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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan pledge $3 billion to cure all diseases

The couple is donating $600 million for a new research facility in San Francisco.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan stand smiling onstage in front of a slide reading “Can we cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime?” Facebook

“Can we cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime?”

The words — a simple question with some unknown, yet inevitably world-changing answer — were displayed on a massive projector screen behind Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Wednesday morning. In his staple gray t-shirt, blue jeans and gray Nike tennis shoes, Zuckerberg described to a room full of Silicon Valley’s elite — including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner — his new goal, which has nothing to do with Facebook.

Zuckerberg wants to cure all disease.

“The biggest breakthroughs take many years,” he told the crowd. “This is about the future we all want for our children. If there’s even a chance that we can help cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime ... then we’re going to do our part.”

Kurt Wagner / Recode

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, spoke one after the other in San Francisco at the UCSF Mission Bay campus to unveil the next phase of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the couple’s new LLC created with the sole purpose of giving away billions and billions of dollars over their lifetimes.

The goal is a lofty one, but Zuckerberg and Chan laid out the general framework for their plan: A commitment to invest $3 billion over the next decade toward disease prevention and research initiatives, starting with a $600 million investment for a new research facility called the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub in San Francisco.

The facility is some kind of joint partnership among three Bay Area universities: UCSF, Stanford and the University of California.

Chan and Zuckerberg said the goal will require three areas of focus:

  • Bringing scientists and engineers together — More collaboration in the field of science.
  • Building tools and technology — More advanced technology.
  • Growing the movement — More funding for other projects.

The Biohub is the first major investment from Zuckerberg and Chan, who announced last December, along with the birth of their daughter, that they would give away 99 percent of their wealth.

Zuckerberg has started slowly selling some of his Facebook stock — a lot of stock to regular people, but not a lot for Zuckerberg — to fund these initiatives. Wednesday was our first glimpse at where the money will ultimately go.

Update: After Zuckerberg, Chan, and a number of other doctors and scientists spoke on Wednesday, Zuckerberg made one final, surprise introduction: Former Microsoft CEO and philanthropist Bill Gates.

“We need more science,” Gates said, sharing a story about shared frustration with Zuckerberg around the lack of vaccines during the Ebola epidemic a few years back in Africa. “I think all of us will be proud to say that we were here on the day that Mark and Priscilla started this journey.”

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