The 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences were awarded to C. David Allis of Rockefeller University, for his discovery of covalent modifications of histone proteins and the critical roles they play in the regulation of gene expression and chromatin organization, a discovery that has helped advance the understanding of diseases ranging from birth defects to cancer; Victor Ambros of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Gary Ruvkun of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, for their discovery of a new world of genetic regulation by microRNAs, which inhibit translation or destabilize complementary mRNA targets; Alim Louis Benabid of Université Joseph Fourier, for his pioneering work on the development of high-frequency deep brain stimulation, work that has revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson's disease; and Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research and Umeå University and Jennifer A. Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for harnessing an ancient mechanism of bacterial immunity into a powerful and general technology for editing genomes. Each prize recipient will receive a $3 million cash award.
The 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to a collaboration of fifty-one researchers for their discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating rather than slowing, as had been long assumed. Recipients, who will share the $3 million prize, include Saul Perlmutter of the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and leader of the Supernova Cosmology Project team, and Brian P. Schmidt of the Australian National University and Adam Riess of Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute, who led the High-Z Supernova team.
In addition, the foundation announced New Horizons in Physics Prizes of $100,000 each to junior researchers working on promising projects. The recipients are Sean Hartnoll of Stanford University, for his work in obtaining new insights into strongly interacting quantum matter; Philip C. Schuster and Natalia Toro of the Perimeter Institute, for pioneering the "simplified models" framework for new physics searches at the Large Hadron Collider and spearheading experimental searches for dark sectors using high-intensity electron beams; and Horacio Casini and Marina Huerta of CONICET and Instituto Balseiro, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Shinsei Ryu of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Tadashi Takayanagi of Kyoto University, for advancing fundamental ideas about entropy in quantum field theory and quantum gravity.
Founded by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, the Breakthrough Prizes are funded by Mark Zuckerberg's fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Brin Wojcicki, Jack Ma, and Milner foundations.
"The world faces many fundamental challenges today, and there are many amazing scientists, researchers, and engineers helping us solve them," said Zuckerberg. "This year's Breakthrough Prize winners have made discoveries that will help cure disease and move the world forward. They deserve to be recognized as heroes."