Priscilla Chan and her husband, Mark Zuckerberg, created their namesake charity organization last year.

They are not the first billionaires to try to disrupt science. But Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, physician and educator Priscilla Chan, have enlisted a ‘dream team’ of scientific leaders to oversee a US$3-billion effort to boost basic research.

“We see this work as being led and done by scientists,” Chan told Nature before the couple unveiled the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s plans on 21 September. She and her husband created the initiative in December to invest proceeds from their Facebook shares to aid causes such as education, health research and Internet connectivity.

Zuckerberg and Chan have set themselves an audacious goal: eliminating, curing or preventing disease by the end of the century. They intend to get there by coaxing teams with diverse expertise to collaborate on developing new tools and technologies — something that scientists say is sorely needed. The $3-billion commitment announced today will cover the project’s first ten years.

“Building tools requires bringing scientists and engineers together in large numbers for large periods of time, and that’s not something most science funding is set up to do,” Zuckerberg told Nature. “That emerged to us as a big opening where we could help grow this movement among other scientific funders.”