At the 8th annual Breakthrough Prize gala, also known as the "Oscars of Science"-set for November 3 at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California-The Breakthrough Prize Foundation will be awarding 21.6 million dollars in winnings to teams and individuals who have made a significant impact in their respective fields of science this past year.  

The awards are meant to highlight, as well as help further explore, some of the most important scientific discoveries. These recognitions are for discoveries such as the world's first image of a black hole, along with discoveries in the causes of neurodegenerative disease, as well as advancements in non-opioid analgesics to extinguish chronic. 

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation revealed the recipients of the 2020 Breakthrough Prize and 2020 New Horizons Prize for accomplishments in the Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics, and Mathematics.

Each winner will be awarded 3 million dollars, the largest such awarding in the world.

Prize citations are as follow.

2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

  • The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Collaboration Director Shep Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics will accept on behalf the collaboration. The $3 million prize will be shared equally with 347 scientists co-authoring any of the six papers published by the EHT on April 10, 2019, which can be found here.

Citation: For the first image of a supermassive black hole, taken by means of an Earth-sized alliance of telescopes.

2020 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics

  • Alex Eskin
    University of Chicago

Citation: For revolutionary discoveries in the dynamics and geometry of moduli spaces of Abelian differentials, including the proof of the "magic wand theorem" with Maryam Mirzakhani.

2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences


  • Jeffrey M. Friedman
    Rockefeller University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Citation: For the discovery of a new endocrine system through which adipose tissue signals the brain to regulate food intake.

  • F. Ulrich Hartl
    Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry


  • Arthur L. Horwich

Yale School of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Citation: For discovering functions of molecular chaperones in mediating protein folding and preventing protein aggregation.

  • David Julius
    University of California, San Francisco

Citation: For discovering molecules, cells, and mechanisms underlying pain sensation.

  • Virginia Man-Yee Lee
    University of Pennsylvania

Citation: For discovering TDP43 protein aggregates in frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and revealing that different forms of alpha-synuclein, in different cell types, underlie Parkinson's disease and Multiple System Atrophy.

2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize

  • Xie Chen
    California Institute of Technology
  • Lukasz Fidkowski
    University of Washington
  • Michael Levin
    University of Chicago
  • Max A. Metlitski
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Citation: For incisive contributions to the understanding of topological states of matter and the relationships between them.

  • Jo Dunkley
    Princeton University
  • Samaya Nissanke
    University of Amsterdam
  • Kendrick Smith
    Perimeter Institute

Citation: For the development of novel techniques to extract fundamental physics from astronomical data.

  • Simon Caron-Huot
    McGill University
  • Pedro Vieira
    Perimeter Institute and ICTP-SAIFR

Citation: For profound contributions to the understanding of quantum field theory.

2020 New Horizons in Mathematics Prize

  • Tim Austin
    University of California, Los Angeles

Citation: For multiple contributions to ergodic theory, most notably the solution of the weak Pinsker conjecture.

  • Emmy Murphy
    Northwestern University

Citation: For contributions to symplectic and contact geometry, in particular the introduction of notions of loose Legendrian submanifolds and, with Matthew Strom Borman and Yakov Eliashberg, overtwisted contact structures in higher dimensions.

  • Xinwen Zhu
    California Institute of Technology

Citation: For work in arithmetic algebraic geometry including applications to the theory of Shimura varieties and the Riemann-Hilbert problem for p-adic varieties.

The program has a different theme each year. This year's theme is "Seeing the Invisible", a nod to the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, which created the first image of a black hole.

The Breakthrough Prizes are sponsored by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki. Selection Committees composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates in each field choose the winners.

Information on Breakthrough Prize is available at