Two Dutch scientists are among the 11 first-time winners of a new scientific prize founded by internet entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sergey Brin of Google together with venture capitalist Yuri Milner.
The winners of the first Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences will share $33m. It is the biggest prize ever to reward ‘excellence in research into curing diseases and extending human life’.
One of the two Dutch winners, Hans Clevers, is a professor of molecular genetics at the Hubrecht Institute and is known for his ground-breaking work in stem cell research and colon cancer, the Guardian reported.
Clevers told the British newspaper he had recovered since he was notified last week. ‘It’s sunk in a little bit. When I asked [foundation chairman Art Levinson] about the money he said it’s meant to make life easy.’
Clevers (55) said he would use some of the windfall to invite about 150 collaborators to a symposium in Amsterdam. ‘We’ll have a big party,’ he told the Guardian.
The other Dutch winner, Titia de Lange (57), who researches cell biology, genetics and cancer at Rockefeller university, said the award felt surreal. ‘I’m not used to having a lot of money. I don’t really have possessions,’ she told the paper.
The aim of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation is to advance breakthrough research, celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career, the foundation said in a statement.