Board meetings at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a research center backed by Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, always kick off in the same way.
Each quarter, a promising young scientist funded by the Biohub is invited to a conference room at the Palo Alto offices of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the family's philanthropic investment group. That's where Zuckerberg takes a hiatus from email to spend a little time learning about science.
Last April, that scientist was Markita Landry, a chemical engineer who runs a lab at UC Berkeley. Landry was among the first researchers to get funding from the Biohub for a multi-year effort to develop tools to measure the chemistry of the brain. Landry shared some of her progress so far. Then Zuckerberg chimed in with a series of questions about the time it would take for her technology to be implemented, and the kind of influence it would have on human lives.
Landry told the board that her eventual goal was to test the effectiveness of drugs prescribed for mental health conditions, like depression, which is much-needed in the medical community.
"As scientists, we tend to think about moving in increments of weeks or months, but Mark prompted me to talk about the potential impact in years or even decades," Landry explained.
Few scientists get such dedicated time with the world's most famous entrepreneur. But the meetings also give Zuckerberg a brief break from the daily battles of running a public company to nerd out for a while. It also means some face-time with Chan, who stopped practicing medicine last year to head up CZI full-time, as well as Hoffman, a longtime Facebook investor and friend, and CZI science chief Cori Bargmann. Academic representatives from Stanford, Berkeley and UC San Francisco also attend, including the Biohub's co-leaders Joe DeRisi and Steve Quake.