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GEN News Highlights : Feb 21, 2013
A Windfall for Rock Star Researchers
Facebook founder, chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan; Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife, 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki; and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner today awarded $3 million each to 11 biotech and biomedical pioneers through their Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation.
“These prizes will be awarded for past achievements in the field of life sciences, with the aim of providing the recipients with more freedom and opportunity to pursue even greater future accomplishments,” the foundation stated on its website.
The foundation’s 11 winners were honored yesterday in a ceremony at University of California, San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus:
“We are thrilled to support scientists who think big, take risks, and have made a significant impact on our lives. These scientists should be household names and heroes in society,” Wojcicki said in a statement.
Said Brin in the statement: “Curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown.”
Milner last summer awarded $3 million Fundamental Physics Prizes to nine physicists, and is set to name another set of winners on March 20. “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 in the statement.
Milner, Wojcicki, and Zuckerberg also serve as directors of the foundation, which is being chaired by Art Levinson, chairman of Apple’s board, and chairman and former CEO of Genentech before its $47 billion acquisition by Roche in 2009.
The $3 million awards are more than twice the sum earned by individual Nobel laureates, making breakthrough the world’s richest prize for life-sci achievement. Going forward, the foundation said, it will award its $3 million prizes to five life scientists annually, for a total $15 million.
In addition, each year’s prize winners will join the foundation’s Selection Committee for future awardees. However, anyone will be able to nominate a candidate online, and nominees face no age restrictions. The prize can be shared between any number of scientists, and winners can receive the prize more than once in their lifetimes.
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