Priscilla Chan: Queen of Philanthropy

Esta pediatra se ha propuesto erradicar las enfermedades infantiles en todo el mundo. Se trata de un proyecto de una ambición extraordinaria que requiere de una financiación a la altura. Su iniciativa filantrópica ya empieza a dar sus frutos.

Lourdes Gracia

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Molly Malcolm

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Priscilla Chan is an American paediatrician and philanthropist. She is probably best known, though, as the wife of Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Meta (formerly Facebook) — still the world’s largest and most powerful social media network.


Chan was born in 1985 and grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts. The eldest of three sisters, her parents were ethnic Chinese refugees who had left Vietnam in boats to escape government oppression. A brilliant student, Chan attended Harvard University, where she studied biology. It was in Harvard that Chan, who speaks fluent Cantonese as well as English, met her future husband, who was studying psychology and computer science. She then went on to study medicine at the University of California. The couple married in 2012 and they have three daughters, Maxima, August and Aurelia. 


Since 2015, Chan has headed the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a private philanthropic and political action company. The aim, she claims, is to use Facebook’s billions to end disease and transform education. While the initiative has been praised, its focus on young people is interesting. Facebook, which has become the major way that people communicate, create and share online, has been immersed in scandal: fake accounts, false advertising and the spread of misinformation. Also, like other social media sites such as Instagram (owned by Meta), YouTube (owned by Google), and TikTok (owned by Chinese company ByteDance), it has been blamed for the alarming increase in anxiety and depression among young people, who are most vulnerable to 24-hour social media that can foment bullying, insecurity and concern about body image. 


Chan sees science and education as an antidote. She is in charge of the day-to-day operations of CZI, which has awarded  approximately $4.8 billion in grants and invested nearly $300 million in ventures related to promoting housing affordability, criminal justice reform and immigration reform. The company also invests in the development and maintenance of open-source scientific software. Chan believes that the education system in the US needs updating: she thinks that US students should be taught differently. 


Chan wants an interconnected world with equal opportunities and is devoting a lot of money to improving the health and well-being of children. She is certainly idealistic: “By investing in science today, we hope to build a future in which all of our children can live long and rewarding lives,” she has said.

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