Non-profit organization The Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub, founded by Silicon Valley billionaire couple Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, announced its intention to distribute a total of $50 million to its first group of researchers working on curing diseases.
Not to be confused with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Biohub brings together the top universities in the Bay Area, including the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University. One of the main pillars of this collaboration is its investigative program, Tech Crunch reports.
Out of 700 applicants, 47 faculty members have been chosen to receive up to $1.5 million each over the span of five years. All of the investigators can study anything from growing organs to studying cells, as long as the goals are in tune with the Biohub’s ultimate thrust to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases.”
The organization’s goal is ambitious. While many institutions focus on just one disease, Biohub takes the opposite approach and opens itself to all possible research types in order to diversify and make more progress.
Joe DeRisi, co-president of the Biohub, says,
If you go back 100 years from right now and look at the rate of change and what has happened and you extrapolate into the future, you cannot predict the kinds of innovation and inventions and quantum leaps in our ability to cure disease or manage or prevent it.
DeRisi adds that the overarching goal is less on achieving individual aims and more on finding new insights. An example he gives is the discovery of CRISPR-Cas9. He says, “No one would have predicted it would be the actual key technology to most of the bold new innovations in healthcare that are coming down the line.”
The Biohub also has other large-scale initiatives such as the Infectious Disease Initiative to find out how to fight dengue fever and Zika, and Cell Atlas, an international project to map all the cells in the human body. The latter is meant to help come up with new therapies for diseases.