Famed founders of Internet rivals Google and Facebook joined forces on
Wednesday to back big-money prizes for research aimed at extending human
Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg, along with their spouses,
joined Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner to award 11 scientists $3
million each to launch the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
"Priscilla and I are honored to be part of this," Zuckerberg said.
believe the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences has the potential to
provide a platform for other models of philanthropy, so people
everywhere have an opportunity at a better future."
who chairs boards at mobile device powerhouse Apple and biotechnology
star Genentech, will head the non-profit foundation created to support
Levinson said he believes the prize will
spotlight outstanding minds in medicine and hopes it will help enhance
Zuckerberg, Milner, and Brin's wife Anne
Wojcicki will be on the foundation's board of directors. They have
agreed that going forward, five annual Breakthrough prizes of $3 million
each will be awarded.
"We are thrilled to support scientists who
think big, take risks and have made a significant impact on our lives,"
said Wojcicki, co-founder of startup 23andMe, which provides personal
DNA testing services.
"These scientists should be household names and heroes in society."
remarked that "curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown"
in an apparent reference to riches heaped on professional athletes such
as those who play US football.
This year's Breakthrough Prize
winners, many of whom targeted cancer in their research, agreed to serve
on a committee to select future honorees.
"Solving the enormous
complexity of human diseases calls for a much bigger effort compared to
fundamental physics and therefore requires multiple sponsors to reward
outstanding achievements," Milner said of the Silicon Valley
heavyweights teaming up to back the award.