(Bloomberg) — Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are pledging to spend more than $3 billion over the next decade to work on curing diseases.
“Can we work together to cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children’s lifetime?” Chan said Wednesday onstage at an event in San Francisco for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “Mark and I believe that this is possible.”
Chan, a pediatrician, spoke through tears about how she’s had to tell parents their child couldn’t be resuscitated, or give a diagnosis of leukemia. The couple plans to work with scientists, doctors, engineers and universities to achieve their goal, in part by building tools and technology. The program will be overseen by Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University in New York.
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“This is a big goal and we thought this was really aggressive when we got started,” Facebook co-founder Zuckerberg said. “But when you get into it, one of the first things that strikes you is medicine has only been a modern science for about a century.” After speaking with experts, the couple believes it’s possible, he said.
The first investment in science will be $600 million over 10 years to fund a research center, called the Biohub, where experts from different fields can collaborate on scientific questions. The center is being created as a partnership with Stanford University, University of California at San Francisco and UC Berkeley, the initiative said in a statement.
After the birth of their daughter, Zuckerberg and Chan pledged to allocate 99 percent of their wealth to philanthropic causes during their lifetimes, such as promoting equality and curing diseases. When the pledge was announced in December, it was valued at $45 billion. Facebook’s stock has appreciated more than 20 percent since then.
Zuckerberg earlier this year asked Facebook shareholders to approve a new voting structure for its stock, so he could sell and give away shares without losing his majority control of Facebook.The couple has already started their initiative in education, hiring Jim Shelton, the former deputy secretary of education in the United States, to oversee their efforts.