$33 Million Life Sciences Prizes Handed Out to 11 Researchers
Yuri Milner, who became rich by founding Russia's big internet company mail.ru, has convinced Mark Zuckerberg, Art Levinson and Sergey Brin to all sponsor a new annual science prize of $3 million dollar each for outstanding researchers who are working towards curing diseases and extending human life.
Today, 11 inaugural winners were announced who will receive US$3 million each for Groundbreaking Achievements in Life Science Research, including work in cancer genomics and tumour suppressor genes and the discovery of general principles for identifying human disease genes. Silicon Valley titans from Facebook, Apple and Google, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, Art Levinson, Sergey Brin, US biologist Anne Wojcicki, and Yuri Milner announced today the launch of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, recognizing excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life. The prize will be administered by the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, celebrating scientists and generating excitement about the pursuit of science as a career.
"I am delighted to announce the launch of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and welcome its first recipients," said Art Levinson. "I believe this new prize will shine a light on the extraordinary achievements of the outstanding minds in the field of life sciences, enhance medical innovation, and ultimately become a platform for recognizing future discoveries."
"Curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown," said Sergey Brin.
Milner surprised the science world back in August 2012 when he suddenly handed out nine theoretical physics prizes of $3 million each, completely surprising the recipients with the pile of cash. The first nine physicists are all on a committee to choose this year's physics winners.
The new Breakthrough Prize Foundation for life sciences follows the same format as the physics one, with today's 11 winners going on a committee to choose the next five winners. The prize will continue annually, with each year's winners joining the committee for future awards.
There won't be any age restrictions on potential prize winners, any number of scientists can share a prize and anyone can be nominated for consideration online.
The full list of winners:
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.
David Botstein, 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 New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
For the discovery of PI 3-Kinase and its role in cancer metabolism.
Hans Clevers, 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.
Napoleone Ferrara, 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.
Bert Vogelstein, 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.
Shinya Yamanaka, Director of Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University. Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco.
For induced pluripotent stem cells.