Zuckerberg and wife pledge $4b to cure disease

SAN FRANCISCO • Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have pledged US$3 billion (S$4.06 billion) over the next decade to help "cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children's lifetime".

"This is a big goal," Mr Zuckerberg said at a San Francisco event on Wednesday announcing the effort of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative established by the couple. "But we spent the last few years speaking with experts who think it is possible, so we dug in."

Speaking through tears, Ms Chan said she hoped to spare parents the pain she had seen while delivering difficult news as a paediatrician.

"In those moments and in many others we're at the limit of what we understand about the human body and disease, the science behind medicine, the limit of our ability to alleviate suffering. We want to push back that boundary," she said.

The couple had their daughter Max late last year. Posting on Facebook shortly after, they pledged to donate 99 per cent of the company's holdings, some US$45 billion, to "advance human potential and promote equality".

Mr Zuckerberg said their goal is to cure all disease, or at least turn catastrophic illnesses from terminal to manageable or preventable within their daughter's lifetime. Though the funding is for the next decade, the couple hope to achieve this by the end of the century.

The first investment being made as part of what the couple hoped would become a "collective" effort will be US$600 million for the creation of a "Biohub" in San Francisco where researchers, scientists and others will work to build tools to better study and understand diseases.

The event was attended by business and political luminaries including former Microsoft Corp chairman Bill Gates, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2016, with the headline 'Zuckerberg and wife pledge $4b to cure disease'. Print Edition | Subscribe