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Marc and Lynne Benioff Donate $35 Million to UCSF, Stanford to Benefit Microbiome Research

Backed by gifts totaling $35 million from Salesforce Chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne, UC San Francisco and Stanford University today announced they are launching new research initiatives on their respective campuses to leverage the growing science of the human microbiome. The efforts aim to develop microbe-based diagnostics and precision therapies for diseases ranging from allergy and asthma to inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.

UCSF will get $25 million to launch the UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine, which will be headed by Susan Lynch, PhD, a professor of medicine at UCSF, founding director of the UCSF Microbiome Research Core and associate director of the UCSF Microbiome in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Program.

Stanford will get $10 million for the Stanford Microbiome Therapies Initiative (MITI), which is being headed by Michael Fischbach, PhD, an associate professor of bioengineering and an Institute Scholar of Stanford ChEM-H. Philanthropists Mark and Debra Leslie have provided an additional $7 million to bring Stanford closer to its overall goal for the initiative.

"The funding represents an important financial but also symbolic investment in microbiome research, which is still in its earliest stages, said the scientists leading both campus initiatives," the San Francisco Chronicle reported. "They hope the funding will lead toward development of some of the first microbiome-based therapies to treat and prevent disease."

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of funding at UCSF," Marc Benioff said. "And as we’ve done that funding, we’ve come in contact with a lot of exciting, pioneering research, some of which doesn’t get the attention it deserves. We want to make the microbiome part of that effort. We strongly believe the microbiome is a critical part of the future longevity of human beings.”

Read the full San Francisco Chronicle story here.


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