Elsewhere online
September 23, 2016

Daily News Roundup: Digging Deeper Into $3 Billion Chan-Zuckerberg Pledge

Research Focus Backs Chan-Zuckerberg’s Ambitious Cure-All: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s $3 billion pledge to fund efforts to eradicate all disease by the end of the century “isn’t as crazy as it sounds,” The Atlantic writes in an analysis of the couple’s plan. Unlike most medical charities, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will bankroll basic research rather than focusing on a single disease, making it more like “a smaller, perhaps more nimble National Institutes of Health,” capable of discoveries that have unexpected but valuable consequences, according to the magazine. The BBC asks scientists whether the goal set by the Facebook CEO and his physician wife is realistic, while a Financial Times editorial lauds the couple’s ambition and approach while urging them to set a high bar for transparency and seek wider philanthropic cooperation. Guardian columnist Ian Sample writes that "it's "tempting to dismiss the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as hubris" but "audacious goals are precisely what are needed" to make a difference in medicine.

Harvard Endowment Declined by 2% in Fiscal 2016: The world’s wealthiest university endowment lost $1.9 billion for the year ending June 30 and now stands at $35.7 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports. The investment results are the endowment's worst since 2009, when the financial crisis slashed the fund by 27.3 percent. The university pinned the 2016 drop on losses in its public-equity and natural-resource holdings, both of which were down more than 10 percent. The Harvard Management Company, which oversees the endowment, is searching for a new chief executive following the departure of Stephen Blyth, who stepped down in July after 18 months on the job.

Buffalo-Born Financier Gives $42.5 Million to Hometown Museum: The upstate New York city’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery will be renamed the Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum in recognition of the contribution by native son Jeffrey Gundlach, the founder of Los Angeles investment firm DoubleLine Capital, reports Buffalo Business First. The challenge gift has already brought in matching funds from private donors and New York State as the museum raises money for a $125 million expansion. The breakneck drive has topped nine figures within three months of launching its quiet phase, making it “probably the fastest capital campaign in U.S. history,” museum director Janne Sirén told The New York Times.

$25 Million Gift Boosts Genetics Work at Philadelphia Hospital: The donation from the family of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts will establish the Roberts Collaborative for Genetics and Individualized Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The new entity will focus on the use of genetic data to personalize diagnoses and therapies for individual pediatric patients and unite the medical center’s ongoing research into cancer, autism, and other disorders. The gift was spearheaded by Aileen Roberts, the cable executive’s wife and a former member of the hospital’s board, and covers half the expected cost of the genomics venture.

Sunlight Foundation’s Woes Show "Civic Tech" at a Crossroads: The Atlantic looks at the state of “civic technology” — using digital tools to increase government and political openness — in light of the Sunlight Foundation’s financial and leadership troubles. The decade-old nonprofit, which has seen fundraising slacken in recent years and has been without a top executive since January, said this week that it will no longer finance its tech arm, Sunlight Labs, and may need to find a merger partner to remain in operation. Sunlight’s problems “crystallize an uneasy moment in the field of civic technology,” the magazine writes: Issues of transparency have come to the fore in the presidential campaign, but the organization most closely associated with tapping tech to bear on the issue “seemingly has no idea what to do with itself.”

N.Y. Council Members Eye Restrictions on Nonprofit Politicking: Three city lawmakers are working on bills to tighten regulations on political activity by 501(c)(4) “social welfare” groups, according to the Gotham Gazette, a news site covering New York politics. The legislative push comes amid scrutiny of the Campaign for One New York, a now-defunct nonprofit that raised millions of dollars to promote Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policies. Proposals in the pending council bills include imposing on some nonprofits the same contribution limits and donor-disclosure requirements applied to political-campaign bodies.