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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Announce $3 Billion Initiative To 'Cure All Diseases' (venturebeat.com) 161

Yesterday, researchers on behalf of Microsoft said they will "solve" cancer within the next 10 years by treating it like a computer virus that invades and corrupts the body's cells. Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced a $3 billion initiative to "cure all diseases." VentureBeat reports: The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a company created by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to "unlock human potential and promote equality," today announced "Chan Zuckerberg Science," a $3 billion project that aims to cure, prevent, or manage "all diseases in our children's lifetime." "That doesn't mean that no one will ever get sick," Mark Zuckerberg later said. But the program hopes to eventually make all diseases treatable -- or at least easily manageable -- by the end of the 21st century. "Our society spends 50x more treating people who are sick than on finding cures. We can do better than that," said Zuckerberg. A press release from the Initiative says Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan will provide "at least $3 billion over the next decade to help jumpstart this work." "The plan," as Zuckerberg called it, is to "bring scientists and engineers together, build tools and technology, [and] grow the movement to fund science." That plan includes a program called Biohub, a partnership between Stanford University, Berkeley, and UCSF that "will focus on understanding underlying mechanisms of disease and developing new technologies which will lead to actionable diagnostics and effective therapies." You can watch the full Chan Zuckerberg Science presentation here.
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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Announce $3 Billion Initiative To 'Cure All Diseases'

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  • Since that's a disease at the heart of the body politic. No, he didn't say he would do this, but if he were serious, he would.

  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @03:29PM (#52933819)

    Yesterday, researchers on behalf of Microsoft said they will "solve" cancer within the next 10 years by treating it like a computer virus that invades and corrupts the body's cells. Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced a $3 billion initiative to "cure all diseases."

    "I see how it is. Fine. I, Jeff Bezos, pledge an end to all human suffering by sometime in the next six months."

    • by MancunianMaskMan ( 701642 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @03:42PM (#52933915)

      Yesterday, researchers on behalf of Microsoft said they will "solve" cancer within the next 10 years by treating it like a computer virus that invades and corrupts the body's cells. Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced a $3 billion initiative to "cure all diseases."

      "I see how it is. Fine. I, Jeff Bezos, pledge an end to all human suffering by sometime in the next six months."

      I, Larry Ellison, will eliminate all humans in a week!

    • Yesterday, researchers on behalf of Microsoft said they will "solve" cancer within the next 10 years by treating it like a computer virus that invades and corrupts the body's cells. Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced a $3 billion initiative to "cure all diseases."

      "I see how it is. Fine. I, Jeff Bezos, pledge an end to all human suffering by sometime in the next six months."

      [fineprint]Only for Prime Members[/fineprint]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Throw money at it. That'll fix it!

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @03:30PM (#52933835) Journal
    Wow, spend 3 billion dollars? If only someone had thought of that solution sooner!

    He's like a part-time stock trader who just realized how much money you can make with options.
    • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @03:37PM (#52933883) Homepage

      Dear Mister Zuckerberg,

      We think that you're grossly underestimating the size of the effort.
      But thank you for diverting a bit of your fortune to our cause.
      It's a refreshing change from counting on big pharma corporations to divert a bit from their marketing budget....

      - The scientists in the life-science field

      • Dear Mister Zuckerberg,

        We think that you're grossly underestimating the size of the effort.
        But thank you for diverting a bit of your fortune to our cause.
        It's a refreshing change from counting on big pharma corporations to divert a bit from their marketing budget....

        - The scientists in the life-science field

        The one advantage that a not for profit has is that they can look for cures that might not be profitable. It's more profitable to treat a chronic illness than to cure it.
        A not for profit also has an advantage over a government entity in that it can look for cures instead of spending its money on treating the existing ill.
        Most of the money currently spent on medicine is either looking for a profit or taking care of already sick people so it's not necessarily a bad thing for some money to be spent on pie in

        • by starless ( 60879 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @04:34PM (#52934283)

          The one advantage that a not for profit has is that they can look for cures that might not be profitable.

          You mean like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute with an endowment of $18 billion and spending of $800 million per year?
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          Or the Wellcome Trust with an endowment of 18 billion pounds (~ $23 billion)
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          Or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with $44 billion
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          And of course there is the research supported by the NIH (that spends $26 billion annually) , NHS etc.
          Somehow it seems $3 billion is a rather modest (if welcome) addition to the overall scope of non-profit medical
          research...

          • Or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with $44 billion
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

            The Gates Foundation as well as several of the other ones you listed tend to mostly focus on distributing existing cures rather than trying to find new cures. I agree that it's pie in the sky idealism but $3 billion is still a considerable amount of money that could go a long way if focused in particular areas. I'm also not saying that the Gates Foundation is not doing a very good thing but discovering new cures is not really a huge focus of theirs because there are plenty of people already dying from kno

            • Actually, it's not likely to go very much of anywhere because on some disease we either have very little clue right now where those 'particular areas' are, and a decade is the minimal time needed to get a drug developed and to market...using very optimistic numbers.

              It doesn't exactly help that sometimes what we may have been framing as a disease is, in point of fact, within the normal healthy range of human variation--we just don't necessarily want to admit it.

              ...If I thought Zuckerberg would do anything mo

    • So, in 2014, we spent:
      3,400,000,000,000... in 12 months

      Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook) claims that he will eliminate ALL diseases. Price tag?
      3,000,000,000... in 120 months

      So, just to be clear, Mr. Zuckerberg will cure _all_ the diseases on a budget of 1% of one years' expenditures, over 10 years? Quite frankly, it does seem like we already tried the "throw money at it" solution.

      • You're quoting just US figures. Now ponder how much money is dedicated to medical research throughout the industrialized world; in places like Britain, Europe, Asia and even in places like South Africa. I suspect Zuckerburg's $3 billion might pay for a week or two's work in the global medical research community. Not that such money would be unwelcome, but it is a drop in the bucket.

    • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @04:01PM (#52934051) Homepage Journal

      Like his previous do-gooder effort by throwing money at a problem. Zuck gave New Jersey's failing school system $100 million, and other matching contributions added up the total to almost $200 million. All that money was pissed away on various things and today the New Jersey school system is still failing.

      Zuck seems to think that just because he's brilliant with computers (and making money with computers), he's brilliant at other things.

      • Like his previous do-gooder effort by throwing money at a problem. Zuck gave New Jersey's failing school system $100 million, and other matching contributions added up the total to almost $200 million. All that money was pissed away on various things and today the New Jersey school system is still failing.

        Wow, what did they spend the money on?

        Zuck seems to think that just because he's brilliant with computers

        He's not.

      • money wont fix stupid, zuckerberg is proof of that, look how rich he is and he is still coming up with stupid ideas
      • Zuck seems to think that just because he's brilliant with computers

        Is he? I only know him for one thing, and that is shit. Sure it's making tonnes of cash, but so is Bieber or the Kardashians, and they have no talent at anything (apart from maybe making money)

      • by Tom ( 822 )

        Zuck seems to think that just because he's brilliant with computers (and making money with computers), he's brilliant at other things.

        That's not his fault, it's an american culture deficit. In the USA, success equals smart equals good. People read all these "do these 10 things successful people do" without stopping one second to think that there's zero evidence for a causal relation. Or in simpler terms: Yes, maybe twenty successful people do X, but so do thousands or millions of unsuccessful people.

        But yes, throwing money at a problem seems to be a typical response these days. Don't even look at what the problem actually is, just throw m

      • Zuck seems to think that just because he's brilliant with computers (and making money with computers), he's brilliant at other things.

        It takes some finesse he doesn't have.

        There's two real requirements to fixing arbitrary massive problems in the world: be a polymath, and understand where and how to leverage effort. Being a polymath means you actually have to approach new and interesting problems by learning about them; and that learning will always be incomplete, so you have to take what you know and lean it against people who can pick it apart.

        Zuckerberg wants to solve disease. I want to solve a great many of the United States's e

    • My initial reaction to this and the MS announcement was to look at the calendar, and make sure it isn't April first, since /. gets particularly silly around that time of year.

      My second reaction was to not really care. I hear a lot about fancy pants billionaires buying and selling companies, and promoting crazy ideas, but rarely do they seem to have much of an impact on society.

      I settled on: It is a good thing if the latest billionaire dick measuring competition is to see who can cure the most diseases
    • Yeah I don't think 10 years is long enough for him to figure out how to make dopamine great again.

      I might be a little cynical, though. I got Modafinil for ADD because I had major trouble focusing, and because I had an ADHD diagnosis (and shitloads of drugs) all through school since I was 8. Can't focus? Keep starting things, but not finishing? 5 years of piles of shit I have never attended to? Must be ADD. Seems legit.

      Seemed legit until the ADD went away.

      I crashed hard after 2 weeks of Modafinil.

      • by clovis ( 4684 )

        Totally agree. Mental health is our number one problem. These other diseases suck, sure, but the difference is that a person with cancer, HIV, or diabetes doesn't affect me in any significant way, but people with mental health problems can be a big problem for everyone they cross paths with and society as a whole.

        Zuckerberg is lying anyway. He hopes by putting up the 3 billion, the rest of us will chip in a few trillion to find a way for him to live forever.

        • It's not just that; mental health is one of the most complex problems available, and it's a big part of disease.

          Cancer is hard to fix. HIV is hard to fix. Congenital defects (genetic diseases) are hard to fix. They're easy to identify, easy to understand, and easy to describe; and even knowing everything about them, it's hard to find a way to fix them. When we do, the fix is difficult, complex, error-prone, and severely harmful to the patient. Most diseases are handled by vaccination or by ignoring t

          • A good, hard example is autism......it is clearly a problem with the brain, we can diagnose it, and we have some hypotheses on what kind of brain malfunction causes it.......but we're not anywhere close to knowing how to fix it.
  • by gweilo8888 ( 921799 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @03:35PM (#52933871)
    ...Zuck means "patent all the medications, so I can get fat off the overinflated profits".

    If he wanted to make a meaningful difference in the world, he'd work to make existing medical care affordable, not piss away money on pie-in-the-sky initiatives to "cure all diseases".
    • he'd work to make existing medical care affordable

      You're proposing corporate thinking for fixing an American problem caused by corporations. Key point there is "American problem". Much of the world has very affordable healthcare that is far better than what you get in the USA and it hasn't taken a kind donation by a billionaire to achieve.

      My last broken arm $0
      My last doctor visit $0
      My last hernia operation $20 (I asked someone to get me some real food post op)
      Mylan EpiPens cost $75USD for foreigners visiting, and $28USD for residents.

      You guys can fix your

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They will be stunned when they try to find out how just a single cell organism works. Software, even the large kind of wankery like Facebook, while large, is a piss in the ocean compared to the complexity of biology.

    Richard M Nixon, remember him, declared a war on cancer 50 years ago...

  • http://www.usnews.com/news/art... [usnews.com]

    U.S. Spending on medical research 131 billion there. Hey he is just that good.

  • virii (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @03:44PM (#52933927)
    Shouldn't Microsoft actually cure computer viruses before they go on to use the same method for cancer? Just sayin..
    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      umm they created win10, once the cancer is the body ... you have eradicated the disease (healthy cells) by inverse

    • If they're going to start somewhere, they should probably start with curing all the bugs and exploits in their bug-and-exploit-ridden adware, Windows 10.
  • If such an invention, whatever it will be, that really cures all (or even merely most) illnesses, ever comes to fruition, why should it not be treated as Uber et al are treated today?

    That is, why wouldn't Mark and Priscilla be asked pointed questions about doctors and nurses who — despite spending years and thousands of dollars on education and certification — will become obsolete? What of the hospitals and other health-care infrastructure, that is no longer necessary?

    Will we be expected to sy

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @03:45PM (#52933943)

    I'm not gay, but I did see the first few minutes of the Scream Queens season 2 premier yesterday.

    The rich dean bitch character had a thing going about how she wants to CURE diseases instead of profiting off of endlessly (and unsuccessfully) treating patients and their symptoms. She was starting a new institute with her own money to find cures for everything. Obviously, it was some sort of evil plot.

    That said, this leads me to conclude:
      - Zuckerberg watches Scream Queens (and you know what that means)
      - This new plot Zuckerberg is evil, like all his other plots
      - This new plot will fail spectacularly

  • Deciding to spend money on research is good and all but not completely realistic.

    Throwing money at a problem doesn't a guarantee that a solution will be found.
    i.e.
    There will always be the homeless and the poor. Money isn't going to change that.

    Making grandiose, over the top statements, is laughable at best. Especially when they fail, and fail they will. Hard. Being more discreet would be more prudent in the long run.

    • We can "cure" all diseases just as easily as "ending" all "homelessness", "hunger" and "Facebook".

      cure=treat
      ending=hiding
      homeless=long term pedestrian
      hunger=foodeater
      people=distractees
      facebook=distractors

      Problems solved. Now wheres my cut of the money ol' Zuky?

    • There will always be the homeless

      Why would you believe that? Houses aren't even all that expensive.

  • Well, the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon earned about $2.4 billion from 1966 to 2009 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jerry_Lewis_MDA_Labor_Day_Telethon) to look for a cure to muscular dystrophy.
    So good luck to this attempt with $3 billion instead.

  • Will Facebook be on the list? He did say all diseases.....

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @03:56PM (#52934017) Journal

    It's like they are trying to one-up each other:

    Microsoft: "We'll cure cancer."

    Zuck&Chan: "Oh yah? We'll cure everything!"

    Trump: "I'll cure everything twice as fast and make the germs pay for it!"

    Hillary: "I already did all those, but unfortunately misplaced the emails with the formulas."

  • I guess the megalomaniacs at Microsoft and Facebook should be given some credit. Unlike megalomaniacs of the past, like Hitler or Stalin, they're not interested in curing the world of all the Jews or Capitalists, but target diseases instead. Still, there's something both amusing and tremendously idiotic about grand narcissistic declarations like "We're going to fix CANCER" or "We're going to cure all the diseases!"

  • I hate to sound cynical, but this really does sound like just one of those 'feel good' ideas that come up over a few drinks, that totally ignores your lack of knowledge on the subject, or anything else related to reality. We, as a species, have been trying to 'cure all disease' for thousands of years, and while we've come a long way in that time, we've only scratched the surface -- and along the way we've created more problems. We're starting to run out of antibiotics that actually work. Our own technology
  • that their wealth has warped their minds, being rich does not always mean they are wise, a fool and his money, if i was rich i would do some philanthropy too but i would not come up with such pie in the sky crazy ideas, i would work with real world problems with real world solutions, maybe donate a few billion to provide medical treatment to poor children that could otherwise not afford it, have some cargo planes airdrop food in emergency situations where people are starving, thats that actually benefit rea
  • Affordability (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @04:43PM (#52934345)

    Totally tone deaf given that many treatable and manageable diseases today go untreated thanks to strong profit motives and broken healthcare systems. It is more profitable to squeeze every penny out of the richest half of the desperate and sick people than to set a price that provides modest profit and widespread availability for virtually everyone with the need.

    Today there would be a lot more bang for your buck spending the $3B to fight shady patents in medicine, and to bribe politicians into doing the right by the population than finding more treatments that will get sucked into the Wall Street and DC maelstroms of greed and corruption. Until medicine is working primarily for the patient's good with profit secondary (not zero) I don't see our current frigged up mess getting better no matter how many cures we have.

  • Hopefully Elon Musk is pretty close with that giant spaceship, we might need some extra room.
  • The average cost to develop a new drug, advance it through all clinical trials and bring it to market in the US, Europe and Japan is currently about 2 billion USD. 3 billion of donated funds are *nowhere* near the investment needed to make a sizable impression on the pharma landscape.

  • Texas Did It First! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rockmuelle ( 575982 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @06:02PM (#52934805)

    I know that's an odd subject for this thread, but Texas beat them to this by almost 10 years.

    CPRIT (Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas) was founded in 2007 and chartered with spending $3B over 10 years to develop new approaches to cancer prevention and treatment. If you're in the cancer research space, you know about CPRIT. It's the single largest research fund for cancer outside the NIH.

    To get an idea of what $3B can do, check out the CPRIT site http://www.cprit.state.tx.us/a... [state.tx.us].

    If you don't want to do that, basically you can fund a few companies and a number of research projects, but it's nowhere near enough to make a dent in the problem.

    There's also the problem of fairly allocating the funds. CPRIT ran into this problem early on when it was found that many of the early, large grants were awarded without proper review to friends of the board. This prompted the entire scientific board to resign and CPRIT to essentially reset. It's moving along OK now, but it's still an open question as to how many of the investments will yield actionable results.

    Given Facebook's proclivity to reward friends with purchases at outrageous valuations, I won't be surprised if this fund runs into the same nepotism issues CPRIT did.

    There are many other lessons that they can learn from CPRIT, but the most important probably is that $3T is probably a more realistic number.( See also all the comments about the tech industry's hubris when it comes to these types problems - curing cancer/disease is not the same as slapping together some APIs to create a "world changing" app. )

    -Chris

  • A lot of diseases happen more frequently as we age. If we could affect the aging process, many of those diseases would go away.

  • Ok, a $300M annual charity gift is a big deal, and that's great. But this is not going to drastically change things. Nationwide, the NIH annual R&D budget is about $30B. The USA as a whole has spent over $100B annually on medical research for several years now. This is ~60% more than the total VC investment across all fields in the USA last year.

  • So - seems that biologists are hot and heavy on this thing called Evolution. Zuck must be low on Science creds - seems to me that attempts to "kill" disease would cause them to mutate and get around whatever road block is in the way.

    $3 billion fighting evolution? Who will win? Place your bets!

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