Xiaowei Zhuang

Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

For discovering hidden structures in cells by developing super-resolution imaging – a method that transcends the fundamental spatial resolution limit of light microscopy.


I love doing science because it brings me tremendous joy, and because it makes a positive impact on hu-manity. I am deeply grateful to my mentors, Steve Chu (my postdoctoral advisor at Stanford) and Yuen-Ron Shen (my PhD advisor at Berkeley), who inspired me and shaped me into the scientist I am today, and my college teachers at USTC who got me interested in science. I feel privileged to mentor my own postdocs and students – working with these young talented scientists over the past 17 years has been the most rewarding experience I have had. Special thanks to my wonderful collaborators, in particular Titia de Lange, Catherine Dulac, Tom Südhof, David Clapham, Stephen Benkovic, Ron Vale, Robert Singer, and Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who introduced their beautiful biological systems to me and with whom I have had the good fortune to partner and make exciting biological discoveries using the imaging methods developed in my laboratory. I also want to thank my wonderful colleagues, Charlie Lieber, Sunney Xie, and many others, whose long-lasting friendship I treasure. I am very grateful to HHMI, NIH and Harvard for supporting our research. Last but not least, I would like to thank my family, my loving husband and beautiful daughter, who give me daily joy, and my parents and my brother, whose unwavering support and faith in me shaped my confidence in my formative years.

Xiaowei Zhuang

Ceremony Acceptance Video

Breakthrough Prize Symposium Talks

Breakthrough Prize Interviews