MARK ZUCKERBERG AND Priscilla Chan’s announcement in September that they will pour $3 billion into research, mainly at elite universities in California, with expressed interest to “cure all disease” within a century, was an endearing move from new money billionaires who have pledged to devote their phenomenal wealth to supporting biomedical research.
Sean Parker, another Facebook cofounder, in April promised $250 million, and Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison promised $200 million, to cancer centers. Eli Broad and Ted Stanley have contributed more than $1.4 billion in private wealth to fund the nonprofit Broad Institute research center and its associated Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. (I worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is affiliated with the Broad, for three years.)
But despite even the best intentions, the injection of private money into science is creating power alliances and disrupting the longstanding public research-funding model.