The Airborne Institute will use the generous grant to study the transmission of airborne diseases such as COVID-19.
According to a Mar. 7 announcement from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), the post-secondary institution has received a 15 million USD Coin (USDC) donation from the Balvi Filantropic Fund. The foundation is currently directed by Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin and “is a scientific investment and direct gifting fund for deploying quickly to high-value COVID projects that traditional institutional or commercial funding sources tend to overlook.” As told by UCSD, the donation is the largest gift of its kind to a U.S. university and will be used to establish the Meta-Institute for Airborne Disease in a Changing Climate, “The Airborne Institute.”
UCSD stated that the newly established institution would focus on the study of airborne diseases like influenza, tuberculosis, and COVID-19. Its ultimate aim is to develop new treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics for these diseases while improving understanding of how they are spread. Buterin said with regard to the development:
“I am pleased to support the creation of this new institute at UC San Diego, which will work to grow our scientific knowledge about airborne disease and share it freely, enabling changes to infrastructure and policy that benefit people around the globe.”
Meanwhile, atmospheric chemist and professor at UCSD, commented:
“Working together with health care experts, […] we will be developing state-of-the-art measurements and computational tools to study these problems. A major goal is to develop a better understanding of the production and sources of airborne bioparticles and how long they remain infectious.”
The institute will be housed in the UC San Diego School of Biological Sciences. Further research conducted by The Airborne Institute will be published in open-access journals, along with other data. Intellectual property developed by The Airborne Institute will also be published in the public domain.
Researchers associated with the institute recently published a study showing that nearly three-quarters of the aerosols near Imperial Beach contained bacteria associated with the raw sewage in the Tijuana Estuary (UCSD)