Winners of 2019 Breakthrough Prize Will Lead Discussions on Cutting-Edge Research with Inspiring TED-Style Talks 


WHAT:          The 2019 Breakthrough Prize Symposium, held the day after the Breakthrough

Prize Awards ceremony, will feature both current and former laureates leading TED-style talks on cutting-edge science research initiatives and the significance and future of scientific discovery.


Topics include abnormal chromosomes and their role in cancer and potential use as a therapeutic target; exploring radio bursts and what’s going on in the stars; algebraic geometry and the Langlands Program; and discussing RNA splicing as a target for the next generation of precision medicines.


Dr. Jennifer Doudna, 2015 Breakthrough Prize Laureate and leader in the CRISPR revolution, will present “Recoding Life: The Future of Genome Editing.”


The event will conclude with three cross-disciplinary panel discussions between laureates past and present, about broad philosophical subjects around science and technology.  The topics of this year’s discussions include: ‘Is there (intelligent) life in the Universe?’; ‘What are the limits of science?’; and ‘Is time travel possible?’.


For a detailed schedule of the program, visit  


WHEN:        Monday, November 5, 2018

                     Pauley Ballroom, MLK Student Union

UC Berkeley

The presentations will be streamed live via YouTube (see program for URLs) and Facebook Live. 


Breakthrough Prize Laureate Talks

9:30AM – 5:00PM PST


Evening Cross-Disciplinary Panel

5:30PM – 7:00 PM PST





 (9:30AM – 5:00PM PST)


10:30 AM – Abnormal Chromosome Number: it’s Role in Cancer and Potential as a Therapeutic

Angelika Amon, 2019 Laureate


10:55 AM – Envisaging the Emergence of Quantum Topological Matter      

Charles Kane, 2019 Laureate


11:20 AM – Recoding Life: The Future of Genome Editing               

Jennifer Doudna, 2015 Laureate


11:45 AM – Some Open Problems in Algebraic Geometry and the Langlands Program

Vincent Lafforgue, 2019 Laureate


12:10 PM – RNA Splicing as a Target for the Next Generation of Precision Medicines       

Adrian R. Krainer, 2019 Laureate


1:35 PM – Biomaterials and How They Will Change our Lives         

Robert Langer, 2014 Laureate


2:00 PM – Imaging the Invisible in Living Organisms –– Current State of the Art and Future         

Xiaowei Zhuang, 2019 Laureate


2:25 PM – The Winding Road from Topological Insulators   

Gene Mele, 2019 Laureate


2:50 PM – Inflammation 2030 – Modern Disease Caused by an Old Flame  

James Chen, 2019 Laureate


3:45 PM – Seeking a Computer-free Proof of the 4-Color Theorem

Ian Agol, 2016 Laureate


4:10 PM – Genetic Medicines: Present and Future    

Frank Bennett, 2019 Laureate


5:00 PM – Radio Bursts!  What’s Going on Amongst the Stars?

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, 2018 Laureate



(5:30 – 7:00PM PST)


Is there (intelligent) life in the Universe?

Featuring Jocelyn Bell, Astronomy, 2018 Laureate; John Hardy, Neuroscience, 2017 Laureate; and Kim Nasmyth, Molecular Biology, 2018 Laureate


Astronomers have been looking for life beyond Earth for decades, but have so far found nothing. But the recent discovery that almost all stars probably host planets may have changed the game. How likely are we to find primitive life? How hard is it to get from cells to brains? And why have we not seen evidence of civilizations?


What are the limits of science?

Featuring Andrei Linde, Theoretical Physics, Cosmology – 2012 Laureate; Gary Ruvkun, Molecular Biology, Genetics, 2015 Laureate; and  Xiaowei Zhuang, Biophysics, 2019 Laureate


Science has shown us a universe more and more distant from our familiar world: at microscopic and cosmic scales, at the dawn of time and remote stages of evolutionary history. But is this process limitless? What are the furthest and smallest physical and biological objects we can see? Can we ever know what happened at the moment of the Big Bang? And how far back can we retrace the origin of life on Earth?


Is time travel possible?

Nima Arkani-Hamed, Theoretical Physics, 2012 Laureate; Daniel Harlow, Theoretical Physics,  2019 Laureate; Daniel Jafferis, Theoretical Physics,  2019 Laureate; and Aron Wall, Theoretical Physics, 2019 Laureate


Time travel is a staple of science fiction, but how does mainstream science see it? Is it forbidden by the laws of physics? And if not, could it ever be a practical possibility? And do scientists even agree about what time is?



MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES: All events are free and open to the media, but seating is limited. Please RSVP to Kristen Bothwell / / 212-843-9227; or Emily Gest / / 917-690-7823.


The Breakthrough Prize Symposium partners include Stanford University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, Berkeley.


The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences honors transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life. The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics honors the world’s best mathematicians who have contributed to major advances in the field. The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the Universe.


For more information on the Breakthrou
gh Prize, visit