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Tech billionaires announce life sciences prize

San Francisco - Some of the world's best known technology tycoons including Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg launched a $15-million annual prize this week to reward groundbreaking achievements in life sciences.

The idea of the Breakthrough Prize for Life Sciences is to generate excitement and financial reward for outstanding scientific achievement, similar to those that are generated by athletes.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg whose net worth is $28.5 billion, according to Forbes. He is 30. Credit: REUTERS

In the inaugural year, the prizes of $3-million each were awarded to 11 scientists in the field of cancer and genetic research.

“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 director Anne Wojcicki, who is Brin's wife and founder of the personal genome company 23andMe. “Curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown.”

The prize's first 11 recipients are: Cornelia Bargmann, David Botstein, Lewis Cantley, Hans Clevers, Napoleone Ferrara, Titia de Lange, Eric Lander, Charles Sawyers, Bert Vogelstein, Robert Weinberg and Shinya Yamanaka. - Sapa-dpa

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