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For the Risk

The Open Philanthropy Project has spent about $200 million this year, including $40 million on scientific research, a move that Nature News says will raise its profile among funders.

Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, who is estimated to be worth $14 billion, and his wife Cari Tuna started the organization in 2011, Nature News notes, adding that the organization has particularly asked researchers whose risky projects were rejected by the National Institutes of Health to apply to it for funding.

About 120 researchers re-submitted their rejected NIH proposals to Open Phil, according to Nature News, and the organization has now funded a range of projects. It has, for instance, given $17.5 million to the Imperial College London-based Target Malaria project that is developing gene drives to control mosquito populations in areas affected by malaria as well as $2 million the University of Notre Dame's Gregory Timp to develop a protein-sequencing tool.

Nature News notes that many philanthropies avoid funding basic research because of the risk involved, but Marc Kastner, the Science Philanthropy Alliance president tells Nature News that organizations like Open Phil and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are used to that. "They don't want to be supporting a sure thing," he adds.

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