Facebook and Google join forces to launch new £10m 'Nobel prize' for science

 

The world's two leading internet giants have set aside their rivalries and joined forces to set up the most lucrative science prize in history.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are working alongside Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki to create the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The project's aim is to reward research aimed at extending human life.

In the first round of awards 11 scientists were awarded a total of $33m but going forward an annual amount of $15m will be set aside for five prize winners. Many of the prizewinners specialise in cell genetics and how this is relates to disease.

Mr Zuckerberg told France 24: "Priscilla and I are honoured to be part of this. We believe the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences has the potential to provide a platform for other models of philanthropy, to people everywhere has an opportunity at a better future."

Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner asked the group to create the award after deciding to model a prize on a physics award he set up in 2012. To top the line-up of internet greats behind the prize, Apple chairman Art Levinson is heading up the board.

Prize-winner Cornelia Bargmann, 51,  said: "I had to sit down for a while, I thought it must be a practical joke.

"The scale of this is so outsized I think it will have a huge impact on the life sciences."

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