Yoshinori Ohsumi Wins US$3M Breakthrough Prize In Life Sciences

Ohsumi, who is an honorary professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, was among the nine winners of the 2017 Breakthrough Prizes.

AsianScientist (Dec. 8, 2016) – Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi is one of five winners of the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, worth US$3 million, the largest individual monetary prize in science.

Ohsumi, an honorary professor from the Institute of Innovative Research at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, was recognized for elucidating autophagy, the recycling system that cells use to generate nutrients from their own inessential or damaged components.

The Breakthrough Prize founders Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, announced the winners of the 2017 Prizes at a gala ceremony in Silicon Valley on December 4, 2016. This marks the organization’s fifth anniversary in recognizing top achievements in the life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics. The theme of the evening was “the universal reach of ideas.”

This year, a total of seven of these prizes were awarded to nine individuals, along with a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. Besides Ohsumi, the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences was awarded to Stephen J. Elledge (Harvard Medical School); Harry F. Noller (University of California, Santa Cruz); Roeland Nusse (Stanford University); and Huda Yahya Zoghbi (Baylor College of Medicine).

The 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to Joseph Polchinski (University of California, Santa Barbara); Andrew Strominger (Harvard University); and Cumrun Vafa (Harvard University). The 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics was awarded to Jean Bourgain (Institute for Advanced Study).

In addition, three US$100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prizes were awarded to six early-career physicists:

  • Asimina Arvanitaki (Perimeter Institute, Ontario), Peter W. Graham (Stanford University) and Surjeet Rajendran (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Simone Giombi (Princeton University) and Xi Yin (Harvard)
  • Frans Pretorius (Princeton University)

A further three US$100,000 New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes were awarded to four young mathematicians:

  • Mohammed Abouzaid (Columbia University)
  • Hugo Deuminil-Copin (Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques and University of Geneva)
  • Benjamin Elias (University of Oregon) and Geordie Williamson (Kyoto University and University of Sydney)

Furthermore, there were two winners of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global science video competition. Antonella Masini from Peru and Deanna See from Singapore won up to US$400,000 in educational prizes for them, their teacher and their school.

“There has never been a more important time to support science,” said Zuckerberg at the ceremony. “The 2017 Breakthrough Prize laureates represent the leaders in scientific research in physics, math and life sciences. Their breakthroughs will unlock new possibilities and help make the world a better place for everyone.”


Source: Breakthrough Prize; Photo: Tokyo Institute of Technology.
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