Curing all disease is goal of Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan’s initiative

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan have a humble goal for The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: Cure all diseases by the end of the century.

The philanthropy, started four years ago after the birth of their first daughter, has three directives: eliminating all disease, transforming criminal justice and improving education equity.

“We are not going to do that ourselves. but we do think it will be possible to cure, prevent or be able to manage all diseases by the end of this century,” Zuckerberg told CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King in an interview broadcast Tuesday.

“Setting audacious goals is important,” said Chan, a pediatrician and teacher and co-founder and co-CEO of the initiative. “We need to think about beyond what’s possible.”

Toward that end, the initiative aims to map every single cell in the human body. “You would think we already know all the cells and what they do,” Chan said. “The thing is we don’t and we need a reference.”

That research is “a very basic building block for a lot of biological research to happen on top of that,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg and Chan established the Initiative, a limited liability corporation, to give away 99% of their Facebook shares over the couple’s lifetime, with a goal of solving some of the world’s most complex problems.

In addition to discussing the Initiative, Zuckerberg also fielded questions about the calls for regulation of social media giants such as Facebook.

“What I believe is that in a democracy it’s really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so they can make their open judgments,” he said. “I don’t think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news.”

Would he welcome regulation? “Absolutely,” Zuckerberg told King. “Private companies should not be in the position of making so many important decisions, balancing different social values that we all care about,” he said. “I think the real answer is for there to be regulation.”

In the first part of the interview, which CBS This Morning broadcast Monday, Zuckerberg addressed Facebook’s decision to not join Twitter in banning political ads. “I don’t think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news,” he said. Facebook has said it is looking at ways to “refine” its approach to political ads.

As for calls to break up Facebook, Zuckerberg pushed back. “I think there are real issues. I think a lot of people are upset. A lot of people are talking about measures like breaking up the company that aren’t going to fix these issues,” he said. “Breaking up Facebook isn’t going to address the question of political discourse.”

In interviews at their home, Chan and Zuckerberg discussed their first date, which almost didn’t lead to a second one because Zuckerberg gave off “a major red flag,” Chan said.

“I am like a type A student (and) at the end of the date he said, “I have a take-home midterm I need to do. But I’d rather hang out with you’.”

“Which I thought would be like a complement,” Zuckerberg said.

But Chan saw it differently. “I was like, this guy is going nowhere,” she said. “He’s blowing off his homework.”

The couple on Tuesday posted their annual letter on the Initiative website and in the note say: “Our hope is that we can fill a niche for our partners — people who otherwise might not have engineering or funding or advocacy expertise at their fingertips. By accelerating their progress, we can help build a better future for everyone.



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