Donation News Profiles

Vitalik Buterin Puts Money Against Disease

Vitalik Buterin has donated $15 million in cryptocurrency to the University of California San Diego to fund research into airborne pathogens like COVID-19.

The Balvi Filanthropic Fund is the actual source of the donation, but it is directed entirely by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. It was founded in 2022 to handle another of Buterin’s donations, several million in Shiba Inu Coin also for research into COVID-19.

Buterin, 29, is a Russian-born Canadian who has dabbled in cryptocurrency since he was 17. In 2014, he, Gavin Wood, and a team of others founded Ethereum, a cryptocurrency platform with its own currency, Ether. Ether is the second-strongest cryptocurrency, and since September 2022 has cut its energy consumption by 99%, which may give it an edge to take the lead. His estimated net worth is currently over half a billion dollars, almost entirely in crytocurrency.

The Balvi Filanthropic Fund’s resources are more concrete. The fund has before now donated over $15 million to various COVID-related research projects, including a $5.3 million grant to the University of New South Wales for a tool to identify virus outbreaks early. The new donation nearly doubles this impact. They also made a $9 million donation to the University of Maryland, for research into how to create affordable systems to sanitize indoor air and slow the spread of airborne disease.

The $15 million given to UC San Diego will set up a new research unit, the Airborne Institute.

“Thank you Vitalik Buterin and Balvi for this opportunity to better understand the production, survival, and transport of airborne microbes in a changing climate worldwide,” said atmospheric chemist and professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC San Diego Kimberly Prather in a tweet.

Prather and Rommie Amaro, director of the National Biomedical Computation Resource at UC San Diego, will helm the new unit.

Photo: Alexey Smyshlyaev / Shutterstock