Microsoft Co-Founder Gives $100 Million To Research Roots Of Cancer Billionaire Paul Allen's new institute in Seattle will examine how the cells in your body work — and how and why they malfunction, leading to tumors, Alzheimer's and other diseases.
NPR logo

Microsoft Co-Founder Gives $100 Million To Research Roots Of Cancer

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/369536804/369536805" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Microsoft Co-Founder Gives $100 Million To Research Roots Of Cancer

Microsoft Co-Founder Gives $100 Million To Research Roots Of Cancer

Microsoft Co-Founder Gives $100 Million To Research Roots Of Cancer

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/369536804/369536805" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Billionaire Paul Allen's new institute in Seattle will examine how the cells in your body work — and how and why they malfunction, leading to tumors, Alzheimer's and other diseases.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen has a big interest in cells - so much so he's donating $100 million to greater research institute in Seattle to study how cells work. NPR's Jon Hamilton reports one goal of the Allen Institute for Cell Science is to explain why cells malfunction in diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's.

JON HAMILTON, BYLINE: Rick Horwitz, the executive director of the new institute, says there is a compelling reason to learn more about the inner workings of cells.

RICK HORWITZ: Cells are the basis of disease. So if something goes wrong with the behavior of the cell, and that's what we don't know enough about.

HAMILTON: Of course, researchers have been studying cells for centuries. And Horwitz says many labs have already done a good job examining single components of a cell.

HORWITZ: But no one in one lab could actually study all the components of the cell. And the institute is centered around trying to bridge that barrier.

HAMILTON: Horwitz says new technology is making it possible to gather a huge amount of information about cells while they are working. He says the institute plans to offer that information in a visual format that will be easy for scientists to use.

HORWITZ: What we're going to do is Google Maps. And what we want to do is to create images where people can zoom in and zoom out.

HAMILTON: These maps will include information about the anatomy and function of a cell. They will also show how processes inside the cell can change and become abnormal over time. It's those changes that are the hallmarks of cancer, Alzheimer's and many other diseases. And Horwitz says everything created at the institute will be publicly available. That was the approach the Allen Institute for Brain Science adopted in 2003 when it was created. And it has helped make that institute an international powerhouse in research. Jon Hamilton, NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.