By Kurt Wagner, reporter
FORTUNE -- Top decision-makers from Apple, Google, and Facebook were in agreement Wednesday afternoon: They want us all the live longer.
Some of Silicon Valley's most influential minds -- including Facebook (FB) founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google (GOOG) founder Sergey Brin -- announced a new award that will honor research aimed at major health advancements, including "curing intractable diseases and extending human life," according to the prize description. The award's founders were on hand at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine to present 11 inaugural recipients with the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The new honor, known simply as the "Breakthrough Prize," will be awarded annually to five recipients. It comes with a $3 million prize.
At Wednesday's announcement, Zuckerberg and Brin were joined by the award's other founders: Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of personal genetics company 23andMe and Brin's wife; Yuri Milner, founder of European Internet company Mail.ru; and Arthur D. Levinson, chairman of both Apple (AAPL) and Genentech, who will also chair the new foundation. Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg's wife and a med-school graduate from UCSF, is also a co-founder.>
The prize is meant to encourage and reward scientists and medical professionals who are oftentimes overlooked, says Zuckerberg, who donated $500 million in Facebook shares to charity last December. Wojcicki, whose passion came out as she spoke into the microphone, added that she hopes this prize inspires medical professionals to continue changing the world. "Health care is filled with really, really wonderful people trying to make a difference," she said. "And they do that without seeking fame and money."
Future award recipients will be selected by previous winners, starting with this year's inaugural group. As of now, there are no plans to expand the team of sponsors by adding other top CEOs. However, an expansion in the number of sponsors and amount of prize money is expected sometime in the future, according to Milner. One prize each year will go toward research aimed at curing Parkinson's Disease, a personal pursuit for Brin who has the Parkinson's gene. Brin has donated well over $100 million to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research since discovering he had the gene himself in 2008. The other four awards have not yet been tied to a specific disease.
As students from the UCSF School of Medicine looked down from the second and third floors of the atrium, the prize founders routinely addressed the future generation of medical professionals. "A lot of this isn't really about you guys here today," said Zuckerberg, in his signature black hoodie. "I think a lot of what we're doing here is about the next generations."
With new top-line investors and a partnership with GE, General Assembly -- a new kind of urban networking campus -- is set to grow fast.
By Alex Konrad, reporter
FORTUNE -- General Assembly, which provides workspace and training for budding, high-tech entrepreneurs in New York City, has just attracted an all-star list of investors: Howard Schultz's Maveron fund, Yuri Milner of DST Global, and Jeff Bezos's Bezos Expeditions. What do they see MORESep 7, 2011 5:00 AM ET
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* The Wall Street Journal reports that the next iPhone will indeed be thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4, but also reports that another, cheaper iPhone is in the works as well. Meanwhile next year, another iPhone model will supposedly feature "new ways of charging the phone." We MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jul 8, 2011 3:55 AM ET
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Facebook relaunched its Questions feature which looks more like a poll app. But instead of going the Quora route -- asking a question to receive lengthy user answers -- Questions just has users voting or offering up short, pithy answers of MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Mar 25, 2011 5:00 AM ET
DST's Yuri Milner makes big bets on social media companies and brings new clout -- along with a mysterious oligarch backer -- to Silicon Valley.
Yuri Milner has 50 friends on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is one of them. They met a couple of years ago when Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder and CEO, was trying to learn more about a Russian social network that Milner partly owned. Then, in the spring of MOREJessi Hempel, writer - Oct 4, 2010 3:00 AM ET
By Bill Powell and Jessi Hempel
Alisher Usmanov is one of Vladimir Putin's "oligarchs," as the businessmen in Moscow with deep ties to the Kremlin have come to be called. That he is one of Putin's oligarchs is to say that he was not one of Boris Yeltsin's. In the early 1990s, Yeltsin's disciples got hugely rich buying formerly state-owned enterprises in Russia on the cheap. Usmanov was virtually unknown at MOREScott Olster, editor - Oct 4, 2010 3:00 AM ET
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