Princeton bioengineering professor Cliff Brangwynne has won the 2023 Breakthrough Prize for Life Sciences. He shares the prize with Anthony Hyman of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, with whom he was a postdoctoral researcher from 2007 to 2010. Brangwynne is the co-founder of Nereid Therapeutics, which raised a $50 million Series A round from Apple Tree Partners in late 2020.
Their findings during that time provided the basis for a major change in scientific understanding of how cells are organized, combining biology and materials science and engineering. Their studies of liquid-liquid phase separation, a phenomenon in cells that looks like a lava lamp in motion, has many implications for gene regulation and disease processes.
Brangwynne, the June K. Wu ’92 Professor in Engineering, co-founded Nereid to leverage liquid-liquid phase separation in the development of new ways to fight diseases such as cancers, neurodegenerative illnesses and inflammatory disorders. He currently serves as chair of Nereid’s scientific advisory board.
The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences celebrates “transformative advances towards understanding living systems and extending human life” and comes with an award of $3 million.