Technology

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg pledge $3 billion to fight diseases

After investing millions of dollars in education and opening their own private K-12 school this year, pediatrician Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, announced Wednesday that they will invest $3 billion over the next decade to fight diseases.

The funds will come from the Chan Zuckerberg Institute, a limited-liability company that the couple established last year after the birth of their daughter, with a goal to “advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research and energy."

Neuroscientist and geneticist Cori Bargmann was named the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s president of science and will be in charge of bringing together scientists and engineers to develop medical breakthroughs. 

Chan also announced that the initiative will spend an additional $600 million to establish a “bio hub” in San Francisco to support researchers from Stanford University, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco as they develop new tools to understand and treat diseases.

“We believe the future we all want for our children is possible,” Chan said Wednesday to an audience of city leaders, health professionals and reporters. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates were also present.

“We set a goal,” Chan said, to “work to cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children’s lifetime. That doesn’t mean no one will ever get sick, but it does mean our children and their children will get sick a lot less."

In December, Chan and Zuckerberg announced plans to donate 99% of their Facebook shares during their lifetimes to advance the mission of the Chan Zuckerberg Institute. Those shares are currently worth more than $45 billion.

The couple detailed their plans in a 2,220-word letter written to their then-newborn daughter, Max, which covered their views on education, healthcare, technology and a host of other issues.  

tracey.lien@latimes.com

Twitter: @traceylien

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