Apr 17, 2023 · 4 min read

Renowned Scientists Honored at 9th Annual Breakthrough Prize Ceremony in Los Angeles

The Breakthrough Prize celebrates scientific achievements in physics, life sciences, and mathematics.

A large group of people stand onstage holding a spherical award in front of a crowd at the 9th annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony
Awardees recognized onstage at the 9th Annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony. | Photograph courtesy of Bob Riha with CZI

This past weekend, some of the biggest names in science, technology, and entertainment convened to honor the incredible achievements of Breakthrough Prize Laureates from 2021, 2022, and 2023. Hosted by actor and Emmy Award winner James Corden, the event celebrated scientists and researchers who have made groundbreaking new discoveries in physics, life sciences, and mathematics.

Established in 2012, the Breakthrough Prize recognizes the achievements of the world’s top scientists, awarding approximately $15 million annually in prizes. At this year’s event, the first in-person celebration since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CZI Co-Founder & Co-CEO and Breakthrough Prize Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg was joined by actor Robert Downey Jr. to present the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences to Shankar Balasubramanian, David Klenerman, and Pascal Mayer for developing a robust and affordable method to determine DNA sequences on a massive scale, called next-generation sequencing.

“Shankar Balasubramanian and David Klenerman in England, and Pascal Mayer working independently in France, hit upon a series of ingenious ideas for reading billions of DNA letters at once,” said Mark Zuckerberg. “While next-generation sequencing has already advanced prenatal tests to cancer diagnoses, the full impact of this invention — for science, industry and health — lies in the future. Congrats to Shankar, David, Pascal, and all the Breakthrough laureates.”

The laureates were honored at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, with presentations from co-founders of the Breakthrough Prize including Anne Wojcicki, Yuri Milner, and Sergey Brin, and entertainers such as Lily Collins, Danny DeVito, Brie Larson, Edward Norton, Lauren Ridloff, Chloé Zhao, and others. Luminaries such as former NASA astronaut Mae Carol Jemison and chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen also attended. The full ceremony will air Saturday, April 22 on YouTube.

Other laureates recognized at the event included: Charles H. Bennett (Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics), Gilles Brassard (Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics), Katalin Karikó (Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences), Jeffery W. Kelly (Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences), Yuk Ming Dennis Lo (Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences), Peter W. Shor (Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics), Daniel A. Spielman (Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics), and Drew Weissman (Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences).

The Breakthrough Prize also recognized three recent winners of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global science video competition for students aged 13-18 sponsored by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation: Noor Haideri, Amber Kwok, and Maryam Tsegaye. Additionally, the Breakthrough Prize celebrated Maggie Miller, Jinyoung Park, and Vera Traub as recent winners of the Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize, which recognizes women mathematicians who have completed their PhDs within the previous two years.


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our communities. Through collaboration, providing resources and building technology, our mission is to help build a more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

About Breakthrough Prize
Known popularly as the “Oscars® of Science,” the Breakthrough Prize recognizes the research achievements of the world’s top scientists, awarding approximately $15 million annually in prizes. Each prize is $3 million and presented in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics. In addition, up to three New Horizons in Physics Prizes ($100,000), up to three New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes ($100,000), and up to three Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prizes ($50,000) are given out to early-career researchers each year. Laureates attend a gala award ceremony designed to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists. The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki and have been sponsored by foundations established by them. Selection Committees composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates in each field choose the winners. Information on the Breakthrough Prize is available at breakthroughprize.org.

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