Silicon Valley's leading technological minds announced on Wednesday $33 million in science prizes, trying to ensure that creative ideas on how to cure incurable diseases will be well-funded well into the future.
The creators of this new "Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences" are the Who's Who in technology.
They are: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan; Google's Sergey Brin and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, who founded 23andMe; Genentech's Art Levinson and Yuri Milner, who founded Mail.ru, a leading European Internet company.
"The reason why I’m excited about this is because I think that our society needs more heroes who are scientists and researchers and engineers," Zuckerberg said at the unprecedented event. "The thing we can do from the sidelines is build institutions that celebrate and reward and recognize all of the real work you guys are doing. Hopefully what we’re doing here today can create something that will be really inspiration to folks to encourage more people to do the important work you’re taking on."
Added Wojickicki: “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 heros in society."
The tech titans gave 11 people $3 million apiece at a ceremony at the University of California at San Francisco. Each were credited with their "excellence in research" aimed at curing disease and extending human life.
One of the winners is a UCSF professor, who also won the Nobel Prize last year for his work in stem cell research. Many others were credited for their work in cancer research.
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.
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 NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
For the discovery of PI 3-Kinase and its role in cancer metabolism.
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.
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.
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.
Director of Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University. Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco.
For induced pluripotent stem cells.