Two AAAS members were among a group of outstanding researchers recently awarded $3 million each in this year's \Breakthrough Prize, given to scientists who are making fundamental discoveries about the universe, life and the mind. Helen Hobbs and Svante Pääbo were recipients of the Life Sciences award, which honors \"transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.\"
"By challenging conventional thinking and expanding knowledge over the long term, scientists can solve the biggest problems of our time," said Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who is one of the donors. "The Breakthrough Prize honors achievements in science and math so we can encourage more pioneering research and celebrate scientists as the heroes they truly are."
Hobbs is a an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Her work focuses on defining the genetic determinants of plasma lipoprotein levels and cardiovascular risk. Most recently, she has identified genetic variations that counter susceptibility to fatty liver disease. Pääbo is Director of the Max Planck Institute's Department of Evolutionary Biology. He specializes in evolutionary genetics and is one of the founders of paleogenetics, having worked extensively on the Neanderthal genome.
Here is a look at all of the 2015 winners:
2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (five prizes, $3 million each): Edward S. Boyden (MIT); Karl Deisseroth (Stanford University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute); John Hardy (University College London); Helen Hobbs (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute); and Svante Pääbo (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology).
2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics ($3 million) was awarded to five experiments investigating neutrino oscillation and will be shared equally among all five: Daya Bay (China); KamLAND (Japan); K2K / T2K (Japan); Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (Canada); and Super-Kamiokande (Japan). The award was accepted by team leaders Yifang Wang and Kam-Biu Luk (Daya Bay); Atsuto Suzuki (KamLAND); Koichiro Nishikawa (K2K / T2K); Arthur B. McDonald (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory); and Takaaki Kajita and Yoichiro Suzuki (Super-Kamiokande)
2016 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics ($3 million): Ian Agol (University of California at Berkeley and Institute for Advanced Study).
Breakthrough Junior Challenge (a $250,000 educational scholarship): Ryan Chester, of North Royalton, Ohio, for his winning video depiction of Einstein's theory of special relativity.
In addition, five New Horizons prizes—a $100,000 award that recognizes the achievements of young scientists—were given to eight early-career physicists and mathematicians.
New Horizons in Physics Prizes were awarded to B. Andrei Bernevig (Princeton University), Liang Fu (MIT), and Xiao-Liang Qi (Stanford University) as one prize; Raphael Flauger (University of Texas at Austin) and Leonardo Senatore (Stanford University) as a second prize; and Yuji Tachikawa (University of Tokyo) as a third prize.
New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes were awarded to Larry Guth (MIT); and André Arroja Neves (Imperial College London). A third New Horizons in Mathematics Prize, recognizing Peter Scholze of Bonn University, was declined.
A combined total of $21.9 million was awarded.
The prize was founded in 2013 by a group of Silicon Valley donors: Google's Sergey Brin and wife Anne Wojcicki; Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan; Entrepreneur Yuri Milner and wife Julia Milner; and business magnate and philanthropist Jack Ma and wife Cathy Zhang.
Congratulations to all of this year's winners!