Perhaps taking a cue from Bill Gates, more of the richest and most successful tech moguls (and their significant others) are funding the new Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which is distributing $33 million to 11 different recipients for “excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life”.
The Breakthrough Prize brings together some of tech’s heavy hitters, including Apple
Chairman of the Board Art Levinson (who will serve as the Breakthrough Prize’s chairman, as well) and co-founders Sergey Brin
(of Google fame) and his wife Anne Wojcicki, who founded genetic testing company 23andMe; Yuri Milner, an early Facebook
investor who is now a billionaire; and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg
and his better half, Priscilla Chan.
L to R: Levinson, Zuckerberg, and Milner (Image credit: Forbes)
“I am delighted to announce the launch of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and welcome its first recipients," said Art Levinson in a press release. “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. ”
The founders have agreed to hereafter fund 5 annual prizes at $3 million each. That’s annual, as in every year for the foreseeable future.
Tech moguls are usually easy targets for criticism, and someone is always grousing about something they’re doing or pointing out how evil they can sometimes be--us included--but they should also be lauded for putting their money towards something that will substantially benefit humanity.
To the deeply skeptical, maybe this prize just looks like an elaborate tax shelter, but we’d rather believe that these folks lay awake at night formulating plans for how to turn their money into something profitable for the greater good.