Five Winners Receive Inaugural Breakthrough Prize In Mathematics

Art Levinson Steps Down as Chair of Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, Succeeded by Cori Bargmann.

Online Nominations For 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics and Life Sciences are Open Through June 30, 2014.

June 23, 2014 (San Francisco) – The Breakthrough Prize Foundation announces five winners of the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics:

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 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics was launched by Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony last December. It aims to recognize major advances in the field, honor the world’s best mathematicians, support their future endeavors and communicate the excitement of mathematics to general public.

The laureates will be presented with their trophies and $3 million each at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony in November.

All five recipients of the Prize have agreed to serve on the Selection Committee, responsible for choosing subsequent winners of the prize from the pool of contenders nominated by the mathematics community. From 2015 onwards, one Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics will be awarded every year.

Mark Zuckerberg said: “Mathematics is essential for driving human progress and innovation in this century. This year’s Breakthrough Prize winners have made huge contributions to the field and we’re excited to celebrate their efforts.”

Yuri Milner commented: “Mathematics is the most fundamental of the sciences – the language they are all written in. The best mathematical minds benefit us all by expanding the sphere of human knowledge.”

Online Nominations

Online nominations are now open for the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences and Fundamental Physics, and can be submitted until June 30. The nomination form and the rules are available at

Any individual can submit an online nomination but self-nominations are not allowed.

Each year, up to six Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences are awarded. The prize honors transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life. One prize per year is for work contributing to the understanding of Parkinson’s disease. Each laureate receives $3 million.

The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the Universe. The winner receives $3 million, and the prize can be split between several scientists.

Art Levinson steps down as Chairman of Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, succeeded by Cori Bargmann

Art Levinson has announced his retirement from the chairmanship of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation Board. Levinson, who has steered the Foundation from its inception in 2013, is stepping down due to the time requirements of his work as CEO of Calico. He will be succeeded by Cori Bargmann, a leading neurobiologist at Rockefeller University and one of the inaugural winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

Art Levinson remarked: “It’s been a real privilege, as well as a lot of fun, to help get the Breakthrough Prize up and running. The prize has already surpassed our expectations, and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop as it continues its vital work bringing the workings of life and the fight against disease to the forefront of public consciousness.”

Cori Bargmann said: “I’m honored to have the chance to chair the Foundation - especially to take over from Art, who’s been inspirational. Thanks in no small part to him, the Breakthrough Prize has become a significant landmark in the world of science. If you think someone in your field deserves it, I’d encourage you to submit an online nomination now.”

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.

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

The Selection Committee for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics includes:

  • Nima Arkani-Hamed
  • Lyn Evans
  • Fabiola Gianotti
  • Michael B. Green
  • Alan Guth
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Joseph Incandela
  • Alexei Kitaev
  • Maxim Kontsevich
  • Andrei Linde
  • Juan Maldacena
  • Alexander Polyakov
  • Nathan Seiberg
  • Ashoke Sen
  • John H. Schwarz
  • Edward Witten

The Selection Committee for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences includes:

  • 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
  • Shinya Yamanaka

Additional information on the Breakthrough Prizes is available at

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