Recipients Of The 2015 Breakthrough Prizes In Fundamental Physics And Life Sciences Announced

$36 Million in prizes to world’s top scientists handed out by founders Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan at a Silicon Valley gala hosted by Seth MacFarlane and attended by celebrity guests.

Moffett Field, CA, November 9, 2014 – The Breakthrough Prize Foundation tonight announced the recipients of the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics and Life Sciences. These distinguished winners, along with previously announced recipients in the Mathematics category, each receive a $3 million prize.

The 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences recognize C. David Allis, Victor Ambros, Alim Louis Benabid, Gary Ruvkun, Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier.

The 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics is a shared honor with Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt, and Adam Riess leading a collaboration of 51 total prize recipients splitting the $3 million.

The previously announced 2015 Breakthrough Prize winners in Mathematics who were also honored at the ceremony are Simon Donaldson, Maxim Kontsevich, Jacob Lurie, Terence Tao and Richard Taylor.

“This year’s life sciences laureates have made some spectacular discoveries, from a new kind of gene to a Parkinson’s treatment that has improved the lives of many,” Anne Wojcicki said. “It’s energizing to be in the company of such brilliant and fertile minds.”

The awards were presented at an exclusive Gala co-hosted by founders Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Yuri and Julia Milner, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter at NASA's Ames Research Center. Seth MacFarlane hosted The 2nd Annual Breakthrough Prize Ceremony which also featured Kate Beckinsale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Diaz, Jon Hamm and Eddie Redmayne as presenters.

"The world faces many fundamental challenges today, and there are many amazing scientists, researchers and engineers helping us solve them,” Mark Zuckerberg said. “This year's Breakthrough Prize winners have made discoveries that will help cure disease and move the world forward. They deserve to be recognized as heroes."

The ceremony was produced and directed by Emmy Award-winning Don Mischer Productions and will be simulcast in the United States on Discovery Channel and Science Channel on November 15 at 6 PM ET/PT, and televised globally the weekend of November 22 on BBC World News.

“Most of our time is spent on mundane matters,” Yuri Milner said. “Tonight we thought about the molecules of life, the structure of prime numbers, and the fate of the Universe. It was an uplifting occasion for everyone.”

"The remarkable scientists we honor refuse to accept ‘conventional wisdom’ as we know it,” Jack Ma said. “They question everything. They venture into new worlds."

The Breakthrough Prize Symposium takes place the day following the ceremony, November 10, at Stanford University and is co-sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to the agenda featuring talks from leading scientists and Breakthrough Prize winners, seven more awards will be handed out by the foundation in a category for junior researchers in physics, the $100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prize.

Details On All 2015 Breakthrough Prize Foundation Laureates

The 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences honors transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life, with one prize dedicated to work that contributes to the understanding of Parkinson’s disease.

Alim Louis Benabid, Joseph Fourier University, for the discovery and pioneering work on the development of high-frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS), which has revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

C. David Allis, The Rockefeller University, for the discovery of covalent modifications of histone proteins and their critical roles in the regulation of gene expression and chromatin organization, advancing the understanding of diseases ranging from birth defects to cancer.

Victor Ambros, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Gary Ruvkun, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, for the discovery of a new world of genetic regulation by microRNAs, a class of tiny RNA molecules that inhibit translation or destabilize complementary mRNA targets. Each received a $3 million award.

Jennifer Doudna, University of California, Berkeley, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research and Umeå University, for harnessing an ancient mechanism of bacterial immunity into a powerful and general technology for editing genomes, with wide-ranging implications across biology and medicine. Each received a $3 million award.

The 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Mathematics

The inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics honors five of the world’s best mathematicians who have contributed to major advances in the field.

Simon Donaldson, Stony Brook University and Imperial College London, for the new revolutionary invariants of 4-dimensional manifolds and for the study of the relation between stability in algebraic geometry and in global differential geometry, both for bundles and for Fano varieties.

Maxim Kontsevich, Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, for work making a deep impact in a vast variety of mathematical disciplines, including algebraic geometry, deformation theory, symplectic topology, homological algebra and dynamical systems.

Jacob Lurie, Harvard University, for his work on the foundations of higher category theory and derived algebraic geometry; for the classification of fully extended topological quantum field theories; and for providing a moduli-theoretic interpretation of elliptic cohomology.

Terence Tao, University of California, Los Angeles, for numerous breakthrough contributions to harmonic analysis, combinatorics, partial differential equations and analytic number theory.

Richard Taylor, Institute for Advanced Study, for numerous breakthrough results in the theory of automorphic forms, including the Taniyama-Weil conjecture, the local Langlands conjecture for general linear groups, and the Sato-Tate conjecture.

The 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the Universe.

Saul Perlmutter, University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and members of the Supernova Cosmology Project; Brian P. Schmidt, Australian National University, Adam Riess, Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute, and members of the High-Z Supernova Team.

Citation: For the most unexpected discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing as had been long assumed.

Supernova Cosmology Project Team Breakthrough Prize winners: Greg Aldering, Brian J. Boyle, Patricia G. Castro, Warrick J. Couch, Susana Deustua, Richard S. Ellis, Sebastien Fabbro, Alexei V. Filippenko, Andrew S. Fruchter, Ariel Goobar, Donald E. Groom, Isobel M. Hook, Mike Irwin, Alex G. Kim, Matthew Y. Kim, Robert A. Knop, Julia C. Lee, Chris Lidman, Thomas Matheson, Richard G. McMahon, Richard Muller, Heidi J. M. Newberg, Peter Nugent, Nelson J. Nunes, Reynald Pain, Nino Panagia, Carl R. Pennypacker, Robert Quimby, Pilar Ruiz-Lapuente, Bradley E. Schaefer and Nicholas Walton.

High-Z Supernova Search Team Breakthrough Prize winners: Peter Challis, Alejandro Clocchiatti, Alan Diercks, Alexei V. Filippenko, Peter M. Garnavich, Ron L. Gilliland, Craig J. Hogan, Saurabh Jha, Robert P. Kirshner, Bruno Leibundgut, Mark M. Phillips, David Reiss, R. Chris Smith, Jason Spyromilio, Christopher Stubbs, Nicholas B. Suntzeff and John Tonry.

The 2015 New Horizons in Physics Prizes

Sean Hartnoll, Stanford University, for applying holographic methods to obtain remarkable new insights into strongly interacting quantum matter.

Philip C. Schuster and Natalia Toro, Perimeter Institute, for pioneering the “simplified models” framework for new physics searches at the Large Hadron Collider, as well as spearheading new experimental searches for dark sectors using high-intensity electron beams.

Horacio Casini and Marina Huerta, CONICET and Instituto Balseiro, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Shinsei Ryu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Tadashi Takayanagi, Kyoto University, for fundamental ideas about entropy in quantum field theory and quantum gravity.

About The Breakthrough Prizes

The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. The prizes aim to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. Breakthrough Prizes are funded by a grant from Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki's foundation, The Brin Wojcicki Foundation; a grant from Mark Zuckerberg’s fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation; a grant from Jack Ma Foundation; and a grant from Milner Foundation. Laureates of all prizes are chosen by Selection Committees, which are comprised of prior recipients of the prizes.

Laureates of each prize are chosen by its respective Selection Committee, comprised of previous recipients of the prize.

The Selection Committee for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the New Horizons in Physics Prize included: Nima Arkani-Hamed, Lyn Evans, Fabiola Gianotti, Michael B. Green, Alan Guth, Stephen Hawking, Alexei Kitaev, Maxim Kontsevich, Joseph Incandela, Juan Maldacena, Alexander Polyakov, Nathan Seiberg, Ashoke Sen, John H. Schwarz and Edward Witten.

The Selection Committee for the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences included: James P. Allison, Cornelia I. Bargmann, David Botstein, Lewis C. Cantley, Hans Clevers, Titia de Lange, Mahlon R. DeLong, Napoleone Ferrara, Michael N. Hall, Eric S. Lander, Robert Langer, Richard P. Lifton, Charles L. Sawyers, Alexander Varshavsky, Bert Vogelstein, Robert A. Weinberg and Shinya Yamanaka.

For more information on the Breakthrough Prizes:

CONTACTS: Rubenstein Communications

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