In the wake of the Nobel prize selections, Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner in making a splash by offering an even larger prize for excellence in the field of medical research. A recent New York Times article discusses how Milner was able to raise the average award to around $3 Million dollars per prize by wooing Chinese e-commerce Mogul, Jack Ma to contribute to the prizes from his private fortune. Ma will be on the board of foundation officers for the prize, which is now being titled the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
The addition of Ma appears to have two goals. The first being an injection of prize money. Organizers feel they can encourage bolder and more important research by offering larger cash prizes. The second goal seems to be to internationalize the competition. Milner has said that the prize is open to researchers all over the world, but the majority of past winners have been American. The addition of Ma could help to promote the prizes in his native China, as well as Asia at large.
Perhaps the most poignant part of the article is Milner’s take on the current pay scale for scientists. He says that medical researchers are vastly underpaid considering the importance of the work they are doing. He goes on to say that 50 years ago, Albert Einstein was perhaps the most famous person in the United States, while in 2013, scientists rarely emerge as celebrities at all. One of the aims of the grants is to properly compensate scientists not only with money, but with notoriety. Even though Americans have largely been the winners of this particular prize, it is common knowledge that engineering, chemistry, and other science graduate are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. With more and more students opting for communications and humanities degrees, US graduates are falling behind in advanced science and medical education. Perhaps more grants like this that attempt to make science “cool” again will help to once again spark an American passion for Science and research.
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via Tyde Pavlinik Homepage http://tydepavlinik.com/new-medical-research-prize-offered-to-scientists/