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Tech luminaries at Facebook and Google bankroll medical breakthrough prizes

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Technology luminaries Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, have teamed up to reward some of the most eminent biologists for their contribution to life sciences and handing out $33m to eleven life-changing projects.

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences award is the brain child of Russian venture capitalist Yuri Miller, who established a similar prize fund for breakthroughs in physics. It awarded $3m to eminent British scientist Stephen Hawkings, as part of its prize giveaway last year.

Miller has also persuaded Apple chairman Art Levinson, along with Brin and Zuckerberg's wives, to set up the prize fund that seeks to recognise excellence in research into curing intractable diseases and breakthroughs in extending human life.

Of course Brin and Zuckerberg aren't the only technology high fliers to take a keen interest in life prolonging technology – and given that Brin is married to Anne Wojcicki, founder of personal genomics firm 23andMe, his interest in cutting-edge biology is perhaps more understandable than some.

Famously, Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison established The Ellison Medical Foundation, a non-profit organisation focused disease prevention for the elderly – or Larry Ellison's quest for eternal youth, as some unkind souls have termed it.

But if you'd amassed a vast wealth and were enjoying trying to change the world, you'd probably have reason to ponder your own mortality and try and find cures for anything that could cut you down too soon.

21 Feb 2013

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