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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan pledge $3 billion to end disease

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Dr. Priscilla Chan have announced plans to invest more than $3 billion over the next decade to “cure, prevent or manage” all diseases.

Speaking at the Chan Zuckerberg Sciences project launch in San Francisco streamed live on Facebook, the couple said it hoped to complete the goal before the end of the century.

The investment is part of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative the pair created in December last year, which aims to advance human potential and promote equality.

Dr. Chan said: “We believe that the future we all want for our children is possible. We set a goal: can we cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime?

“That doesn’t mean that no one will ever get sick. But it does mean that our children and their children should get sick a lot less. And that we should be able to detect and treat or at least manage it as an ongoing condition.

“Mark and I believe that this is possible within our children’s lifetime. We are partnering with scientists, doctors, and engineers to help us achieve this goal. We’ll be investing more than $3 billion to achieve our collective vision.”

The strategy includes $600m the pair has committed to investing in a new research centre called the BioHub. The centre  will unite engineers, chemists, biologists and computer sciences to build transformational tools.

BioHub scientists will seek to create a Cell Atlas that maps out the different types of cells in the body. Meanwhile an Infectious Disease Initiative is designed to develop new vaccines and tests.

An emotional Dr. Chan said her experiences as a pediatrician had led her to conclude “we are at the limit of our ability to alleviate suffering.”

She added: “We want to push back that boundary. By investing in science today, we hope to build a future in which all of our children can live long and rewarding lives.”

Zuckerberg said experts from California Universities Berkeley, UCSF and Stanford will unite at the BioHub to “focus on understanding underlying mechanisms of disease and developing new technologies which will lead to actionable diagnostics and effective therapies.”

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, in attendance at the event, said the Zuckerbergs were making an “incredible commitment to research and development.”

What do you make of the first couple of social media’s latest philanthropic initiative? Comment below.

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