The founders of Facebook and Google have teamed up with a Russian billionaire to launch a new science prize.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sergey Brin and the Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner will give 11 scientists $3 million each to launch the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
The prize is also supported by Zuckerberg's wife Priscilla Chan and Brin's spouse Anne Wojcicki, who also founded the genetics company 23andMe.
Its aim is to reward transformative work in biology and chemistry.
Brin said that "curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown".
Zuckerberg said that "society needs more heroes" and added he hoped the prize would inspire new innovation in medicine.
The 11 initial winners include geneticists, medics and molecular biologists.
One winner - Cornelia Bargmann from Rockefeller Universty - told Fast Company that the scale of the award was so vast she initially assumed it was a scam.
From 2014 five winners will be chosen every year for the Breakthrough Prize.
The full list of the winners is as follows:
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- 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.