Meet The 13 Scientists Honored For Making Big ‘Breakthroughs’

More than $21 million in prizes was awarded to scientists at the forefront of fundamental physics, life sciences, and math in the glitzy Breakthrough Prize award ceremony at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., on Sunday night.

The red carpet event may have appeared like something for Hollywood’s elite — Pharrell, Russell Crowe, Hilary Swank, Lily Collins, and other celebrities were in attendance — but it was specifically for the science world. Seven groundbreaking research projects and the masterminds behind them were selected by a committee of previous winners to be honored.

“It’s really from your peers,” Dr. Svante Pääbo, director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and one of this year’s winners, told The Huffington Post. “That makes it exciting.”

.@Pharrell gives a shout out to science ahead of performing Freedom at the #breakthroughprize

— Hannah Kuchler (@hannahkuchler) November 9, 2015

The ceremony was hosted by “Cosmos” executive producer and “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, who described the event as “a night where we celebrate people whose talent is their brain power.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive and one of the co-founders of the awards, agrees.

“By challenging conventional thinking and expanding knowledge over the long term, scientists can solve the biggest problems of our time,” he said in an email. “The Breakthrough Prize honors achievements in science and math so we can encourage more pioneering research and celebrate scientists as the heroes they truly are.”

The ceremony aired live on the National Geographic Channel.

From sequencing ancient DNA to programming neurons, scroll down for a list of the winning research and scientists.

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences