Nobel, schmobel: those stingy Swedes only give away $1.4 million with their award. The real prize in the academic world is the new Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which has a more boring name but a more exciting check: $3 million, the largest academic prize in the world. So congrats to Johns Hopkins professor of oncology and pathology Bert Vogelstein, who’s one of this year’s winners.
The prize, which is endowed by four start-up entrepreneurs (including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin), is aimed at rewarding risky, innovative research. Vogelstein certainly qualifies: he discovered a protein that suppresses tumor growth and also devised a model for the progression of colon cancer, thus improving early detection and diagnosis.
Ten years ago, Vogelstein was named “the world’s leading scientist,” according to a company which analyzed and ranked research citations. (In other words, Vogelstein’s work was cited 106,401 times in 20 years — far more than any other scientist.)
Back in 2003, Stephen Altschul praised Vogelstein’s research: “Vogelstein has been doing very important work for very many years now. Each year, people ask if it’s his turn to get a Nobel prize. Maybe next month we’ll find out if this is his year.” Now Vogelstein can rest satsified — he’s gotten an even better prize, thank you very much.