Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Anne Wojcicki ’96: risk & reward

For $99, you can buy a “DNA Spit Kit” from 23andMe, the consumer-genetics company cofounded by Anne Wojcicki ’96. For $3 million, maybe you can help cure cancer.

At least that’s the goal of the new Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Wojcicki and her fellow funders—Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan; Google cofounder Sergey Brin, who is Wojcicki’s husband; and Russian IT gazillionaire Yuri Milner—announced the first 11 recipients on February 20.

“We are thrilled to support scientists who think big, take risks and have made a significant impact on our lives,” said Wojcicki, a biology major who also sits on the board of the new Breakthrough foundation. “These scientists should be household names and heroes in society.”

One recipient, Eric Lander of Harvard and MIT, calls the $3 million prize “a staggering amount of money for a scientist.”

“Their idea seems to be to grab society’s attention, to send a message that science is exciting, important, cool, our future,” he tells the New York Times. “It’s a very important message here in the US.”

Filed under Breakthrough Prize, Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe
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