The medical research organization of Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan, called the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, just announced something big that may send ripples to the scientific community. About $50 million funds have been earmarked for the continuing quest to uncover cures for diseases.
The timeline set: by the end of the 21st century. On the receiving end of the funding are 47 different people whose research spanning the next five years are deemed vital as they will be concentrating on life science.
Over 700 individuals expressed interest in the funding, which amounts to up to $1.5 million for each scientist. The areas of interest range from imaging cells to the development of biochip technologies, to the transmission of life-threatening blood disease stemming from parasites – such as malaria.
At the helm of the disease investigation initiative, are the Bay area universities — UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and Stanford University. The scientific minds from these institutions will collaborate on cutting-edge, technologically driven biomedical research.
As the Biohub posted on its Facebook page, “Amazing things can happen when great minds come together to advance science and solve problems.”
From Conversations to a Biohub Organization
People may note how Zuckerberg and his wife are not only fascinated with but are avid users of science and technology. The Biohub vision — to develop and apply technologies that will enable scientists/doctors to unlock or develop cure, prevent as well as manage all diseases – emerged from conversations among Joe DeRisi, Ph.D, UCSF’s professor and chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics, scientist Steve Quake, and Geneticist Jennifer Doudna.
During a meeting that DeRisi had with Mark and Priscilla sometime in July 2015, the idea of the three universities working together to leverage their strengths was solidified. From there, an independent entity Chan Zuckerberg Biohub organization came into existence, armed with an audacious goal.
Getting the Core Facilities Up & Running
The research scientists intend to get the core facilities of the Biohub running this year. The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub will be building new capabilities while utilizing existing knowledge such as genome-wide robotic systems for CRISPR-based screening technology, as well as single-cell sequencing technologies, and more.
We are truly living in interesting times. In an age when so many factors contribute to health risks, it is heartening to find the best minds hailing from various disciplines coming together to collaborate to find remedies or solutions. They will be mapping the human body’s trillions of cells. At the Biohub, it is also awesome to find many researchers who are early in their careers getting involved.