The University of California San Diego has received a received 15 million USD Coin (USDC) donation from a fund directed by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. The Balvi Filantropic Fund “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," its website says.
It has been reported according to UCSD that the donation is one of the largest gifts of cryptocurrency ever to a United States university, as well as the largest donation to date to fund open-source research on aerosols. The funds will be used to establish the Meta-Institute for Airborne Disease in a Changing Climate, which will also be known as “The Airborne Institute."
However, UCSD said 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.
“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.”
Kim Prather, an 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.”
Thus, 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.