Eleven scientists will each pocket $3 million - almost triple the stipend accompanying the Nobel Prize - as the inaugural recipients of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, announced Wednesday by the Milner Foundation.

The winners are Cornelia I. Bargmann, David Botstein, Lewis C. Cantley, Hans Clevers, Napoleone Ferrara, Titia de Lange, Eric S. Lander, Charles L. Sawyers, Bert Vogelstein, Robert A. Weinberg and Shinya Yamanaka.

All the prizewinners agreed to be part of the foundation's selection committee to determine the winners in the coming years.

Starting in 2014, the work of 5 scientists will be recognized.

The moving force behind these prizes is Russian Yuri Milner, who created the Mail.ru Group in 1999 and is an investor in Internet companies.

The initiative also has the economic backing of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, as well as Google's Sergey Brin and his spouse, 23andMe creator Anne Wojcicki.

Art Levinson, who chairs the boards of Apple and Genentech, is chairman of the board of the prize foundation.

"Priscilla and I are honored to be part of this," Zuckerberg said. "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."

The aim of the foundation is to reward the talent of those who achieve revolutionary advances in the life sciences and to encourage this course of study at universities. EFE