Mark Zuckerberg
Stock Photo: DEAUVILLE, FRANCE - MAY 26, 2011 : Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Press conference at the summit G8/G20 about new technologies - Deauville, France on May 26 2011 (Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com)

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have awarded their first series of grants to scientists thanks to their biomedical research program. The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative gave grants to a broad range of topics including genomics, cancer, and memory devices.

Forty-seven investigators were chosen out of 700 faculty members who applied. Those selected each will receive up to $1.5 million each in the next five years from the Chan-Zuckerberg biomedical research initiative.

“We’re investing $50 million in this first class of investigators. This program will provide 5 years of funding to some of the most innovative researchers in the Bay Area, especially focused on young scientists early in their careers,” Zuckerberg explained in a Facebook post.

Zuckerberg added, “This first group includes a Stanford data scientist working to analyze massive quantities of genomic data, a doctor from UCSF looking at how malaria spreads, an engineer from Berkeley who is designing tools to better understand human biology, including a miniature foldable microscope, and more. This is a diverse group, with almost 50% women and 15% underrepresented minorities.”

Announced in 2015, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative is a limited liability company founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative launched with an investment of up to $1 billion Facebook shares in each of the next three years. The mission of the initiative is to “advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research, and energy.”

Outside of the investigator program, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative has other initiatives including the Infectious Disease Initiative to help find ways to stop the spread of diseases. Also, the bio hub has the Cell Atlas project to help map the cells in the body to help discover new therapies.