“A market failure” is how Mark Zuckerberg describes the financial compensation most life scientists receive for their world changing endeavours. A failing that he and a few other big names from the technical elite aimed to put right with eleven mega cash prizes.
The Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize of $3 million was awarded to eleven recipients and a further five will be chosen annually as of 2014. In addition to rewarding the egg heads for the difference they’ve each individually made, the other objective is to raise more awareness about the significance of this noble career path in the hope that a greater proportion of the next generation choose that rather than the hollow callings so coveted by today’s generation; “Curing a disease should be worth more than a touchdown,” stated Sergey Brin.
The brains and wallets behind this initiative include Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, Google fo-founder, Sergey Brin, and Apple Chairman, Art Levinson; a striking trio given the apparent rivalry between these tech superpowers. On several occasions in the video Zuckerberg remarks on how the media love to overstate the supposed animosity between Facebook, Google and Apple, and how in reality they not only respect one another but enjoy opportunities to collaborate. Whether or not that’s true or just a media savvy response, the winners of the prize won’t care one bit; Cornelia Bargmann, neural circuits pioneer at the Rockefeller University, initially assumed it was all a practical joke, later commenting “The scale of this is so outsized I think it will have a huge impact on the life sciences”.
For more information on the prize and its inaugural winners visit the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Website.