Chen Tianqiao (Chinese: 陈天桥), born in 1973, Zhejiang Province, China, was the richest Chinese in 2004. He is the board president and co-founder of Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited. He currently, with US$2.9 billion wealth ranks as 81th richest person in Mainland China, and 638th richest in the world, according to the Hurun Rich List 2016 and Hurun Report Global Rich List 2016.
On 6th December 2016, the California Institute of Technology ( Caltech) announced that Chinese entrepreneur Chen Tianqiao and his wife Chrissy Luo donate $115M to Caltech for New Neuroscience Research Department. This program aims to help scientists and researchers to study the brain, explore the operation mechanism of the basic level of the brain, as well as diseases and aging caused by the failure of the brain operation principle. Chen Tianqiao said that the study of the human brain is the basis for the development of artificial intelligence in the future.
Chen and Luo, who are husband and wife, are deeply committed to supporting brain research to promote and improve the well-being of humanity. Caltech, with its intimate research environment and quantitative approach to probing the biological and computational complexity of the brain, as well as its robust history in the fields of neuroscience and fundamental biology, is uniquely poised to advance discoveries and to develop new insights that will lead to innovation and improvement in the human condition.
Central to the initiative is the creation of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech, where research investigations will span a continuum, from deciphering the basic biology of the brain to understanding sensation, perception, cognition, and human behavior, with the goal of making transformational advances that will inform new scientific tools and medical treatments.
The Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute at Caltech will be supported through the Chens’ investment, which includes endowed funds to be used at the discretion of Caltech’s leadership to support activities such as seeding new lines of research and supporting promising early-career faculty and scholars. In addition, as part of the neuroscience initiative, Caltech will construct a $200 million biosciences complex named in honor of the Chens that will include state-of-the-art facilities for the Chen Institute at Caltech.
Chen and Luo founded Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited in 1999, which became the largest online entertainment developer and publisher in China. The company has since transformed into a global private investment company. The couple are longtime philanthropists who have provided funding toward medical programs for children in China and Mongolia, supported education for underprivileged families, and contributed to disaster relief and rebuild efforts in China. Through collaborations with top global universities, the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute’s brain research initiative will be focused on three areas: brain discovery, treatment, and development. This gift to Caltech represents the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute’s first investment in this initiative and at an institution in the United States.
“Our involvement in the Internet and entertainment industries allowed us to witness the ability for technology advancements to influence human perception, as well as to observe the resultant meaningful effects on human behavior,” says Chen Tianqiao, co-founder of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute. “However, there is little understanding about how the brain processes and connects what lies in between—sensation, perception, cognition, and action. We believe uncovering how the brain perceives, interprets, and interacts with the world is pivotal in so many aspects. It can shape groundbreaking industries such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality. It also plays a critical role in addressing social issues such as aging and behavioral deficiencies. It can even help answer many ultimate questions about life, such as its origin, purpose, and ending. This is the mission of our philanthropy, and we are dedicating an initial one billion dollars to this cause.”
Chrissy Luo, co-founder of Shanda and the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute, adds, “We spent two years learning the subject from highly regarded global universities with whom we continue to have conversations. We chose Caltech as our first partner not just for their strong reputation as a leading research institution, but also for the admiration in their natural alignment with Shanda’s culture, which is focused on creating excellence and discovery. We have enjoyed the strong working relationship with Caltech and are firmly confident of this partnership.”
Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of Hurun Report, interviewed Chen Tianqiao in Tokyo few weeks ago, which is Chen’s first interview with the media in seven years. Here is a video from Rupert talked about what he knows about Chen and Chen’s future plan.