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Spending billions of dollars in philanthropic pursuits, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have pledged to do, isn’t as easy as it sounds. It will take careful thought and attention to get the biggest bang for their bucks. STAT asked several experts what they would advise the couple to do.

France A. Córdova: Discovery
Dimitri T. Azar: Mobile medicine
Jeffrey M. Drazen: Partner with Bill Gates
Eli and Edythe Broad: Education
Cornelia Bargmann: More education
Bill and Melinda Gates: Planting seeds


By France A. Córdova: Invest it in discovery — in people and fundamental research, in all fields of science and engineering. Plant the seed of innovation, and your return on investment will be ingenious new companies, life-saving technologies, or answers to primordial mysteries of our universe. It will support this nation’s economy, security, and competitive edge for generations to come.

France A. Córdova is the director of the National Science Foundation.

By Dimitri T. Azar: As a doctor and medical school dean, I believe that the time is right to capture the full potential of mobile medicine. This would be a perfect investment for Mr. Zuckerberg, who has helped revolutionize mobile communication. Marrying medicine to mobile technology and teaching doctors how to master it would provide 21st-century access to health care in areas where it does not exist, such as in developing countries and underserved areas of the United States and other developed countries.


As an individual, I think that investing heavily in education would be the absolute best thing to do. Long-term improvements in health and well-being will come from educating individuals at all levels of society around the globe.

Dimitri T. Azar, MD, is dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, the largest medical school in the United States.

By Jeffrey M. Drazen: I suggest that Mark Zuckerberg join the Gates Foundation in its efforts.

Jeffrey M. Drazen, MD, is editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

By Eli and Edythe Broad: Edye and I congratulate Mark and Priscilla on the birth of their daughter, and we commend them on their commitment to giving back. They will find great joy in their philanthropy, especially because they are starting early in life. We believe that education is the foundation of all else and the greatest investment you can make. If you give someone a solid education, they will have the skills and knowledge to be productive and successful. Those of us who have achieved the American dream have a responsibility to give future generations the same opportunity, and we would encourage Mark and Priscilla to focus their giving on public education.

Eli and Edythe Broad established The Broad Foundations to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science, and the arts.

By Cornelia Bargmann: The path to equality, in this country and around the world, is through education. You can achieve that goal with good teachers, who are paid enough that they can afford to take that job, and small class sizes. These are problems that can be solved with funding and determination.

Cori Bargmann, PhD, is a professor at The Rockefeller University and co-chair of the National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative advisory committee.

By Bill and Melinda Gates: Welcome to the world, Max! We can’t wait to meet you. You are lucky to have such an amazing mom and dad. Mark and Priscilla: Congratulations—we’re thrilled for both of you! Raising children is a great adventure and the best thing we have ever done together. You will be fantastic parents.

As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow. The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world. We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, “seeds planted now will grow.” Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come.

Bill and Melinda Gates founded and oversee the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is tackling critical problems in global health, education, and other health and social issues.