Inaugural Winners of Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Announced

Inaugural Winners of Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Announced

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation has announced the inaugural recipients of the Breakthrough Prize, which recognizes excellence in research aimed at finding cures for intractable diseases and extending human life.

The eleven scientists will each receive $3 million — more than twice the amount awarded with a Nobel Prize — for their groundbreaking work in the life sciences. All eleven have also agreed to serve on the committee that will choose future recipients. Sponsored by Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife, 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki; Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan; and Yuri Milner, a Russian-born theoretical physicist and Internet entrepreneur, the Breakthrough Prize will be awarded to five researchers annually. Candidates can be nominated for consideration online and are eligible to receive the prize more than once.

The inaugural recipients are Cornelia I. Bargmann of Rockefeller University, who was recognized for her work on the genetics of neural circuits and behavior and synaptic guidepost molecules; David Botstein of Princeton University, who was recognized for his work on linkage mapping of Mendelian disease in humans using DNA polymorphisms; Lewis C. Cantley of Weill Cornell Medical College, who was recognized for the discovery of PI 3-Kinase and its role in cancer metabolism; Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute, who was recognized for describing the role of Wnt signaling in tissue stem cells and cancer; Napoleone Ferrara of the University of California, San Diego, who was recognized for discoveries in angiogenesis that led to therapies for cancer and eye diseases; Titia de Lange of Rockefeller University, who was recognized for her research on how telomeres protect chromosome ends and their role in genome instability in cancer; Eric S. Lander of the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who was recognized for his work in identifying human disease genes and their application to medicine through human genome mapping; Charles L. Sawyers of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who was recognized for his work on cancer genes and targeted therapy; Bert Vogelstein of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, who was recognized for his work on cancer genomics and tumor suppressor genes; Robert A. Weinberg of MIT, who was recognized for his work on the characterization of human cancer genes; and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and the Gladstone Institutes, who was recognized for his research on induced pluripotent stem cells.

"I believe this new prize will shine a light on the extraordinary achievements of the outstanding minds in the field of life sciences, enhance medical innovation, and ultimately become a platform for recognizing future discoveries," said Arthur D. Levinson, board chair of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation.

"We are thrilled to support scientists who think big, take risks, and have made a significant impact on our lives," said Wojcicki. "These scientists should be household names and heroes in society."