Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Biologist and businesswoman Anne Wojcicki (Brin's wife), and investor Yuri Milner have announced a brand new yearly prize that rewards "excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life."
It's called the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Apple Chairman Art Levinson with chair the new foundation.
"Our society needs more heroes who are scientists, researchers and engineers. We need to celebrate and reward the people who cure diseases, expand our understanding of humanity and work to improve people's lives. That's why Priscilla and I are honored to partner with Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Art Levinson and Yuri Milner to create the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. At $3 million per prize, it's the largest prize for this work in the world. I'm hopeful this serves as a blueprint for prizes and philanthropy in other fields as well," said Zuckerberg in a Facebook post.
“Curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown,” added Sergey Brin.
The inaugural winners have been announced as well, and here's the full list:
Cornelia I. Bargmann
Torsten N. Wiesel Professor and Head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at the Rockefeller University. Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
For the genetics of neural circuits and behavior, and synaptic guidepost molecules
Director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics and the Anthony B. Evnin Professor of Genomics at Princeton University.
For linkage mapping of Mendelian disease in humans using DNA polymorphisms.
Lewis C. Cantley
Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor and Director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
For the discovery of PI 3-Kinase and its role in cancer metabolism.
Professor of Molecular Genetics at Hubrecht Institute.
For describing the role of Wnt signaling in tissue stem cells and cancer.
Titia de Lange
Leon Hess Professor, Head of the Laboratory of Cell Biology and Genetics, and Director of the Anderson Center for Cancer Research at the Rockefeller University.
For research on telomeres, illuminating how they protect chromosome ends and their role in genome instability in cancer.
Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Senior Deputy Director for Basic Sciences at Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego.
For discoveries in the mechanisms of angiogenesis that led to therapies for cancer and eye diseases.
Eric S. Lander
President and Founding Director of the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Professor of Biology at MIT. Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School.
For the discovery of general principles for identifying human disease genes, and enabling their application to medicine through the creation and analysis of genetic, physical and sequence maps of the human genome.
Charles L. Sawyers
Chair, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
For cancer genes and targeted therapy.
Director of the Ludwig Center and Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
For cancer genomics and tumor suppressor genes.
Robert A. Weinberg
Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research at MIT and Director of the MIT/Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology. Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
For characterization of human cancer genes.
Director of Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University. Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco.
For induced pluripotent stem cells.
Although the inaugural winners total 11, there will only be 5 winners per year moving forward. Each winner receives a $3 million (U.S.) prize. Winners will be selected with the help of previous year's winners. It will also be a transparent process, allowing for online nominations. There are no age restrictions when it comes to who can be nominated and ultimately win the prize.