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Mark Zuckerberg says curing disease is a central aim of new philanthropy efforts

Mark Zuckerberg says curing disease is a central aim of new philanthropy efforts

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Amid a flurry of both criticism and congratulation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has posted on his own Facebook page once more to clarify that curing diseases is among the goals he intends to accomplish with his personal fortune of $45 billion. "Our country spends 50 times more money on treating people that are sick than we spend trying to cure the disease so people don't get sick in the first place," Zuckerberg said in a video accompanying a text post on Facebook. "We have a real shot of curing all of the diseases or at least most of them in the next 100 [years] if we do the right things."

Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan pledged their personal fortunes earlier this week to a new limited liability corporation called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. At the time, he said it was for "advancing human potential" and "promoting equality." That ambiguity has led to accusations that Zuckerberg may be dodging taxes or that his philanthropy ambitions may be restricted to furthering the Silicon Valley worldview, in contrast with the work of Bill and Melinda Gates’ nonprofit foundation. Zuckerberg explained in a follow-up post on Facebook why he chose to structure the initiative as a LLC, claiming it gives him and Chan flexibility on directing the flow of funding.

"If we invest more in science, we can make faster progress towards curing disease."

In his latest post, Zuckerberg has also identified development of clean energy, addressing "systematic issues around poverty and justice," and improving and modernizing schools as other potential focal points for his investments. He's already started on the first, having launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition in partnership with Bill Gates to spur private sector investment. But Zuckerberg has a more mixed history with education. He gave $100 million to the Newark public school system in 2010 only to see much of it wasted on bureaucracy and mismanagement.