But the last two years have also, far more quietly, seen a series of new experiments in how to fund the next generation of scientific breakthroughs.
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The pandemic has seen a series of very public scientific breakthroughs: mRNA vaccine, Covid antibodies, CRISPR as therapy. The minds behind these advancements have graced magazine covers and received prestigious awards.
Since March 2020, investors, academics, a significant number of Silicon Valley types, at least one Russian billionaire and two crypto billionaires and, most recently, a few West Coast universities have launched a series of grant programs, institutes, NGOs and companies hoping to change how life science research is done. Though unaffiliated and varying greatly in both size and form, they have broadly promised to evade bureaucracy and misaligned incentives and advance both basic and not-so-basic research in ways they say can’t be done in either conventional academia or profit-focused biotech.