Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, 2012's second-most generous donors, are lending their considerable social-network fortune to help extend human life.
The newlywed couple joins Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki, along with famed venture capitalist Yuri Milner, as founding sponsors of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a substantial $3 million financial reward that will be doled out annually to ambitious scientists working to cure complex diseases.
"Our society needs more heroes who are scientists, researchers, and engineers," Facebook's chief executive wrote in a status update this morning. "We need to celebrate and reward the people who cure diseases, expand our understanding of humanity, and work to improve people's lives."
Going forward, Zuckerberg and the philanthropic bunch have collectively agreed to establish five annual prizes, which will be administered by the nonprofit Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation.
"At $3 million per prize, it's the largest prize for this work in the world," Zuckerberg said. "I'm hopeful this serves as a blueprint for prizes and philanthropy in other fields as well."