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Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Donate $3B for Disease Research

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Keeping his words, Facebook Inc. FB chief Mark Zuckerberg along with his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan have pledged $3 billion over next the 10 years toward research to treat/prevent diseases at an event held in San Francisco yesterday.

The initiative will be spearheaded by Dr. Cori Bargmann, a neurobiologist who presently works as Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Rockefeller University.

To begin with, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC will provide $600 million funding to San Francisco based Biohub, a disease research center. Biohub is a collaboration between UC San Francisco, Stanford University and UC Berkeley. Per media reports, Biohub’s current projects are Cell Atlas (mapping and studying cells that control function of the critical organs like brain and heart) and Infectious Disease Initiative (to create drugs/vaccines for diseases like Ebola, HIV and Zika).

In her address, Dr. Chan, a pediatrician, said “We are the limit of what we understand about science and disease. We want to push back that boundary. By investing in science today, we hope to build a future in which all of our children can live long and rewarding lives.” She further added that “We believe we can cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children’s lifetime. It doesn’t mean that no one will get sick, but they should get sick a lot less.”


In an unprecedented development, toward the end of the event, Zuckerberg called on stage Microsoft’s MSFT chairman, Bill Gates. Lauding Chan and Zuckerberg’s philanthropic efforts, Gates was quoted saying “It’s a magical time to bring this group together to tackle these problems, what’s been most fun is meeting people who are optimistic that these problems can be solved. They are inspiring a whole new generation of philanthropists to do great things.”

Gates, through, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for long, has been working toward causes related to healthcare and poverty. Gates has also signed the "Giving Pledge" under which he has committed to donate most of his fortunes toward making the world a “better place”. “Giving Pledge” signatories also include the likes of Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway and Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp.

Last December, on the occasion of the birth of their daughter Max, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan decided to pledge almost all their fortune to charity. In the 2,200 word letter to his newborn daughter, posted on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg said that he and his wife plan to give away 99% of their Facebook shares, over their entire lifetime to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will focus on “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.”

At present, per media reports, Zuckerberg has an estimated fortune of $55.6 billion. However, Zuckerberg does not plan to give away more than $1 billion of stock each year over the next three years in order to maintain his majority voting position.

At present, Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Other stocks worth considering in the tech space are NetEase Inc NTES and NetApp, Inc. NTAP, which also carry a Zacks Rank #1. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here

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