Breakthrough Prize Winners and Institutions Commit $3 Million in Support of Next Generation of Scientists

Like most new Breakthrough Prize laureates, Cornelia Bargmann, Lewis Cantley and Charles Sawyers have each been asked what they intend to do with the $3 million prize. As it turns out, they have answered collectively.

The three scientists and their New York City-based institutions have teamed up to create a unique program aimed at investing in the next generation of promising researchers.

Bargmann of Rockefeller University, Cantley of Weill Cornell Medical College and Sawyers of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have committed a portion of their prizes to establish a new annual award for promising postdoctoral trainees. It is called the Tri-Institutional Breakout Awards for Junior Investigators.

“We want to recognize and encourage the rising stars in science,” Bargmann said. “With this prize for exceptional postdocs, we can highlight their talent, passion, and accomplishment and celebrate exciting discoveries in our community.”

Including financial commitments made by each of their respective institutions, the award will be sustained by a $3 million endowment.

“By establishing the Tri-Institutional Breakout Awards we hope to stimulate young scientists at the start of their careers,” Sawyers said. “I am grateful to the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation for raising the level of recognition for the life sciences community, and I hope that by creating an award for postdoctoral scholars, we can contribute to furthering that vision.”

The award will be given to three to six outstanding postdoctoral trainees every year, with each recipient receiving $25,000. One prize will be awarded to an applicant from each of the three founding institutions, and additional awards will be given to the best candidates, regardless of their institutional affiliation.

“The Tri-Institutional Breakout Awards are a unique and powerful statement of our institutions’ support for early-career investigators,” Cantley said. “They will encourage our trainees to pursue innovative work and reinforce their commitment to critical basic science research.” 

The inaugural winners will be announced by the end of 2014.