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Can You Really End All Disease?

By Genevieve Cunningham

You may have heard the big news about Mark Zuckerberg. The founder of Facebook has made an incredibly generous pledge to the American people. With a $3 billion contribution, Zuckerberg hopes to cure, prevent, or manage all disease within his children’s lifetime. While this offer is one that comes from a place of concern and is obviously heartfelt, is it actually possible? Can you cure or eliminate all disease? If so, why haven’t we done it? In a recent article on NBC News, we get the reality of the offer and whether it’s really possible.

Big Bucks Might Not Be the Answer

While money for research is obviously beneficial, it may not be the only obstacle. In fact, there are already major organizations making similar contributions to the cause. The National Institute of Health had a budget of $32 billion last year. The CDC had a budget of $7 billion. And then you still have contributions from private or charity organizations. The Gates Foundation donates $10 billion, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute offers $8 billion. Big bucks are already being given to the cause, and additional funding certainly won’t hurt, but will it be the final tipping point? Only time will tell.

Disease is Ever Changing

There are so many kinds of disease. From viruses to cancers to bacteria-based illness, the world of disease is endless. And what’s more, it seems to evolve all of the time. A recent and heavily publicized research team at Harvard just showed how an illness can evolve and become resistant to antibiotics. Last year, very few people in the United States had never even heard of Zika, and now it’s a serious threat. AIDS was a disease that seemed to pop up out of absolutely nowhere. With the changing nature of disease, it’s hard to be on top of all of it. While research money will absolutely help in the cause, it may be some time yet before researchers can understand every disease enough to manage them.

So, What’s the Reality?

The reality of the situation is that Mark Zuckerberg’s contribution is incredibly helpful to the cause, but the end goal might not be realistic in the relatively short time frame. Disease is complicated. It changes and morphs and alters itself to survive. Though more research will undoubtedly lead to great advancements and medical breakthroughs, it may take significant time to cure, prevent, or manage ALL disease. While the cause and intent is noble and a cure is hopeful, the work and ultimate goal may be a while yet.

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