Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his spouse, Dr. Priscilla Chan, last year said they would offer 99 % of their Facebook shares to charitable causes. Currently they are putting a large chunk of that cash to work.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the limited liability company into that Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan put their Facebook shares, on Wednesday said it would invest a minimum of $3 billion over subsequent decade toward preventing, curing or managing all diseases by the end of the century.
While the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has already made investments incharter schools and education start-ups, the money toward curing diseases represents the group’s 1st major initiative in science. The announcement was also a beginning of sorts for Dr. Chan, who has a huge interest in health and was trained in pediatrics.
In a speech to introduce the health initiative at an occasion in San Francisco on Wednesday, Dr. Chan said the work to cure disease was to keep with her organization’s mission to advance human potential and promote equality. She gave an emotional introduction, describing how a high-quality education helped her succeed as the daughter of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants.
Dr. Chan said, while referring to her and Mr. Zuckerberg’s baby daughter, Maxima, “We want to dramatically improve each life in Max’s generation and ensure we don’t miss one soul,”
“We’ll be investment in basic science research with the aim of curing disease.”
The event was attended by Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California and former secretary of homeland security; Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco; and investors together with Yuri Milner, who supported Facebook before it went public. About 63,000 people watched the event on Facebook Live and there were approximately 450 attending.
A few of Mr. Zuckerberg’s Facebook co-founders or early executives have also pledged funds to charity or specifically toward health initiatives. Dustin Moskovitz, a Facebook co-founder, is part of the Giving Pledge, through which the world’s wealthiest people and families have dedicated a majority of their wealth to financial aid. Sean Parker, who was president of Facebook when the company was still a start-up, earlier this year said he would provide $250 million to 6 cancer centers nationwide.
Other technology billionaires have also given to public health, together with Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder. His Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $10.2 billion through 2014 to world health initiatives like fighting AIDS, T.B. and malaria.
Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan, who are also part of the Giving Pledge and have looked up to Mr. Gates, announced the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative at the end of last year. At the time, their Facebook holdings were worth around $45 billion.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s structure as a limited liability company provides it freedom to also spend on for-profit companies and political donations. Some traditional philanthropies, which have disbursement restrictions and targets they need to meet, disapprove of the L.L.C. structure.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s science work will be led by Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University in New York. The primary project will be the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, an independent research center in San Francisco which will bring together engineers, computer scientists, biologists, chemists and others. Formed in partnership with Stanford, the University of California, and also the University of California, San Francisco, it will receive initial funding of $600 million over a decade.
At the event Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg said that if his organizations decide to cure or manage all disease worked, it should increase human life expectancy to 100 years.
“That doesn’t mean no one will ever get sick,” he said. “But they ought to be able to treat it and manage it.”