02/20/2013 02:33 pm ET Updated Feb 20, 2013

Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Other Tech Moguls Launch 'Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation'

Mark Zuckerberg nailed the no. 1 charitable spot in Silicon Valley last year and has kicked off 2013 by joining a number of tech moguls in giving away the biggest prize in the history of science.

The Facebook founder, along with Google’s Sergey Brin and venture capitalist Yuri Milner, announced the launch of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences on Wednesday. The organization will reward an unprecedented amount of prize money to researchers making advances in curing intractable diseases and extending human life, the Guardian reported.

The organization doled out a total of $33 million through its foundation to 11 winners making huge strides in disease research, according to a press release.

“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,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.

One of the winners included Hans Clevers, 55, a professor of molecular genetics at Hubrecht Institute. He was recognized for the breakthroughs he’s made in stem cell research and cancer, according to the organization’s website.

Clevers told the Guardian that the $3 million prize is meant to “make life easy.”

One of the Breakthrough Prize’s goals is to make the selection process as transparent as possible and will do so by including past winners on future selection committees, according to the organization. Anyone will be able to nominate a candidate, there are no age restrictions and prizes can be shared among a number of deserving scientists participating in a research project.

As Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley titans continue to apply their approach to building businesses to their charitable efforts, a new wave of giving is beginning to emerge, as some experts have predicted.

"There is sort of a new breed of philanthropists coming into the field," Bradford Smith, president of the Foundation Center, told the AP. "There I think you're seeing a really interesting sort of confluence of almost kind of a venture, risk-taking approach and technology as an instrument for social change."



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