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Star-studded Prize

A ceremony that included appearances by Mark Zuckerberg, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Diaz, and Elon Musk feted the work of the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Victor Ambros, and Gary Ruvkun from Massachusetts General Hospital, the Guardian reports. They all were recipients of the life sciences Breakthrough prize.

These awards were kicked off about two years ago by billionaire Yuri Milner, who argues that science should be "as glitzy as rock 'n' roll," the New York Times adds. Yuri and Julia Milner have teamed up with Facebook's Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan along with Google's Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki and Alibaba's Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang to give out a dozen prizes worth a total $36 million.

"The world faces many fundamental challenges today and there are many amazing scientists, researchers and engineers helping us solve them," Zuckerberg said in a statement. "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."

Doudna and Charpentier were honored for their work on CRISPR/Cas9, and Ambros and Ruvkun were lauded for their exploration of microRNA-based gene regulation.

Other winners included Alim Louis Benabid at the Joseph Fourier University, Rockefeller University's David Allis, and physicists Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt, and Adam Riess. The mathematics prizewinners were celebrated at a separate event over the summer.