Breakthrough Prize Symposium, December 5, 2016

About the Symposium

The Breakthrough Prizes, the world’s largest science award, aim to celebrate science and scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career.

The prizes were founded by Silicon Valley innovators Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Yuri Milner and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. For the fifth year, the 2017 Breakthrough Prize will award up to five prizes in Life Sciences, one in Fundamental Physics and one in Mathematics. One of the Life Sciences awards will be given specifically for work contributing to the understanding of Parkinson’s disease and neurodegenerative disorders. The Physics award will recognize an individual or individuals who have made profound contributions to theoretical, mathematical, or experimental human knowledge.

The annual celebration includes a full-day symposium in the three recognized fields. Each year’s symposium is sponsored by UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University, with the physical venue alternating each year.

Life Sciences
The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences honors transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life. 

The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics rewards significant discoveries across the many branches of the subject. 

Fundamental Physics
The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes physicists working on the deepest mysteries of the Universe.



Event Details

The 2017 Breakthrough Prize Symposium will take place on Monday, December 5, 2016 at the University of California, San Francisco. It offers an opportunity to hear informal talks and panel discussions featuring the 2017 Breakthrough Prize laureates - whose names will have been announced the previous evening at the televised Breakthrough Prize ceremony -

The event will take place at: 

UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center
1675 Owens Street
San Francisco, California 94158

December 5, 2016
11:00 AM - 5:00 PM


Watch: Life Sciences Session from Last Year's Symposium



Morning and afternoon sessions: Laureate Talks

Time: 11:00am – 5.00pm
Place: Mission Bay Conference Center, William J. Rutter Center, UCSF Mission Bay
Audience: general public, tickets available in advance

During these sessions will be fourteen TED-style talks, each 15 minutes long, featuring 2016 and 2017 Breakthrough Prize laureates in life sciences, physics and mathematics.The talks will focus on ‘pragmatic visions’ : research goals could be attainable within about the next ten years. Areas covered will include: 

  • Developing new applications of stem cell research, from cancer therapies to drug screening
  • Potential of RNA research for enhancing gene-editing technologies and understanding the origins of life
  • Strategies to move from understanding to treating neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
  • How Neanderthal genomics might explain the uniqueness of human cognition
  • The next generation of gravitational wave experiments and possible targets
  • Medium-term goals of string theory, from resolving the paradoxes of black holes to estimating the lifetime of the universe
  • Future perspectives on the relations between the mathematics of waves and integers

See the full symposium schedule »

Panel Discussion

Time: 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Place: Genentech Hall, Byers Hall Auditorium
600 16th Street
San Francisco, California 94158
Audience: invited guests

In the evening session will be three cross-disciplinary panel discussions, each about 35 minutes long, featuring
Breakthrough Prize laureates from 2017 and previous years. They will be hosted by entrepreneur and investor, Yuri Milner, and focus on broad philosophical
  • Theory of Everything
  • The Evolution of Intelligence
  • How Long Can We Live?

See the discussion topics »


Watch: Panel Discussions from Last Year's Symposium



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