November 9, 2015 / 2:13 AM / 4 years ago

Factbox: Science's 'Breakthrough' prize winners

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The following is a list of winners of the Breakthrough Prizes, worth $3 million each, announced on Sunday in Mountain View, California.

Life Sciences:

Karl Deisseroth, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry at Stanford University, and Ed Boyden, Professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute

The two will each win a separate $3 million prize for developing and implementing optogenetics – the programming of neurons to express light-activated ion channels and pumps, so that their electrical activity can be controlled by light, potentially opening a new path to treatments for Parkinson’s, depression, Alzheimer’s and blindness.


Helen Hobbs, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Hobbs discovered human genetic variants that alter the levels and distribution of cholesterol and other lipids, inspiring new approaches to the prevention of cardiovascular and liver disease.


John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience at University College London

Hardy discovered mutations in the Amyloid Precursor Protein gene (APP) that cause early onset Alzheimer’s.


Svante Pääbo, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Pääbo pioneered the sequencing of ancient DNA and ancient genomes, illuminating the origins of modern humans and our relationships to extinct relatives such as Neanderthals.




Ian Agol, Associate Professor Department of Mathematics at University of California, Berkeley

Agol contributed low dimensional topology and geometric group theory, including work on the solutions of the tameness, virtual Haken and virtual fibering conjectures.



The prize will be shared among 1370 physicists representing five international teams, who will share $1 million, and their seven team leaders, who will share $2 million.

The teams built technically challenging experiments in underground caves to trap the neutrino, and thereby confirmed the theory of neutrino oscillation.

The teams are:

Super-Kamiokande, led by Takaaki Kajita of the Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe in Tokyo and Director at Institute of Cosmic Ray Research, and Yoichiro Suzuki,

Director at Institute of Cosmic Ray Research


Daya Bay, led by Yifang Wang of the Institute for High Energy Physics and Kam-Biu Luk, Professor, Department of Physics University of California, at Berkeley


K2K and T2K, led by Koichiro Nishikawa of K2K – from KEK to Kamioka – Long-Baseline Neutrino Oscillation Experiment


SNO, led by Arthur B. McDonald, Director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Institute


KAMLand, led by Atsuto Suzuki (KAMLand), Director General of KEK


Breakthrough Junior

Ryan Chester, a high-school senior from North Royalton High School in the U.S. state of Ohio, won $250,000 in scholarships for his video explaining the theory of relativity. An additional $100,000 went to his school for a science lab, plus $50,000 to his teacher Richard Nestoff.

Reporting by Sarah McBride; Editing by Andrew Hay, Greg Mahlich

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