Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have pledged $3 billion to fund medical research over the next decade.
At a press conference in San Francisco, the Facebook founder and his wife said their ultimate goal was to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century”.
The funds will be distributed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which they created in December 2015.
Tech leaders are increasingly turning their attention to health.
Earlier in the week, Microsoft said it intended to “solve” cancer by using artificial intelligence (AI) tools.
Google’s DeepMind unit is working with UK’s NHS (National Health Service) to find a way to use computers to more accurately diagnose diseases.
IBM and MIT announced a tie-up earlier this week to develop AI-based systems that could help clinicians improve the care of elderly and disabled patients.
Even so, the Chan Zuckerberg plan is marked by its ambition.
Mark 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.
The Facebook founder 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
Priscilla Chan added that they had already committed $600 million to creating a new research centre called the Biohub, which will bring together engineers, computer scientists, biologists, chemists and other innovators.
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.
Mark Zuckerberg predicted that by 2100 the average life expectancy would be beyond 100 years.
However, 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.
Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates – who has funded his own health research via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – appeared at the event to praise the announcement.
He described it as “very bold and ambitious” but added that “we desperately need this science”.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan announced in December 2015 that they planned to give away 99% of their shares in Facebook to fund good causes following the birth of their daughter.
The organization’s stated mission is to make long-term investments in work that advances human potential and promotes equality.
They had previously announced investments in education-related start-ups.
One expert said that dealing with all disease was “clearly ambitious” but added that deep-pocketed philanthropists were defined by the fact they could take such risks.
Mark Zuckerberg has defended the unusual company structure chosen for the eye-catching philanthropic venture launched to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Max.
He will give away 99% of his stake in Facebook, worth $45 billion, to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Rather than set up a simple charity, the Facebook founder formed a limited liability company (LLC) to administer the money.
An LLC brings certain tax exemptions but also allows investment for profit.
Critics have said the structure of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative could provide a way for Mark Zuckerberg to avoid paying tax on the sale of his shares. They have also questioned why he did not set up a not-for-profit charity instead.
An LLC allows Mark Zuckerberg to keep hold of the voting and allocation of the shares he puts into it.
In a Facebook post on December 3, Mark Zuckerberg explained his reasons for creating an LLC instead of a not-for-profit organization and said he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, will pay capital gains taxes when their shares are sold by the company.
“By using an LLC instead of a traditional foundation, we receive no tax benefit from transferring our shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, but we gain flexibility to execute our mission more effectively,” he said.
“In fact, if we transferred our shares to a traditional foundation, then we would have received an immediate tax benefit, but by using an LLC we do not.
“And just like everyone else, we will pay capital gains taxes when our shares are sold by the LLC,” Mark Zuckerberg added.
The new charitable organization is aimed at “advancing human potential and promoting equality for all children in the next generation”.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s shares will be donated over the course of their lives. They have already committed $1.6 billion to philanthropic causes according to a Facebook statement.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have announced they will give away 99% of their Facebook shares to good causes as they welcomed the birth of their daughter Max.
The new father made the announcement in a letter to daughter Max on his Facebook page.
Mark Zuckerberg said they are donating their fortune to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative because they want to make the world a better place for Max to grow up in.
The donation amounts to $45 billion at Facebook’s current value.
However, the shares will not be donated to charity immediately, but over the course of the couple’s lives.
Max Zuckerberg was born last week, although her birth was only made public on December 1.
In his letter, the Facebook founder said the aim of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is “to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation”.
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.
“Your mother and I don’t yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future,” Mark Zuckerberg said at the start of his letter to Max.
“You’ve already given us a reason to reflect on the world we hope you live in,” it added.
The letter highlighted the important role of technology in achieving the couple’s goals of advancing human potential and equality.
“Many of the greatest opportunities for your generation will come from giving everyone access to the internet,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote to his daughter.
The Facebook CEO said more details about the donation will be released once he and Priscilla Chan return from paternity and maternity leave.
Mark Zuckerberg, who Forbes estimate is worth some $46.8 billion, said he will remain chief executive of Facebook for “many, many years to come”.
In a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook said that Mark Zuckerberg “plans to sell or gift no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years and that he intends to retain his majority voting position…for the foreseeable future”.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have welcomed baby girl Max.
Max Zuckerberg was born last week, although her birth was only made public on December 1.
Mark Zuckerberg has made the announcement in a Facebook post, accompanied by a Facebook Notes letter to the new little lady in his life.
In the letter, Mark Zuckerberg writes that he and Priscilla Chan will donate 99% of their Facebook shares – currently about $45 billion – over the course of their lives “to join many others in improving this world for the next generation”.
The new parents have also launched the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which has the broad mission of “advancing human potential” but will focus specifically on personalizing learning, curing disease, connecting people, and building strong communities.
In the letter, Mark Zuckerberg also laid out his vision for the world he hopes Max will inherit, a world in which Facebook plays an increasingly central role.
The letter covers Mark Zuckerberg’s passion for giving the world access to the Internet and the investments he and Priscilla Chan have made in education, and it paints a rosy view of a world that has felt utterly grim:
“While headlines often focus on what’s wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking. Knowledge is growing. People are connecting. Technological progress in every field means your life should be dramatically better than ours today. We will do our part to make this happen, not only because we love you, but also because we have a moral responsibility to all children in the next generation.”
Social network founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is celebrating his first Christmas with wife Priscilla Chan after the couple tied the knot on May 19, laughed and joked during private surfing lessons on the island of Maui.
Priscilla Chan looked relaxed in a sporty, red one-piece while her billionaire husband lugged his own surfboard and worked on his tan in a pair of board shorts.
Mark Zuckerberg, 28, took time out from his role as chairman and CEO of Facebook to relax with his 27-year-old wife on the Hawaiian island, a popular tourist spot for surfing and windsurfing.
The couple chatted easily with other beach-goers before taking to the waves, where Priscilla proved herself to be an accomplished surfer.
The Zuckerbergs married in May with a ceremony in the billionaire’s backyard in Palo Alto, California. It was a joint celebration to mark Priscilla Chan’s graduation from medical school.
They honeymooned in Italy where they were pictured taking in the beauty of Rome’s Sistine Chapel and tucking into pasta in low-key restaurants.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan celebrate their first Christmas as married couple in Hawaii
The couple have been dating since 2003 after meeting in line for the bathroom at a frat party at Harvard University.
The beach snaps are a rare glimpse of a notoriously private couple – a luxury which was also accidentally breached by a member of Mark Zuckerberg’s own family last week.
His sister Randi posted a picture of her family jokingly reacting to Facebook’s new Poke application, and someone tweeted the picture out to the public.
She later complained that her privacy was breached on Twitter. The incident comes as Facebook has long been accused of taking advantage of users’ privacy concerns.
In the photo, Randi’s younger siblings and parents are seen in what appears to be their family home in Dobbs Ferry, New York.