Zuckerberg funds: Collaboration + Technology + Open Science

Original author: Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative
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Our approach to accelerating the development of science and treatment of diseases.


We believe that cooperation, making risky decisions and keeping in touch with the scientific community are our best opportunities to accelerate progress in science.

The work of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in science was based on a big idea.

- to
support science and technology that will allow all diseases to cure, prevent or inhibit their development by the end of this century. This is a loud statement - but it is based on the history of biology and medicine. To establish our aspirations as to how far we can go during the rest of the century, let us go back to how far we have come in the last century.

In 1930, three of the ten leading causes of death were infectious diseases : pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis and gastrointestinal infections. All are now treatable or prevented with the advent of antibiotics and vaccines. In the 1960s, the Framingham studyestablished a clear link between high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. As a result of this multidisciplinary science, we have new drugs for treating blood pressure and statins, which have increased the lives of patients with heart diseases by more than 20 years. In recent years, AIDS has become a treatable chronic disease with antiviral therapy, and progress in our understanding of the underlying cellular mechanisms of cancer has led to a steady 1-2% decrease in cancer mortality per year over the past 25 years. There are many other examples - we have a lot of achievements worth celebrating.

In each of these cases, advances in basic sciences have led to scientific, practical and clinical research and, ultimately, to changes in medical practice. We think that in the coming years it will be possible to achieve a lot. That is why we are focusing on investing in a multidisciplinary approach to basic science, taking into account what can be achieved in the next 25, 50 and 80 years. We know that a lot can be done, but at the same time we know that we are new players in a well-defined existing biomedical enterprise. In order to realize a differential impact, we must focus our efforts on areas in which we can bring unique value and new ideas for science.

We need to find out what our capabilities are. To this end, we are seriously passionate about the scientific and medical communities, and we often hold seminars and meetings with leaders from academic institutions, scientific societies, disease control funds, government agencies, the biotechnology industry, and other charitable foundations. Their leadership, as well as the guidance of our Scientific Advisory Board, help us direct our efforts to have the greatest impact on biomedical research.


What slows down science? Ask the scientists! In order to develop our ideas, we often hold seminars with supervisors in various fields to learn about the needs and opportunities of these areas.

Hybrid model

When we look at various charities and foundations, we see two big models that advance different areas. One approach is to create a grant fund. An example of such a foundation is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation , which supports global health research worldwide. Another type of charity is building its own research institutes, such as the Institute. Paul Allen is a dedicated cognitive psychology and research center in Seattle that studies the brain.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiativewe want to finance great research scientists who share our goals and values. At the same time, our position in Silicon Valley gives us special access to the latest technologies, in particular to computational biology and software development. We found that by working side by side with the scientists we finance, we can create new tools and develop open source software that can be a tool for scientists to better collaborate and ultimately reach their breakthroughs. We finance and create .

Next, I want to highlight a few key aspects of our approach, based on my experience as a scientist and as a person currently managing an organization that is trying to support science and accelerate its development.

Collaboration is key

At the beginning of my career, I worked on the NEU / HER2 genewhich caused brain cancer in rats. Subsequently, other researchers have found that the same gene is a malignant subject in human breast cancer cells, where the abnormally high level of HER2 in cancer diseases makes them more aggressive. For years, scientists all over the world have studied HER2, first in animals and then in humans. This work progressed to the creation of an anti-HER2 antibody and then to clinical trials, where doctors worked using biotechnology to test this drug on patients. In the end, their hard work led to Herceptin, a drug against HER2, which caused breast cancer cells to grow and turned one of the most deadly cancers in the world into one of the most treatable cancers. As a scientist who helped identify HER2, I was just one link in the mass chain of people who worked together on this innovative project, bringing the results of the research to use in treatment. We succeeded because we were ready for new ideas and listened to new theories - in this area and beyond.

Similar experiments help shape our approach to treating a disease in CZI. Progress is accelerated when a group of specialists of a different profile works together - this is why we support open, collaborative and network research models. The teams include natural scientists, specialists in the theory of computing, doctors and software developers. A special feature is the ongoing collaboration between scientists in the research community and our teams responsible for computational biology and software here at CZI, which allows us to get closer to the problems we help solve.

One example of our approach to collaboration is Biohub.. Biohub is a new research site that brings together three great scientific institutions in the world - UCSF, Stanford and Berkeley. These three groups are also in close proximity to each other, so it is possible to unite these groups in order to spread ideas between these institutions and communities.

Biohub works independently of CZI, but we fund them and work with them. Biohub’s co-presidents are Joe Dericey and Stephen Kwake , two people who illustrate our ideas about collaboration between institutions and the collaboration of scientists and engineers. Steve is known for helping develop a non-invasive blood test that is used to diagnose Down syndrome without amniocentesis. Joe is known for helping to discovernew viruses, including the coronavirus that caused SARS . Many of Biohub’s research projects are linked to the interests and experiences of these two leaders — for example, the discovery of an infectious disease through Joe’s research and single-cell technology , which is one of Steve’s main interests.


Biohub, an independent research center in Mission Bay Bay in San Francisco, which is headed by Joe Dearsey and Stephen Kwake - two people who illustrate our ideas about collaboration between institutions and the collaboration of scientists and engineers.

However, we are not limited to one region. For example, we run the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network(a network challenging the problems of neurodegeneration), which aims to bring together multidisciplinary networks of scientists, consulting doctors and engineers so that they can generate and test new approaches to solving one major problem - improving the understanding of the fundamental biology of neurodegenerative disorders. We have applicants from all over the world, and we are challenging ourselves, thinking about how to make these disparate groups work together for greater success. We have a lot of ideas on how to support new incentives, awards and promotions for collaborative research.

Designing Transformative Technologies

One of the things that I hear over and over again is that scientists are only as good as their instruments. At CZI, we see the opportunity to develop new tools so that our natural scientists can move even faster. One such example is our support for the Human Cell Atlas project . Atlas of human cells is a global syndicate whose purpose is to display and characterize all human cells. It will take years to complete the project, but then the atlas will become a fundamental resource for scientists, allowing them to better understand people's health and diagnose, manage and manage diseases. As part of these efforts, we work together with international genomics leaders from the European Institute of Bioinformatics ,Broad Institute and UC Santa Cruz to develop, finance, and collaboratively create a data coordination platform that will enable data exchange between researchers and research institutes.

At the same time, we are also creating tools that help scientists discover knowledge that already exists. Biomedicine publishes more than 4,000 articles daily . I can not read them. And no one else can, and therefore we need tools and technologies for a reasonable analysis of all this information. One such toolThe one we're working on is Meta, using artificial intelligence to analyze and organize biomedical papers for readers. With the help of Meta, scientists will be able to monitor achievements in their fields in real time and identify new trends at the intersection of areas. We are all working on this project, but when it is ready, Meta will be available to all researchers, and we will openly share our methods and sample data packages with the help of various publications and code.

One of the main principles underlying everything we do at CZI is to listen and learn from the communities we serve, because no one understands these problems better than the people who test them on themselves every day. That is why our computational biologists and software developers work with scientists on site to identify problems and create open source tools for analyzing, visualizing and sharing data using advanced technologies, data analysis theory and methods, machine learning and cloud approaches. data processing. Sometimes this means developing new tools. In other cases, this means reaching consensus on formats, standards or reference data sets. Open source storage example,can be found here .

Open science, faster progress

We believe that the sharing of data and results, open source software, experimental methods and biological resources will accelerate progress in all areas as soon as possible. That is why we support platforms such as bioRxiv , which allow researchers to share and receive feedback on preprints before they are presented in journals. In many cases, we require researchers to submit the source text as a preprint before the peer review in order to communicate the results to the scientific community more quickly.

We release software developed by our own team and our funded partners, in accordance with open source licenses, and we jointly develop software on open sites such as GitHub . We do not request IP rights developed by our partners. And any IP created by a researcher who supports CZI, or as part of a research project funded by CZI, should be freely available for all academic and non-commercial purposes, including pre-sale use by commercial organizations.

We support open data sharing because it allows scientists to create projects based on each other’s experience to make new discoveries faster. This can significantly accelerate the pace of research and, in turn, our understanding of health and disease.

We are just starting

We are a new organization, and we have something to learn. We are trying to contribute, attracting new opportunities to solve scientific problems, especially those that come from new technologies. We believe that in all areas, especially in science, talented and motivated people are moving forward. By combining these talented people and providing them with new tools that are reliable, functional, scalable and affordable, we hope that we will be able to open up new opportunities and speed up work.

To learn more about working in science, visit our website or follow us on Twitter . To learn more about our technology team, subscribe to the CZI technology blog.. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on funding opportunities . And you can always contact us at science@chanzuckerberg.com.

Oh, did I mention that we are looking for employees ?

Cornelia Bargmann, an internationally recognized neuroscientist and geneticist, leads our scientific work. Dr. Bargmann is also the head of the Neural Circuits and Behavior Laboratory of Lulu and Anthony Wang and a professor at Rockefeller University Torsten Niels Wiesel in New York. Dr. Bargmann is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She received the Kavli Prize in 2012 in the field of neuroscience and the prize for breakthroughs in the biomedical industry in 2013, in addition to many other scientific awards. She also co-chaired a committee at the National Institutes of Health, which set goals and strategies for the Obama project to research by promoting innovative neurotechnologies (BRAIN Initiative).

Translation: Diana Sheremyeva

Receipt of applications to the Filtech-accelerator extended until September 27.

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