The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biomedicine category is shared, in this ninth edition, by Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer Doudna and Francisco Martínez Mojica, whose pioneering work has ignited “the revolution in biology permitted by CRISPR/Cas 9 techniques.” These tools facilitate genome modification with an unprecedented degree of precision, and far more cheaply and straightforwardly than any previous method. Not unlike today’s simple, intuitive word processing programs, CRISPR/Cas 9 is able to “edit” the genome by “cutting and pasting” DNA sequences: a technology so efficient and powerful that it has spread like wildfire round the laboratories of the world, explains the jury, “as a tool to understand gene function and treat disease.”
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Basic Sciences category goes, in this ninth edition, to mathematicians David Cox and Bradley Efron, for the development of “pioneering and hugely influential” statistical methods that have proved indispensable for obtaining reliable results in a vast spectrum of disciplines from medicine to astrophysics, genomics or particle physics.
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Information and Communication Technologies category goes, in this ninth edition, to artificial intelligence researcher Geoffrey Hinton, “for his pioneering and highly influential work” to endow machines with the ability to learn. The new laureate, the jury continues, “is inspired by how the human brain works and how this knowledge can be applied to provide machines with human-like capabilities in performing complex tasks.”
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Climate Change category goes, in this ninth edition, to climatologists Syukuro Manabe and James Hansen, separately responsible for constructing the first computational models with the power to simulate climate behavior. Decades ago, both men correctly predicted how much Earth’s temperature would rise due to increasing atmospheric CO2. The scores of models currently in use to chart climate evolution are “heirs” to those first developed by Manabe and Hansen.
In the months of January and February, Madrid will welcome the eight international juries deciding the accolades in the ninth edition of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards.