Facebook, Google Founders Give Millions to Save Lives
Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of the Vitruvian Man.
CREDIT: U.S. Public Domain/Wikimedia
How much is life really worth? At least $33 million, according to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin. That’s how much the famed Internet moguls have awarded the winners of the first annual Breakthrough Prize in Sciences.
On Wednesday, Brin and Zuckerberg, along with their wives, joined forces with Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner to award 11 scientists $3 million each to continue their research in curing disease and extending human life.
Anne Wojcicki, wife of Brin and co-founder of DNA testing startup 23andMe, told the Agence France-Presse that she and her husband are thrilled to support the risk-taking scientists whose research impacts human life around the globe.
“These scientists should be household names and heroes in society,” Wojcicki said.
The awards were given on behalf of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation founded by Brin, Zuckerberg, and Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech and Apple.
Cornelian Bargmann of Rockefeller University was one of the scientists who received the $3 million prize. Her work focuses on the influence of genetics and the environment on the nervous system. Bargmann told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that she may use the prize money to promote conservation in the developing world.
Another winner, Napoleone Ferrara of the University of California, told the AAAS that he was “a bit stunned” to receive such a generous prize for his research on blood vessel growth in tumors. But he said the award was “a great honor.”
Ferrara and Bargmann, along with the other recipients of this year’s awards, will help select five winners for next year’s Breakthrough Prizes.