Mark Zuckerberg, wife pledge $3 bn to cure all diseases

San Francisco, Sep 22 (IANS) In a bid to help coming generations live disease-free, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have pledged $3 billion to fund medical research over the next decade.

Zuckerberg and Chan, unveiled the next phase of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – a new project the couple created in December 2015 to give away billions in dollars for humanitarian cause.

At a press conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, the couple said their ultimate goal was to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century”.

“The biggest breakthroughs take many years. 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 are going to do our part,” Zuckerberg told the gathering which included Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner.

According to Re/Code, Zuckerberg and Chan started with a $600 million investment for a new research facility called the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub in San Francisco.

Zuckerberg said 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.

The Biohub will initially work on two projects.

The first is the Cell Atlas, a “map” that describes the different types of cells that control the body’s major organs.

The second is the Infectious Disease Initiative, which will try to develop new tests and vaccines to tackle HIV, Ebola, Zika and other new diseases, BBC reported.

Zuckerberg predicted that by 2100, the average life expectancy would be beyond 100 years.

But he cautioned that it would take years before the couple’s fund led to the creation of new medical treatments and further time before they could be applied to patients.

Earlier this week, Microsoft said it intended to “solve” cancer by using artificial intelligence tools.

Google’s DeepMind unit is working with the National Health Service (NHS) to find a way to use computers to more accurately diagnose diseases.

IBM and MIT have announced a tie-up to develop AI-based systems that could help clinicians improve the care of elderly and disabled patients.

–IANS

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