Breakthrough 2023 prices are announced; $15.75 million awarded to the winners

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The Breakthrough Prize Foundation has announced the winners of the 2023 awards, recognizing scientists in three categories – fundamental physics, mathematics and life sciences – with the world’s most lucrative cash prizes for achievements in science.

The awards, dubbed the “Oscars of Science,” worth $3 million each, were founded by Sergey Brin; Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg; Julia and Yuri Milner; and Anne Wojcicki, who have financially supported the foundation and its awards since their inception more than a decade ago.

The winners of the awards are known as “Laureates” and as part of their recognition they attend an awards ceremony to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists. They also participate in a program of lectures and discussions and sit on selection committees to choose subsequent laureates.

Three Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences 2023 have been awarded to:

  • Clifford P. Brangwynne, Princeton University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Marine Biological Laboratory; and Anthony A. HymanMax Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics for their discovery of “a fundamental mechanism of cellular organization mediated by phase separation of proteins and RNA in membraneless liquid droplets.”
  • Demis Hassabis and John Jumper, Deep Mind; for “developing a deep learning AI method that quickly and accurately predicts the three-dimensional structure of proteins based on their amino acid sequence.”
  • Emmanuel MignotStanford University School of Medicine and Masashi Yanagisawa, University of Tsukuba; for “the discovery that narcolepsy is caused by the loss of a small population of brain cells that make an awakening-promoting substance, paving the way for the development of new treatments for sleep disorders.”

The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was shared by four individuals for fundamental work in quantum information:

  • Charles H. BennettIBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center
  • Gilles BrassardUniversity of Montreal
  • David DeutschOxford University
  • Peter W. ShoroMIT

The Mathematics Breakthrough Prize 2023 has been awarded to:

  • Daniel A. SpielmanYale University for “contributions to theoretical computer science and mathematics, including to spectral graph theory, the Kadison-Singer problem, numerical linear algebra, optimization, and coding theory.”

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In addition to the top prizes, six New Horizons awards, each worth $100,000, shared by 11 budding scientists and mathematicians, were selected for having an early, but substantial, impact on their fields.

And three Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prizes, worth $50,000 each, were awarded to female mathematicians who recently completed their PhDs and achieved significant achievements.

Three New Horizons in Physics 2023 awards have been won by:

David Simmons-DuffinCalifornia Institute of Technology

Anna GrassellinoFermilab

Six scientists, who shared a New Horizons prize for their development of optical tweezers for use in quantum information science, metrology and molecular physics.

  • Hannes Bernien University of Chicago
  • Manuel EndresCaltech
  • Adam M. KaufmanJILA, National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Colorado
  • Kang-Kuen NiHarvard University
  • Hannes PichlerUniversity of Innsbruck and Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Jeff ThompsonPrinceton University

Three New Horizons in Mathematics awards for 2023 have been awarded to:

  • Ana CaraianiImperial College London and University of Bonn;
  • Ronen EldanWeizmann Institute of Science and Microsoft Research;
  • James MaynardOxford University and Institute for Advanced Study.

The Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Awards for 2023 have been awarded to:

  • Maggie MillerStanford University and Clay Mathematics Institute (PhD Princeton University 2020);
  • Jinyoung ParkStanford University (PhD Rutgers University 2020);
  • Vera TraubUniversity of Bonn (PhD University of Bonn 2020).

The founders of the Breakthrough Prize commended this year’s winners for their outstanding contributions to basic science. “Congratulations to all of the Breakthrough Prize winners, whose incredible discoveries will pave the way for scientific discovery and drive innovation,” said Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, co-founders and co-CEOs of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “These laureates and budding scientists are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in research and science, and we are excited to honor their achievements.”

“Breakthroughs in neurodegenerative diseases, quantum computing, AI-solving protein structure and more…” said Sergey Brin, “These are incredible advances that deserve to be celebrated.”

“The laureates honored today embody the remarkable power of basic science,” said Yuri Milner, “both to reveal deep truths about the Universe and to improve human lives.”

“The 2023 laureates have produced absolutely amazing science,” said Anne Wojcicki. “The creativity, ingenuity and sheer perseverance that have gone into this work is awe-inspiring.”

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