The pair, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have teamed up for social good, establishing a science research prize that’s already awarded $33 million in its inaugural round.
A Big Stakes Science Fair
The award, known as the Breakthrough Prize, will be doled out to five winners each year, though a robust selection of 11 recipients were announced in the first round. The founding members of the new science foundation have committed to establish five annual prizes of $3 million for outstanding research that advances cures for intractable diseases.
Other founding members of the Breakthrough Prize include the wives of both Brin and Zuckerberg, who are both more science-minded than their tech-star partners. Anne Wojcicki, married to Brin, is the founder of 23andme.com – a genetics startup. Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg’s wife, graduated from medical school after meeting Zuck at Harvard and was accepted to a prestigious pediatric residency at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) last year.
“Priscilla and I are honored to be part of this,” Zuckerberg wrote in the prize’s announcement. “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.”
Apple chairman Art Levinson will serve as the new foundation’s chairman, rounding out the trifecta of major tech companies with a hand in the new science prize.
Zuckerberg, Forgotten Philanthropist (In A Hoodie)
From disheveled boardroom 20-something to amoral hacker, Zuckerberg’s image runs the gamut – and it isn’t always flattering. But in 2012, the Facebook founder ran up a tab as the second biggest philanthropist in the U.S., giving away 18 million shares of Facebook stock valued at $498.8 million to a health and education foundation in Silicon Valley.
Brin is no stranger to writing epic tax deductible checks – or to co-founding his own nonprofit. Beyond Google’s own active nonprofit arm, the quirky Google co-founder has donated millions to foundations ranging from fighting poverty in the Bay Area to Parkinson’s disease research.
For more on the prize, the Breakthrough Foundation’s site has the full list of its first prize recipients.
Photo by Taylor Hatmaker.