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UC researchers win new Breakthrough Prize

Two University of California scientists are among the first winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a new award recognizing advanced research.

Founding sponsors of the prize include Google co-founder Sergey Brin; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; Anne Wojcicki, founder of 23andMe; and Russian entrepreneur and philanthropist Yuri Milner.

Among the 11 honorees are Napoleone Ferrara, distinguished professor of pathology and senior deputy director for basic sciences at Moores Cancer Center, UC San Diego; and 2012 Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka, senior investigator at the UC San Francisco-affiliated Gladstone Institutes. Ferrara is recognized for research leading to therapies for cancer and eye diseases; Yamanaka is recognized for his work in induced pluripotent stem cells.

Each honoree will receive $3 million — more than twice the amount of the Nobel Prize. The prizes are intended to provide recipients "with more freedom and opportunity to pursue even greater future accomplishments."

"I am delighted to announce the launch of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and welcome its first recipients," said Art Levinson, chairman of the board of Apple and chairman of the board of the foundation overseeing the Breakthrough Prize. "I believe this new prize will shine a light on the extraordinary achievements of the outstanding minds in the field of life sciences, enhance medical innovation and ultimately become a platform for recognizing future discoveries."