Can We Cure all Diseases in the Next Generation? Maybe!
There is a HUGE scientific project underway called the Human Cell Atlas Project that wants to identify ALL human cells – trillions of ‘em – and put them on a map. The reason? Cells are our fundamental units of life, and by knowing our cells in all organs, we’ll be able to fully understand the many components of diseases that harm and kill human beings. Without maps of different cell types, where they are located in the body, and the genes they express, we cannot describe all cellular activities and understand the biological networks that direct them.
The size and scope of this project is enormous. It also needs funding. Mark Zuckerberg of FaceBook and his wife Priscilla Chan, a Pediatric Physician, are opening their pocket books and good will for our health. Humans are lucky.
The couple announced last September that they plan to invest an estimated $3 billion over the next 10 years to fund innovative solutions that combat numerous diseases, including heart disease, cancer, neurological conditions and infectious pathogens like Ebola and Zika.
It started with the couple founding the non-profit called the Chan Zuckerman BioHub – a $600 million center that will focus on creating a human cell directory. The venture will work with three prominent colleges in the San Francisco area including Stanford, the University of California Berkeley and University of California San Francisco.
Dr. Stephen Quake, Ph.D., the co-president of the biohub and a professor of bioengineering and applied physics said “we signed collaboration agreements with three of the top universities in the Bay Area to help invent the future of biotechnology”. 50 investigators are being hired as part of the funding as part of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.
By mapping the trillions of cells in the human body, experts would be able to develop new drugs and vaccines to combat – and potentially end – disease. That’s an astounding goal all by itself. But the Zuckerberg’s goal is to eradicate all deadly disease in their children’s lifetime! Lucky humans. Thanks to the Zuckerbergs.