Eight scientists will receive a total of $21 million for their groundbreaking work in the fields of fundamental physics and the life sciences. 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 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 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, which recognizes transformative achievements in that field, was awarded to Michael B. Green of the University of Cambridge and John H. Schwarz of the California Institute of Technology for their groundbreaking work on quantum gravity and the unification of forces. Green and Schwarz will share the $3 million prize.
The six recipients of the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which recognizes excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life, are James Allison of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, who was recognized for his discovery of the T cell checkpoint blockade as an effective cancer therapy; Mahlon DeLong of Emory University, for his work on defining the interlocking circuits in the brain that malfunction in Parkinson's disease; Michael Hall of the University of Basel, for the discovery of Target of Rapamycin and its role in cell growth control; Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for discoveries leading to the development of controlled drug-release systems and new biomaterials; Richard Lifton of Yale University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for his discovery of genes and biochemical mechanisms that cause hypertension; and Alexander Varshavsky of Caltech, for his discovery of critical molecular determinants and biological functions of intracellular protein degradation. The six prize recipients will each receive $3 million in recognition of their achievements.
In addition, the foundation announced the launch of a new $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics, details of which will be announced at a later date. "Einstein said pure mathematics is the poetry of logical ideas," said Milner. "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."
"The Breakthrough Prize is our effort to put the spotlight on these amazing heroes," said Zuckerberg. "Their work in physics and genetics, cosmology, neurology, and mathematics will change lives for generations, and we are excited to celebrate them."