Glitzy ‘Science Oscars’ to make stars of researchers

Nine scientists were recognised with a ‘Breakthrough Prize’, a US$3 million Silicon Valley-funded award meant to confer Oscars-style glamour and prestige on the basic sciences.
The prizes in physics, life sciences and mathematics went to six men and three women, reports AFP.

Vincent Lafforgue, of France’s National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), was awarded the prize in mathematics for ground-breaking work in multiple areas. Five United States-based researchers who won prizes in the life sciences included Frank Bennett and Adrian Krainer, from companies in Carlsbad, California and Long Island, New York. They were recognised for their discovery of a DNA-linked process that led to a treatment for a rare infantile disorder, spinal amyotrophy. They were joined by Chinese-born scientists Xiaowei Zhuang (Harvard University), who developed a new tool for super-resolution molecular imagery, and Zhijian ‘James’ Chen (University of Texas), for his discovery of a DNA-sensing enzyme that could be associated with auto-immune disorders.

Six US$100,000 awards also were given to 12 researchers for promising early career work. The ‘Breakthrough Prize’ is only six years old but it is far more lavish than the coveted Nobel, which comes with prize money of around US$1 million and is often shared by two or three laureates. The prizes will be presented at a star-studded red carpet ceremony in November, hosted at a NASA research center in Silicon Valley by actor Pierce Brosnan.
Full report on the France 24 site