A group of executives that includes local names such as Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki awarded $33 million in prizes to recognize research in life science aimed at curing disease and lengthening human life.
The group, which awarded 11 researchers $3 million each, makes up the board of directors of a new nonprofit called the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, according to a statement from the foundation.
Winners came from institutions such as the Hubrecht Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College and Princeton University. They made discoveries in cancer genomics, mechanisms of angiogenesis that led to therapies for cancer and eye disease, and research on telomeres.
"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 heroes in society," said Wojcicki, the co-founder of Mountain View-based 23andme, which provides individualized genetic testing.
The board also includes Zuckerberg's wife, Priscilla Chan; Art Levinson, member of the boards of directors for Apple and Genentech; and Yuri Milner, the founder of Mail.ru.
In the future, the foundation will award five annual prizes of $3 million each to winners who are chosen by a selection board that includes the previous year's winners.
The foundation touted its "transparent selection process" in which anyone will be able to nominate a candidate online. Also, prizes can be shared between any number of deserving scientists and can be received more than once, and there will be no age restrictions for nominees.