Some $22 million in prizes was awarded yesterday to researchers working in fields ranging from birational algebraic geometry to chromosomal folding at a ritzy event in Silicon Valley, the Guardian reports.
The Breakthrough Foundation was started by billionaire Yuri Milner along with Google's Sergey Brin and 23andMe's Anne Wojcicki, Alibaba's Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, among others. Milner argued in a 2014 New York Times article that scientists should be feted as though they were rock stars.
Among those honored at the Breakthrough prize ceremony hosted yesterday at NASA's Ames Research Center by actor Morgan Freeman were Oxford University's Kim Nasmyth for his work on chromosomal packaging; the University of California, San Francisco's Peter Walter and Kyoto University's Kazutoshi Mori for their studies of the unfolded protein response; and the Salk Institute's Joanne Chory for her work on the molecular mechanisms of how plants respond to shade.
"It's a wonderful bonus, but not something you expect," Nasmyth tells the Guardian about the prize. "It's a huge amount of money, I haven't had time to think it through."
As Time reports, other recipients include mathematicians Christopher Hacon from University of Utah and James McKernan from UC-San Diego and the team behind the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.