Future Science Prize Committee announced the winners of 2018 in Beijing on September 8. Jiayang Li, Longping Yuan and Qifa Zhang won the Prize in life sciences for their pioneering contributions in producing high-yield, superior-quality rice through systematic study of molecular mechanisms associated with specific rice features and application of novel approaches in rice breeding. Dawei Ma, Xiaoming Feng and Qilin Zhou won the Prize in physical sciences for inventing new catalysts and chemical reactions, which opened avenues for synthesizing organic molecules, especially pharmaceutical molecules. Burn J. Lin won the Prize in mathematics and computer science, for pioneering immersion lithography to continuously scale nano-metric integrated circuit fabrication, reviving and extending Moore’s law for multiple generations.
The Life Science Prize is awarded to Jiayang Li, Longping Yuan, Qifa Zhang, for their pioneering contributions in producing high-yield, superior-quality rice through systematic study of molecular mechanisms associated with specific rice features and application of novel approaches in rice breeding.
Rice is one of the most important staple crops that feeds more than half of the world population. Increasing rice yield and quality using genetic approaches has paramount importance in meeting challenges of a rapidly expanding population, while sustaining an inhabitable environment. However, rice yield and quality are complex traits determined by many genetic and environmental factors, making continued improvement of these traits a major scientific endeavor of our time.
Yuan pioneered the development of the first rice male sterile line that made it possible for large-scale production of hybrid rice to significantly increase yield. The success of his hybrid rice production system demonstrated that heterosis, a phenomenon in which the progeny of two different parents perform better than either parent, can occur in a self-fertilizing plant like rice and laid the foundation for using heterosis as a major breeding practice to generate rice varieties with higher yield and increased resistance to stress.
Following Yuan’s groundbreaking work on hybrid rice, Zhang and Li played seminal roles in bringing modern molecular genetic and genomic approaches to rice breeding. Zhang designed a highly innovative “immortalized F2 population” strategy that has been widely used to elucidate genetic components controlling heterosis in rice and other crops. Zhang identified the first gene that determines rice grain size. Zhang’s findings significantly reduced the randomness of the breeding practice and expanded the use of heterosis in rice breeding.
In synergy with Zhang’s research on heterosis, Li pioneered the study of how plant architecture affects rice yield. Li demonstrated that plant tiller number and panicle morphology are major yield determinants. His paradigm of breeding high yield and high quality super rice through rational design of ideal plant architecture has led to generation of 20 new rice varieties that have started to be planted in real fields (35 million “mu”s) since 2016.
Together, Li, Yuan and Zhang have made seminal discoveries using a wide breadth of approaches to drive sustainable yield gains in rice. Their immense contributions to basic research and to society have brought wide international acclaim to China. We honor their astounding achievements with the Future Science Prize. The $1 million prize was jointly awarded to Jiayang Li, Longping Yuan and Qifa Zhang.
Jiayang Li, born in July 1956, Anhui; Ph.D. Biology, 1991, Brandies University, USA.
Longping Yuan, born in September 1930, Beijing.
Qifa Zhang, born in December 1953, Hubei; Ph.D. Genetics, 1985, UC Davis, USA.
The Physical Science Prize is awarded to Dawei Ma, Xiaoming Feng and Qilin Zhou, for inventing new catalysts and chemical reactions, which opened avenues for synthesizing organic molecules, especially pharmaceutical molecules.
The development of new reactions and synthetic strategies for making molecules is a cornerstone of modern chemistry and molecular sciences. Chemists’ ability to make various molecules have transformed myriad of fields (drug discovery, perfume industry, materials sciences, and genomics) and have advanced our understanding of both the physical and life sciences at the molecular level. While numerous modes of bond breaking and forming have been discovered in the past 100 years, orchestrating these synthetic transformations in a highly selective and efficient manner and on a practical level hinges upon the invention of highly effective catalysts that can accelerate bond breaking and forming processes while conferring desired regioselectivity and enantioselectivity.
Based on rational molecular design and intuitive innovation, Ma, Zhou and Feng have developed transformative catalysts that have facilitated or changed the way we construct molecules. Ma discovered a copper/amino acid complex catalyst that promotes carbon-nitrogen bond formation, providing a widely used tool for synthesizing aniline-based drug molecules . Zhou designed a chiral spirocyclic ligand that can coordinate a range of metals including iridium and rhodium. The resulting catalysts enhance the enantioselectivity of asymmetric hydrogenation reactions . Feng designed a chiral N,N-dioxide scaffold that can serve as a catalyst alone or as a ligand to metals, serving as chiral Lewis acid catalysts to promote enantioselective carbon-carbon bond forming reactions . These three catalytic systems, bearing the names of the three chemists recognized here, have been used world-wide in both academia and industry. The $1 million prize was divided, with one half awarded to Dawei Ma, and the other half jointly to Xiaoming Feng and Qilin. Zhou.
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Dawei Ma, born 1963 in Henan, China. Ph.D. 1989 from Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Professor and Vice President of Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Xiaoming Feng, born 1964 in Sichuan, China. Ph.D. 1996 from Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Professor of Sichuan University.
Qilin Zhou, born 1957 in Jiangsu, China. Ph.D. 1987 from Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Professor of Nankai University.
The Mathematics and Computer Science Prize is awarded to Burn J. Lin, for pioneering immersion lithography to continuously scale nano-metric integrated circuit fabrication, reviving and extending Moore’s law for multiple generations.
Burn J. Lin’s pioneered immersion lithography with groundbreaking innovations have revolutionized integrated circuit production to enable the continuous scaling of advanced semiconductor chips down to nano-metric feature dimensions for the most powerful computing and communication applications for the past fifteen years and foreseeable future.
Conventional “dry” lithography had been used for four decades ever since the invention of planar integrated circuits (ICs) in 1959, but encountered insurmountable barrier in late 1990s to fabricate ICs with feature sizes smaller than 65nm, owing to fundamental optical diffraction limitations. Lin foresaw an expensive dead end with the traditional projection-type lithography and proposed to use immersion (or “wet”) lithography, a novel lithographic process with enhanced optical resolution by replacing the air gap between the lens and the wafer surface with a liquid medium.
Although the concept of immersion lithography was proposed in early 80s, it was not a realizable approach. Lin created critical performance metrics and derived scaling equations for the immersion lithography systems to be fully characterized and optimized, which mapped out scaling laws for the intended super-high resolution 3D immersion optics. Additionally, he investigated and created methods to overcome obstacles relevant to micro bubble formation and the thermodynamic limit of optical diffraction via water. His inventions were proven to be feasible both scientifically and engineering-wise in applying “wet” lithography for advanced IC productions. His breakthrough inventions and enduring technical leadership convinced the entire semiconductor industry to adopt immersion lithography, continuously scaling down silicon IC tech nodes from 65nm to 7nm, delineated by using most cost-effective 193nm ArF laser source for the past 15 years. Moore’s Law has therefore been extended by 7 generations. According to IEEE’s recent statistics, at least 80% of all transistors in the world are now made with immersion lithography.
Since the invention of the integrated circuit sixty years ago, the semiconductor technology has powered the biggest industrial and social revolution in the history of mankind. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of IC, it is appropriate and compelling to bestow the Future Science Prize in Mathematics and Computer Science to a hero of semiconductor industry, the Father of Immersion lithography, an exceptionally accomplished scientist and inventor, Burn J. Lin.
Future Science Prize is the first privately funded scientific award in China. It was established in 2015 to award scientists whose original research work, mostly completed in the Greater China region, has made significant impact in the international science communities and passed the test of time, regardless of their nationalities, genders or ages. By promoting basic research and scientific talents in the region, the hope is to inspire its society's love for science, respect for scientists, and attention for scientific and technological developments, and to improve the scientific literacy of Chinese citizens.
The nomination and selection process of the Prize was established in according with the Nobel Prize system: the Science Committee of the Future Science Prize invites international experts as nominators. After receiving confidential nominations, the committee solicits evaluation letters from international experts in the relevant fields of the nominated work. Based on the evaluations, the committee votes to select the final award winners. A regulatory committee, consisting of Xiqing Gao from the School of Law at Tsinghua University and KPMG, supervises the entire award selection process.
The current Science Committee consists of 21 leading scientists: Zhenan Bao from Stanford University，Frank Chang from National Chiao Tung University，Hong Ding from Institute of Physics of Chinese Academy of Sciences，Xinnian Dong from Duke University，Chuan He from University of Chicago, Fei-Fei Li from Stanford University, Kai Li from Princeton University, Jian-Shu Li from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Yong-Jun Liu from Sanofi Group，Liqun Luo from Stanford University, Shude Mao from Tsinghua University，Xiangdong Ji from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Yi Rao from Peking University, Chi-Wang Shu from Brown University, Gang Tian from Peking University, Xiaodong Wang from Beijing National Institute of Biological Sciences, Xiao-Gang Wen from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jeff Xia from Northwestern University, Sunney Xie from Peking University, Peidong Yang from University of California at Berkeley and Jin-Quan Yu from Scripps Research Institute.
The cash award for the Future Science Prize in each category is 6.8 million Yuan (1 million US dollars), donated by four individuals. The donors for life sciences are James Ding, Robin Li, Neil Shen and Lei Zhang. The donors for the category of physical sciences are Feng Deng, Yajun Wu, Ying Wu and Bob Xu. The donors for mathematics and computer science are William Ding, Jason Jiang, Pony Ma and Victor Wang.
The award ceremony of the 2018 Future Science Prize will be held in Beijing on November 18th, the last day of the 2-day Future Forum (F²) Science Symposium.（end）