Joanne Chory

Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2018 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

For discovering how plants optimize their growth, development, and cellular structure to transform sunlight into chemical energy.


I dedicate this prize to all who have shaped the scientist that I’ve become. I want to thank the many postdocs and students (both graduate and undergraduate) who did the work. I am so proud to have contributed to your scientific training. We were motivated by the fabulous science of our Salk colleagues and the fast pace of growth of the Arabidopsis community. To my long-term collaborators, Detlef Weigel, Steve Kay, and Joe Noel: Our science was better because of you. I want to thank my mentors, especially Sam Kaplan, my PhD advisor, who taught me the scientific method; my postdoc advisor, Fred Ausubel, from whom I learned genetics and the value of a good model; the late Chris Lamb, who guided me through my early days at the Salk; and Tom Cech, Jack Dixon, and Bob Tjian, who advocated for HHMI’s support of plant science. Special thanks to my parents for their unconditional love and support, and my five siblings for helping me to cultivate the thick skin required to be a successful scientist. For the past 33 years, my husband, Stephen Worland, has expected nothing but the best from me. Hopefully, I didn’t let him down! And, finally, my children, Katie and Joe: Thank you for making me laugh. You provided balance to my life and made me a better person.

Joanne Chory

Ceremony Acceptance Video

Breakthrough Prize Symposium Talks