The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub (CZ Biohub) said today it will commit more than $50 million to fund human disease research by its first cohort of 47 investigators from the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
Each investigator will receive a five-year appointment and up to $1.5 million toward life science research in their areas of expertise. CZ Biohub said the investigators were selected from several academic departments at the three universities, including biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics.
An international panel of 60 scientists and engineers evaluated more than 700 applications, the Biohub said.
“CZ Biohub investigators share our vision of a planet without disease. To realize this vision, we are giving some of the world’s most creative and brilliant researchers access to groundbreaking technology and the freedom to pursue high-risk research,” Joseph DeRisi, Ph.D., of UCSF, co-president of the Biohub, said in a statement.
“CZ Biohub investigators will challenge traditional thinking in pursuit of radical discoveries that will make even the most stubborn and deadly diseases treatable,” added Dr. DeRisi, who co-leads the Biohub with Stephen Quake, D.Phil., of Stanford University.
The investigators have agreed to make their draft publications widely available through pre-print servers to ensure the rapid dissemination of research results, the Biohub said.
Open science will also be advanced, the Biohub added, through plans to establish share technology platforms where Bay Area scientists can further their research and advance efforts to fight disease.
In addition to its investigator program, the Biohub is pursuing large-scale collaborative projects that include an Infectious Disease Initiative and the Cell Atlas.
The Biohub says that its scientists and engineers will apply advanced technologies to fight against infectious diseases with research focused on four key areas: new detection technologies, new treatments, new ways to prevent infection, and new approaches to rapid response when new threats emerge.
Through the Cell Atlas project, the Biohub aims to build an international collaboration that will map the cell types of the human body. The map, which will be available to researchers worldwide, is intended to help researchers gain new insights into cell biology related to the causes of human disease, potentially leading to new therapies.
The Biohub was launched when Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, M.D., set aside $600 million over 10 years toward a research center that will foster collaborations by professionals across multiple disciplines, including engineers, computer scientists, biologists, chemists, “and other innovators.”
The Biohub was one of two projects announced in September by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, named for the pediatrician and the Facebook founder, chairman, and CEO. The Initiative also committed $3 billion toward basic research over the next decade, with the audacious goal of curing, preventing, or managing all diseases by the end of the century.