Ambitious Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to combat disease is about to be tested
Monday, February 13, 2017
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious $3bn aim to “cure, prevent and manage” all disease in one generation is about to take shape in a $600m “Biohub” in Silicon Valley.
The project’s conceit, that encouraging audacious science will usher in a “new era of accelerated progress in science and health”, is about to be tested. The first 47 researchers to receive grants, announced Wednesday, have a head-spinning diversity of specialties – from fields as far-flung as big data computer science to the biochemistry and nutrition of wheat.
The Biohub hopes to enable researchers to do “their most bold and innovative and most risky work”, said Joe DeRisi, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-president of the Biohub. “We expect a substantial number to fail – if there’s no failure, there’s no risk.”
The Biohub is an unusual setup for investigators. The University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Berkeley; and Stanford University have all partnered to bring researchers to one laboratory. There, a staff of engineers will be available to work with researchers in one location.
“If they’re doing National Institutes of Health work that might be a very different model of work,” DeRisi said.
- Health Care