UC Berkeley to collaborate with UCSF, Stanford in Chan Zuckerberg Biohub

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Pediatrician Priscilla Chan and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that their initiative will invest $600 million over 10 years in a new research center created in collaboration with UC Berkeley, Stanford and UCSF.

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, based near the UCSF Mission Bay campus, aims to cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century. Beginning in October, the center will allow faculty from any field from any of the three institutions to apply for a five-year investigatorship.

Led by Joe DeRisi of UCSF and Stephen Quake of Stanford, the Biohub will bring scientists and engineers together, develop new tools and technology and fuel a movement to fund science research, Zuckerberg said at the annoucement event.

“If there is even a chance … that our children or even their children can live happier, healthier lives, then we’re going to do our part,” Zuckerberg said at the event. “Together we all have an opportunity to leave our world a much better place than we found it.”

The opportunity will provide faculty with a “huge advantage” in pursuing creative and original research, according to Robert Tjian, a campus professor of molecular and cell biology who is an adviser for both the Biohub and Chan Zuckerberg Science, which is part of the larger Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

“It’s a privilege for any of us to be working with an organization like theirs and people like (Chan and Zuckerberg),” Tjian said.

One of the projects Biohub is set to work on is the Cell Atlas — a comprehensive resource that characterizes the many different cell types of the human body and provides detailed architecture of the molecular interactions within each cell.

Quake emphasized at the event that the Biohub will provide support for faculty from a variety of fields to tackle interdisciplinary problems that cannot be solved in traditional academic environments and do not fit government funding models.

Additionally, the Biohub will initially emphasize supporting junior — untenured or recently tenured — faculty members, Tjian said.

“We hope these scientists early in (their) careers will build a new culture of scientific collaboration,” said Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist who is leading Chan Zuckerberg Science, at the announcement event.

Scientists and clinicians at partner institutions of the project will also have access to Biohub technologies, Quake said at the event, in order to advance scientific and medical research more broadly.

Chan said during the event the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which has already begun a project in education focused on personalized learning, will invest more than $3 billion in the next decade to achieve its mission of “advancing human potential and promoting equality.”

“Most science funding today goes to individuals working separately,” Zuckerberg said at the event. “There’s a big opportunity for us to invest in projects that help to bring people together.”

Contact Ashley Gerrity at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @a_gerrity.