The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, launched in September 2016 and run by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, set out with the ambitious goal “to cure, prevent or manage all disease during our children’s lifetime.”
As part of the $3 billion initiative, the organisation created an independent nonprofit Biohub, which on Wednesday said it committed $50 million to 47 scientists, technologists, and engineers working at UCSF, Stanford, and UC-Berkeley.
The 47 investigators are working on a wide range of projects, but there was one central thesis the Biohub tried to keep in mind when picking from the 700 applicants.
“I would say the one thing we tried to focus on new technologies and the basic science and mechanisms behind the disease,” Stephen Quake, co-president of the Biohub, told Business Insider.
Pairing that basic science that helps researchers understand what drives a particular condition with new technology could lead to some groundbreaking work in areas such as infectious diseases, genomics, and implantable devices. The hope is also to help these researchers potentially change courses, and look at things that might not necessarily relate to some of the work they have done previously.
“Finding ways to change directions and climb new mountains is really hard to do,” Quake said. “We want to take on things that are too risky,” and might not otherwise be supported by other funding sources.
As part of the CZ Biohub, the investigators will still hold on to their roles at their respective universities. But the hope is that the funding will help the researchers come to some surprising discoveries.
“The standards are incredibly high. These are the best scientists and engineers,” Quake said. “We just wanted to set them loose.”
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