The Breakthrough Prize Foundation and its sponsors – Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner and Anne Wojcicki – have announced today the recipients of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize, awarding a collective total of $22 million to nine researchers for important achievements in the Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics.
The 2019 Breakthrough Prize and New Horizon Prize recipients will be recognized at the seventh annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony, known as the “Oscars of Science,” hosted by acclaimed actor, producer and philanthropist Pierce Brosnan, on November 4, at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and broadcast live on National Geographic.
Considered the world’s most generous science prize, each Breakthrough Prize is for $3 million. Now in its seventh year, the Prize recognizes achievements in the Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics, the disciplines that ask the biggest questions and find the deepest explanations.
2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Awarded to C. Frank Bennett and Adrian R. Krainer, Angelika Amon, Xiaowei Zhuang, and Zhijian “James” Chen
2019 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Awarded to Charles Kane and Eugene Mele
2019 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics Awarded to Vincent Lafforgue
Six “New Horizons” Prizes Worth $600,000 Awarded for Early-Career Achievement in Physics and Math awarded
The discoveries recognized this year include:
• In the Life Sciences, a spectacularly successful gene therapy drug, Spinraza, that treats Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a deadly infant disease;
• A super-resolution imaging technology that transcends traditional light microscopy revealing entirely new internal structures of cells;
• The revelation of a mechanism by which cells detect foreign DNA and trigger immune response, with implications for cancer and autoimmune diseases;
• And, insight into how abnormal numbers of chromosomes are implicated in almost all cancers and can otherwise wreak havoc in the human body.
• In Fundamental Physics, mind-bending theoretical advances including the discovery of a new class of electronic materials that simultaneously conduct and resist electricity and could prove transformative for quantum computing.
• And in Mathematics, for elegant and groundbreaking contributions to the Langlands program in the function field case.
In addition to the seven main-stage prizes, a total of six New Horizons Prizes, worth $100,000 each, were awarded to seven physicists and five mathematicians for early-career achievements in their respective fields.
In September, an additional Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was announced, recognizing British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell for her role in the surprise discovery of pulsars – an exotic new type of star – first announced in February 1968, and for her inspiring scientific leadership over the last five decades.