2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
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The Breakthrough Prize and founders Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, announced the recipients of the 2017 Breakthrough Prizes, marking the organization’s fifth anniversary recognizing top achievements in Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics.
The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences honors transformative advances towards understanding living systems and extending human life, with one prize dedicated to work that contributes to the understanding of neurological diseases.
Each of the Breakthrough Prizes is worth $3 million, the largest individual monetary prize in science.
Stephen J. Elledge, Gregor Mendel Professor of Genetics and Medicine in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and in the Division of Genetics at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for elucidating how eukaryotic cells sense and respond to damage in their DNA and providing insights into the development and treatment of cancer.
Harry F. Noller, Director of the Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, Robert L. Sinsheimer Professor of Molecular Biology and Professor Emeritus of MCD Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for discovering the centrality of RNA in forming the active centers of the ribosome, the fundamental machinery of protein synthesis in all cells, thereby connecting modern biology to the origin of life and also explaining how many natural antibiotics disrupt protein synthesis.
Roeland Nusse, Professor of Developmental Biology at Stanford University and Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for pioneering research on the Wnt pathway, one of the crucial intercellular signaling systems in development, cancer and stem cell biology.
Yoshinori Ohsumi, Honorary Professor, Institute of Innovative Research at Tokyo Institute of Technology for elucidating autophagy, the recycling system that cells use to generate nutrients from their own inessential or damaged components.
Huda Yahya Zoghbi, Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Molecular and Human Genetics, Neurology and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children's Hospital, for discoveries of the genetic causes and biochemical mechanisms of spinocerebellar ataxia and Rett syndrome, findings that have provided insight into the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and neurological diseases.
Among other awarded prizes were two female students who won the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, Antonella Masini, 18 (Peru) and Deanna See, 17 (Singapore). The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global science video competition designed to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics, or mathematics. In recognition of their winning submissions, both students received up to $400,000 in educational prizes.
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