Tech Billionaires to Invest $33m in the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Sergey Brin (Google) and Yuri Milner (Digital Sky Technologies) along with some other notable figures in the IT sector have joined forces to launch the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation to foster researchers in the biotech sphere. The list of founding sponsors also includes Zuckerberg’s wife Priscilla Chan, Brin’s wife and co-founder of 23andMe Anne Wojcicki as well as Art Levinson of Apple, who has been appointed the Chairman of the Foundation’s board.

Pic.: The logo of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

A total annual prize of $33 m was awarded yesterday to 11 scientists selected by the committee, per $3 m to each. All of them were recognized for their achievements in researches “aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life.” In the coming years the Breakthrough prize, which is worth twice as much as the Nobel Prize, will be awarded annually to five researchers for their achievements in life sciences.

«We need to celebrate and reward the people who cure diseases, expand our understanding of humanity and work to improve people’s lives,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

The dedicated website explains the mission of the Foundation and lists the laureates of 2013 with the short descriptions of their researches. The online destination features the “Nominations” and “Lectures” sections, too, but these are now empty. The inaugural 11 recipients of the Prize are Cornelia I. Bargmann, David Botstein, Lewis C. Cantley, Hans Clevers, Napoleone Ferrara, Titia de Lange, Eric S. Lander, Charles L. Sawyers, Bert Vogelstein, Robert A. Weinberg and Shinya Yamanaka. They all have formed the selection committee, which will be determining the winners of the future Breakthrough Awards.