WINNERS OF THE 2020 BREAKTHROUGH PRIZE IN LIFE SCIENCES, FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICS AND MATHEMATICS ANNOUNCED

September 5, 2019 – (San Francisco) – The Breakthrough Prize Foundation and its founding sponsors – Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki – today announced the recipients of the 2020 Breakthrough Prize and 2020 New Horizons Prize, awarding a collective $21.6 million in recognition of important achievements in the Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics, and Mathematics.

Now in its eighth year, the Breakthrough Prize, known as the “Oscars of Science,” annually recognizes achievements in the Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics, disciplines that ask the biggest questions and seek the deepest explanations. Considered the world’s most generous science prize, each Breakthrough Prize is $3 million.

This year’s winners are credited with discoveries that address important and compelling scientific questions – from “What does a black hole look like?” to “Why do chilis taste hot?” and “What are the causes of neurodegenerative disease?”

As a collective, this year’s Breakthrough Prize laureates probed the galaxies to capture the first image of a black hole; imagined gravity at the quantum level; laid the foundation for non-opioid analgesics to extinguish chronic pain; established the biological basis of how much we eat and weigh; and discovered common mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders, including early-onset dementia. Full citations can be found below.

In addition, six New Horizons Prizes were awarded to twelve scientists recognizing early-career achievements in physics and mathematics. Full citations can be found below.

The new laureates will be recognized at the eighth annual Breakthrough Prize gala awards ceremony on Sunday, November 3, at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and broadcast live on National Geographic. Each year, the program has a theme, and this year’s topic – “Seeing the Invisible” – is inspired by the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, which created the first image of a black hole, as well as the broader power of science and mathematics to reveal hidden, uncharted worlds.

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The Tucson EHT Team includes Assistant Astronomer Chi-Kwan Chan, SO Prize Fellow Pierre Christian, NOAO Astronomer Tod Lauer, Associate Professor Dan Marrone, Professor Feryal Ozel, Professor Dimitrios Psaltis, and Astronomy/Steward Head/Director Buell Jannuzi and Professor Lucy Ziurys. Graduate students working on the project include David Ball, Junhan Kim (PhD August 2019), Lia Medeiros (PhD April 2019), Carolyn Raithel, Mel Rose, Arash Roshanineshat, Kaushik Satapathy, and Tyler Trent. Current and former undergraduates include Joseph Allen, Devin Cameron, Elizabeth Champagne, Landen Conway, Ryan Gatski, Dalton Glove, Yuan Jea Hew, Kyle Massingill, Kaylah McGowan, Jose Perez, Will Price, Gustavo Rodriguez, Anthony Schlecht, and Alexis Tinoco. Observatory staff includes Patrick Fimbres, Thomas Folkers, David Forbes, Robert Freund, Christopher Greer, Christian Holmstedt, Gene Lauria, Martin McColl, Robert Moulton, and George Reiland.