Alibaba’s Jack Ma joins tech titans in supporting life sciences prize

Earlier this year, some of the biggest stars in Silicon Valley, including Google (s GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook (s FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and investor Yuri Milner, announced a new prize recognizing achievement in life sciences research. This week, another tech luminary joined the group.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his wife Cathy Zhang are the latest supporters of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, which awards $3 million prizes to medical researchers at the top of their fields. With Ma’s support, the prize will now be awarded annually to six medical scientists working on some of the world’s most intractable diseases.

In announcing the prize in February, Zuckerberg said the point of the award was to recognize current researchers, as well as inspire future researchers.

“I think that our society needs more heroes who are scientists and researchers and engineers. You guys are doing all of the amazing work and the thing that we can do from the sidelines is build institutions that celebrate and reward and recognize all of the real work,” he said.

The prize’s other backers include Apple (s AAPL) Chairman Art Levinson (who is also the head of Google’s new life sciences startup Calico), 23andMe co-founder (and wife of Brin) Anne Wojcicki and Zuckerberg’s wife Priscilla Chan.