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Meet the 2023 and 2022 Winners of Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Prize

Every year, Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Prize awards the world’s most influential scientists and mathematicians with cultural recognition and millions of dollars in prize money. The Breakthrough Prize laureates have all made groundbreaking discoveries that contribute to their field of research and enrich the lives of people everywhere.

Here, we’ll share the 2023 Breakthrough Prize winners, look back at some 2022 laureates, and explore the Giving Pledge story behind the “Oscars of science.”

Breakthrough Prize Laureates 2022-23

Every year, the Breakthrough Prize hands out several $3 million awards in three main categories:

  1. Life Sciences.
  2. Fundamental Physics.
  3. Mathematics.

Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Discoveries in the life sciences can have an immense impact on our daily lives. For example, work on modified RNA technology by Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman (2022 winners of the Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize) led to the development of effective Covid-19 vaccines.

Most recently, three 2023 Breakthrough Prizes in the life sciences category went to:

  • Emmanuel Mignot and Masashi Yanagisawa for their discovery of the cause of narcolepsy.
  • Demis Hassabis and John Jumper, for their work on deep learning, AI method that predicts the 3D structure of proteins from amino acid sequences.
  • Anthony A. Hyman and Clifford P. Brangwynne for discovering a cellular organization mechanism regarding proteins and RNA.

Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

Discoveries in the field of fundamental physics bring us ever closer to understanding the deep mysteries of the Universe.

The 2022 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics went to Jun Ye and Hidetoshi Katori for their work inventing and developing the optical lattice clock, which allowed precise tests of the fundamental laws of nature.

Peter W. Shor, David Deutsch, Giles Brassard, and Charles H. Bennett share the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for their important work in the quantum information field.

Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics

Takuro Mochizuki won the 2022 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics for work that led to a breakthrough in our understanding of “the theory of bundles with flat connections over algebraic varieties.”

Daniel A. Spielman is the 2023 winner in the mathematics category, owing to his contribution to the field of theoretical computer science.

Additional 2023 Winners

Besides these main prizes, 11 early-career researchers shared six New Horizons 2023 Prizes in Physics and Mathematics (each prize is $100,000).

David Simmons-Duffin and Anna Grassellino each won a 2023 New Horizons in Physics Prize for their work in conformal field theories and niobium superconducting radio-frequency cavities, respectively.

Together, Hannes Bernien, Manuel Endres, Adam M. Kaufman, Kang-Kuen Ni, Hannes Pichler, and Jeff Thompson took home a third New Horizons in Physics Prize for their development of optical tweezer arrays (with applications in molecular physics, metrology, and quantum information science).

The 2023 New Horizons in Mathematics Prize winners are Ana Caraiani, Ronen Eldan, and James Maynard for their work on the Hodge-Tate period map for Shimura varieties and its applications, the creation of the stochastic localization method, and contributions to the analytic number theory, respectively.

Finally, three women mathematicians with recently completed PhDs each received a 2023 Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize worth $50,000: Maggie Miller, Jinyoung Park, and Vera Traub.

Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge Philanthropy

In 2012, Yuri Milner and his wife Julia signed Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge. In doing so, the couple made a lifetime commitment to donate at least half of their wealth to chiefly scientific causes.

The same year, in collaboration with Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Anne Wojcicki, and Sergey Brin, the Milners launched the Breakthrough Prize.

The Milners’ Giving Pledge promise has also led to the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a science video competition for children everywhere, and the Breakthrough Initiatives, a suite of space science research programs.

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