The Breakthrough Prize Foundation has announced the winners of the 2020 Breakthrough Prizes in fundamental physics, life sciences, and mathematics.
Through the program, now in its eighth year, the foundation awarded a total of $21.6 million in cash prizes to three hundred and sixty-five researchers, including six New Horizons Prizes of $100,000 each in recognition of early-career achievements in physics and mathematics. In the category of fundamental physics, the 2020 Breakthrough Prize was awarded to the three hundred and forty-seven members of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which published six papers explaining the first image of a supermassive black hole — an image captured by radio telescopes located in Antarctica, Chile, Mexico, Hawaii, Arizona, and Spain. The $3 million cash prize will be shared among the scientists, who are based at sixty institutions around the globe.
The 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics was awarded to Alex Eskin (University of Chicago), who will receive $3 million for his discoveries in the dynamics of the moduli spaces of Abelian differentials — including proof of the "magic wand theorem" in collaboration with Maryam Mirzakhani, who died in 2017 at age 40 from breast cancer. And the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences was awarded to Jeffrey M. Friedman (Rockefeller University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute), for the discovery of a new endocrine system through which adipose tissue signals the brain to regulate food intake; F. Ulrich Hartl (Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry) and Arthur L. Horwich (Yale School of Medicine and HHMI), who discovered the functions of molecular chaperones in mediating protein folding and preventing protein aggregation; David Julius (University of California, San Francisco), for the discovery of cellular signaling mechanisms that produce pain sensation; and Virginia Man-Yee Lee (University of Pennsylvania), who discovered TDP43 protein aggregates in frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and showed that different forms of alpha-synuclein, in different cell types, underlie Parkinson's disease and multiple system atrophy.
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 Zuckerberg's fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Brin Wojcicki, Jack Ma, and Milner foundations.