Mark Zuckerberg to sell $13B in Facebook stock to help cure major diseases

Mark Zuckerberg is selling $13 billion in Facebook stock to fund a new goal: curing, preventing or managing all diseases "in our children's lifetime," CNBC reports.

Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, MD, run the philanthropic investment group the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Their research center, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, funds ambitious young scientists with big goals, such as Markita Landry, PhD, a chemical engineer who runs a lab at UC Berkeley and seeks to develop technology that could measure the chemistry of the brain.

"As scientists, we tend to think about moving in increments of weeks or months, but Mark prompted me to talk about the potential impact in years or even decades," Dr. Landry explained.

Last year, Mr. Zuckerberg vowed to sell up to 75 million shares of Facebook to fund the initiative. Just this year, he has sold 29 million shares, adding more than $5.3 billion to CZI.

One of CZI's mission statements is to support "scientific research to cure, prevent and manage all diseases in our children's lifetime." In 2016, Mr. Zuckerberg said "we have a real shot at preventing, curing or managing" most diseases in the next 100 years, namely heart disease, cancer, stroke, and neurodegenerative and infectious diseases, CNBC reports.

Although some have been sketpictical about the project's ambitious ideas, CZI employees say the mission statement guides their work. After all, CZI seeks to take "multiple big shots on goal, rather than making a single bet on a person or a disease," said Marc Malandro, PhD, the CZI science team's vice president of operations.

"I agree that it would be a tough sell if we were a research institution thinking that we alone are going to cure, prevent and manage all disease," said Dr. Malandro. "But what we're talking about doing is developing data, enabling scientists, funding scientists and helping drive culture change around open science."

Dr. Chan understands CZI's goals may seem far-fetched, but said the initiative aims to "focus on empowering scientists with tools to unlock their work and the field — that goal could be within our reach."

"We believe that greater collaboration across science and technology is key to giving more people an equal shot at living healthy and prosperous lives," Dr. Chan told CNBC. "We're proud to play a role in making that happen."

More articles on population health:

New York adds 3rd gender option to birth certificates
Gates Foundation gifts Johns Hopkins $20.5M to study reproductive health
NIH awards NYU $65M to research how environment affects children's health

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