Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen pledges $100 million toward cutting-edge biotech research

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Investor, entrepreneur, billionaire and Bill Gates’ other half in the founding of Microsoft Paul Allen has announced a $100 million investment in the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a fund focusing on the future of biotech research.

Allen, who is worth about $15.3 billion, announced the investment today at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

The purpose of this investment is to “explore the landscape of bioscience and fund ideas at the frontier of knowledge to advance science and make the world better,” according to a statement.

“To make the kind of transformational advances we seek and thus shape a better future, we must invest in scientists willing to pursue what some might consider out-of-the-box approaches at the very edges of knowledge,” Allen said. “This of course entails a risk of setbacks and failures. But without risk, there is rarely significant reward, and unless we try truly novel approaches, we may never find the answers we seek.”

Over the next 50 years bioscience will undergo a radical transformation as advancements in life sciences converge with mathematics, physical sciences and engineering.
— Tom Skalak

Though the Frontiers Group is based in Seattle, Allen assured the audience the new foundation will partner to create projects at various U.S. and global institutions — starting with the Allen Discovery Centers and Allen Distinguished Investigators.

The new Allen Discovery Centers will offer up to $30 million in funding ($20 million of which will be doled out over an eight-year period) and initially includes work with Stanford and Tufts University.

The Allen Distinguished Investigator (ADI) program will offer a smaller amount of $1 million to $1.5 million each and will support early-stage research in conjunction with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), MIT, UC Berkeley (utilizing Jennifer Doudna’s CRISPR Cas9 technology), as well as the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière in France.

Focus areas for the first leg of the funded projects include developing methods to read and write code for tissue and organ regeneration, using synthetic biology to fight deadly drug-resistant bacteria, determining the principles of biological innovation and the creation of computational models to understand the multicellular basis of infectious disease.

“Over the next 50 years bioscience will undergo a radical transformation as advancements in life sciences converge with mathematics, physical sciences and engineering,” newly appointed head of the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group Tom Skalak said in a statement. “The time is now to make this type of transformative investment in bioscience to advance the field and ultimately to make the world better.”

Featured Image: Paul G Allen Foundation