CHICAGO — Three Illinois universities will work with a group founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and philanthropist Priscilla Chan to create a new research lab in Chicago that aims to understand and treat the causes of disease.
The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Chicago will host research into human tissues with goals of developing new treatments and making progress in fields like regenerative medicine, officials announced Thursday.
The University of Chicago in Hyde Park, Northwestern University in Evanston and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will work with the Chan Zuckerberg Institute to conduct research at the biohub. Chicago was chosen for the lab out of about 60 applicants, officials said.
“This institute will embark on science to embed miniaturized sensors into tissues that will allow us to understand how healthy and diseased tissues function in unprecedented detail,” Chan said in a statement.
The project has secured at least $275 million in funding. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will invest $250 million, according to Forbes, while the state will give $25 million in capital funds.
“We’re incredibly proud that three Illinois universities will play a critical role in launching … a biomedical research hub that will take medical research to a new level,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement. “Illinois is home to the best and brightest minds, and I look forward to seeing their new discoveries help people around the world.”
Scientist and Northwestern Professor Shana Kelley will lead the biohub, and researchers will study inflammation and immune system functions to start. They’ll monitor immune cells within tissues to discover ways to “steer the immune system away from the ‘tipping points’ that lead to inflammatory disorders,” officials said.
“Partnership enriches our shared work immensely and advances discovery on the type of scale that no individual institution could achieve alone,” UChicago President Paul Alivisatos said in a statement.
The biohub plans to start operations next month, though officials would not say where the lab is located. The lab will have “its own dedicated space in an area of the city that is considered a hub for innovation in the life sciences,” said Leah Duran, a spokesperson for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
The first Chan Zuckerberg Biohub was founded in San Francisco in 2016, also with support from three in-state universities.
Researchers there led a cell atlas project that mapped each cell type in humans, mice, flies and lemurs for the first time, as well as an infectious disease project that assisted with California’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
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