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Billionaire Marc Benioff Donates $35 Million To Bay Area Universities For Microbiome Research

Rachel Sandler
Billionaire Marc Benioff Donates $35 Million To Bay Area Universities For Microbiome ResearchImage source: Wikimedia Commons

Topline: Billionaire Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne announced a $35 million donation to a pair of Bay Area universities Tuesday that will go toward medical research involving the human microbiome, continuing the couple’s penchant for giving to institutions and causes around San Francisco, where Salesforce is based.

  • Of the gift, $25 million will go to the University of California San Francisco to open a new UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine, which will aim to develop study how to prevent childhood diseases and develop therapies for conditions including asthma, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease,
  • $10 million will go to Stanford to establish Stanford Microbiome Therapies Initiative.
  • The human microbiome—the 100 trillion bacteria that live in the human body—is an emerging field of study that has been linked to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, obesity, colon cancer and autism.

Key Background: The Salesforce CEO, who has a net worth that Forbes pegs at $6.1 billion and is known as San Francisco’s unofficial benefactor-in-chief, has so far funneled $200 million into UCSF, including a $30 million donation earlier this year to create the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, which will work to identify the root causes of homelessness. 

He also donated $7.9 million last year to the campaign to support Prop C, a measure to raise taxes on certain San Francisco businesses to fund homeless services. And when San Francisco’s mayor personally asked Benioff to help secure a facility to use as transitional housing for formerly homeless people, Benioff put up $6.1 million.

Tangent: Benioff isn’t the only tech titan funding microbiome research. The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic organization founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, is funding a similar, but separate, effort.

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