Russian-Jewish billionaire gives out $22 million in sciences prizes

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Russian-Jewish  billionaire Yuri Milner gave out nearly $22 million in Breakthrough Prize Awards for contributions to life sciences, math and physics.

He was joined Sunday night at a televised  ceremony in Silicon Valley by prize co-founders Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

The prize was established three years ago in order to help make the sciences as popular as sports and entertainment.

The 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics, worth $3 million was presented to Ian Agol of the University of California at Berkeley and Institute for Advanced Study.

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The 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, five prizes of $3 million each, were presented to: Edward S. Boyden of MIT; Karl Deisseroth, of Stanford University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute; John Hardy, of University College London; Helen Hobbs of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

The 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, worth $3 million, was awarded to five experiments investigating neutrino oscillation and will be shared equally among all five teams, comprising 1,377 scientists.

Several other prizes, including the New Horizons prizes that recognize  the achievements of young scientists,  were awarded.

The winners were awarded during a black-tie event held at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Animator Seth MacFarlane hosted the event and  singer Pharell Williams performed.

Milner announced in July that he would dedicate $100 million to a 10-year project launched with astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life.

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