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ZuckerChan cash dump seals first biz gobble: A research paper slurper

Meta will be first to suck Mark Zuck's bucks

By Shaun Nichols, 24 Jan 2017

The $3bn philanthropy initiative led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan has agreed to acquire Meta: an AI-based aggregator for medical research studies.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) says that it will be making the Meta service free for all researchers to use globally, though no timeline was given for its availability.

Meta looks to use an AI system to pore over medical research papers and find connections between the various filings. Those connections are then used to help researchers sort through millions of papers and find the reports that would be most useful in their respective fields.

"The potential for this kind of platform is virtually limitless: a researcher could use Meta to help identify emerging techniques for understanding coronary artery disease; a graduate student could see that two different diseases activate the same immune defense pathway; and clinicians could find scientists working on the most promising Zika treatments sooner," wrote CZI CTO Brian Pinkerton and president of science Cori Bargmann.

"In the long run, it could be extended to other areas of knowledge: for example, it could help educators stay up to date on developmental science to better understand how children learn."

The acquisition is the first to be made by the CZI in its campaign to use $3bn worth of the Facebook first family's fortune to try to wipe out disease by the end of this century.

The LLC has previously said AI and machine learning would be major areas of focus going forward. Other projects include a $600m biomedical research hub in San Francisco and an effort to create a catalogue of all the various cell types in the human body and how they interact. ®

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