Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, and his wife, Lynne Benioff, are donating $35 million to the University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University to launch new research initiatives to develop microbe-based diagnostics and precision therapies, according to a press release.
“Lynne and I are honored to support the cutting-edge research of two of the world’s leading universities as they pioneer a new era of microbiome research, science and therapies,” Marc Benioff said in the release. “With a deeper understanding of the human microbiome, our generation can unlock new treatments that impact lives around the world.”
UCSF will receive $25 million and Stanford will receive $10 million to launch the UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine and Stanford Microbiome Therapies Initiative.
“We are at a watershed moment in human biology — our health rests not only on the proper functioning of human genes, but also on the genes and products of our microbiome,” Susan Lynch, PhD, director of the UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine, said in the release. “At UCSF, we are leveraging this knowledge and our exceptional community of faculty across campus to identify those at risk of disease and to develop tailored microbiome interventions to promote health.”
The goal of the newly launched center at UCSF is to find new ways to predict, prevent and treat disorders linked to microbiome dysfunction, including gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
The initiative at Stanford, according to the release, will focus on developing microbial communities to create new microbiome-based therapies for testing in early-stage human clinical trials.
“The biggest opportunities and challenges in this area can be traced back to one thing — the microbiome has been impossible to study in a controlled way,” Michael Fischbach, PhD, director of the Stanford Microbiome Therapies Initiative (MITI), said in the release. “The discoveries that will stand the test of time, and will make a difference for patients, will come from building completely defined microbiomes and manipulating them precisely. The engineers and scientists in MITI are singularly focused on this goal and stand ready to invent any technology necessary to meet it.”