Big names in tech pledge support for health research

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to invest $3bn in medical research over the next decade

| 26th Sep 16

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have reiterated their philanthropic aims by announcing a $3bn (£2.3bn) investment in medical research over the next decade.

Speaking at a press conference in San Francisco, the pair said they aimed to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century”.

The funds will be distributed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which was created in December 2015.


Health focus

The news follows a number of other high-profile pledges from the big names in tech. Just a few days earlier Microsoft said it intended to “solve” cancer by using artificial intelligence tools, while Google’s DeepMind unit is working with the NHS to find a way to use computers to more accurately diagnose diseases.

Also this week, IBM and MIT announced a tie-up that will see the development of AI-based systems that could help clinicians improve the care of elderly and disabled patients.


Prevention better than cure 

In the press conference Zuckerberg said that, at present, 50 times more money was spent on treating people who are sick than on curing the diseases that would stop them getting ill in the first place, and added that this needed to change.

He outlined three principles that will guide the couple’s investments:

  • to bring scientists and engineers together
  • to build tools and technology that advance research
  • to grow the movement to fund more science around the world

Chan added that they had already committed $600m to creating a new research centre called the Biohub, which will bring together engineers, computer scientists, biologists, chemists and other innovators.