Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, wife plan to donate billions to fight diseases

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, M.D., have taken the next step in their philanthropic endeavors after announcing they will donate billions to help fight diseases.

It is an ambitious vision the power couple shared Thursday, saying they are donating that amount of money over the next decade to jump start research that will cure, prevent or manage all disease by the end of the century."That doesn't mean no one will ever get sick. It does mean our children and their children will get sick a lot less," Chan said.

Zuckerberg says most people die of four types of diseases: Cancer, heart, neurological, or infectious. He believes the answer is to fund research to create new tools and technologies to understand and target the source. "If we can help develop new tools that allow us to see these categories of diseases in new ways, then we can empower scientists all around the world to make faster progress and breakthroughs in these areas," Zuckerberg said.

The first tangible step is a bio hub in Mission Bay where the best and brightest from Stanford, Cal, and UCSF will collaborate."Scientists are very independent and haven't always wanted to work in teams, but I think this is the way forward," UC Berkeley molecular biologist Robert Tjian said.

If you think eradicating or managing disease in the next 80 years is more science fiction than science, supporters say major progress can be made. "It may be a stretch goal to say we'll do it by the end of the century, but its certainly not completely unrealistic," Stanford University president Marc Tessier-Lavigne said.

Microsoft's Bill Gates dropped by to applaud the new effort.

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