Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have joined forces with Google co-founder Sergey Brin and prominent tech investor Yuri Milner to launch the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a $33 million prize that rewards researchers who work at “curing intractable diseases and extending human life.” Apple chairman Art Levisohn will serve as the chairman of the foundation.
“Priscilla and I are honored to be part of this,” Zuckerberg said in a statement Wednesday announcing the new foundation. “We 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.”
The foundation has already selected 11 winners for this year — including neurobiologist Cornelia Bargmann, geneticist Hans Clevers and molecular biologist Napolean Ferrara — each of whom will receive $3 million. Going forward, the foundation will award five annual prizes — similar to the way the Nobel Prize works — for $3 million each.
During a press conference announcing the event, Zuckerberg praised the foundation as being the “largest prize” awarded to this kind of research in the world and said he hopes that it helps society recognize more engineers and scientists as “heroes.”