The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, celebrating scientists and generating excitement about the pursuit of science as a career announced the initial recipients of the foundation’s awards. Founding sponsors of the Breakthrough Prize include Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg, founder, chairman, and CEO of Facebook; and Yuri Milner, founder of Mail.ru Group, who collectively have agreed to establish five annual prizes, US$3 million each, going forward. Art Levinson, Chairman of the Board of Apple and Chairman and former CEO of Genentech, will serve as the Chairman of the Board of the Foundation.
“I am delighted to announce the launch of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and welcome its first recipients," said Levinson. “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.”
“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,” said Wojcicki.
“Curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown,” said Brin.
“Priscilla and I are honored to be part of this,” said Zuckerberg. “We believe the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences has the potential to provide a platform for other models of philanthropy, so people everywhere have an opportunity at a better future.”
“olving the enormous complexity of human diseases calls for a much bigger effort compared to fundamental physics and therefore requires multiple sponsors to reward outstanding achievements,” said Milner.
Going forward, each year’s prize winners will join the Selection Committee for future awardees. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Breakthrough Prize will be a transparent selection process, in which anyone will be able to nominate a candidate online for consideration. Also, the prize can be shared between any number of scientists and can be received more than once.
All Breakthrough Prize recipients will be invited to present public talks targeting a general audience. These lectures, together with supporting materials, will be made available to the public, allowing everyone to keep abreast of the latest developments in life sciences, guided by contemporary masters of the field.
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 NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. For the discovery of PI 3-Kinase and its role in cancer metabolism.
Hans Clevers: Professor of Molecular Genetics at Hubrecht Institute. President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. 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.