Names of 2014 Breakthrough Prize winners in Fundamental Physics and Life Sciences unveiled

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The names of the 2014 Breakthrough Prize winners in Fundamental Physics and Life Sciences were unveiled at an exclusive ceremony at the NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA. At a total awarded amount of $21 million, sponsored by Sergey Brin & Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma & Cathy Zhang, Yuri & Julia Milner and Mark Zuckerberg & Priscilla Chan, the prizes aim to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career.

The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes transformative achievements in the field of fundamental physics, with a special focus on recent developments. The 2014 winners are:

  • Michael B. Green, University of Cambridge, and John H. Schwarz, California Institute of Technology,for opening new perspectives on quantum gravity and the unification of forces.

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences recognizes excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life. The 2014 recipients are:

  • James Allison, MD Anderson Cancer Center for the discovery of T cell checkpoint blockade as effective cancer therapy.
  • Mahlon DeLong, Emory University for defining the interlocking circuits in the brain that malfunction in Parkinson's disease. This scientific foundation underlies the circuit-based treatment of Parkinson's disease by deep brain stimulation.
  • Michael Hall, University of Basel for the discovery of Target of Rapamycin (TOR) and its role in cell growth control.
  • Robert Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for discoveries leading to the development of controlled drug-release systems and new biomaterials.
  • Richard Lifton, Yale University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the discovery of genes and biochemical mechanisms that cause hypertension.
  • Alexander Varshavsky, California Institute of Technology for discovering critical molecular determinants and biological functions of intracellular protein degradation.

"Scientists should be celebrated as heroes, and we are honored to be part of today's celebration of the newest winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the Fundamental Physics Prize," said Anne Wojcicki and Sergey Brin.

The prize ceremony was hosted by actor Kevin Spacey, and awards were presented by the Prize sponsors and by celebrities including Conan O'Brien, Glenn Close, Rob Lowe and Michael C. Hall. The event was organized in cooperation with Vanity Fair and produced and directed by Don Mischer, the producer and director of the Academy Awards, among other television and live events. Grammy-nominated singer Lana Del Ray performed live for the guests of the ceremony.

The event will be televised by the Science Channel, one of the Discovery networks; it will be broadcast at 9pm on January 27th.

At the end of the ceremony, Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner announced the launch of a new $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The details of the new prize will be announced at a later date.

"The Breakthrough Prize is our effort to put the spotlight on these amazing heroes. Their work in physics and genetics, cosmology, neurology and mathematics will change lives for generations and we are excited to celebrate them," commented Mark Zuckerberg.

Yuri Milner said: "Einstein said, Pure mathematics is the poetry of logical ideas. It is in this spirit that Mark and myself are announcing a new Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The work that the Prize recognizes could be the foundation for genetic engineering, quantum computing or Artificial Intelligence; but above all, for human knowledge itself."

This commitment to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge is not limited to the Prize ceremony. On December 13, there will be two Breakthrough Prize Symposiums: at Stanford, on the Future of Fundamental Science; and at the University of California, San Francisco, on the Future of the Biological Sciences. Winners of the Breakthrough Prize from 2012, 2013 and 2014 will give lectures and take part in panel discussions before an invited audience.

Art Levinson, the chairman of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, said: "We are honored to recognize such an outstanding group of scientists as this year's Breakthrough Prize Laureates. We are sure they will continue to push back the boundaries of knowledge in the years to come."

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