The Breakthrough prizes, one of a growing number of science-themed megaprizes, recently bestowed some celebrity glitz—and $36 million—on researchers in mathematics, physics, and the life sciences. For example, six biologists were recognized for developing the CRISPR gene-editing system. Do such prizes advance the cause of science, or do they threaten to skew funding priorities? Might they even undermine science’s (dare we say it) nobility?

Poll Question:
The proliferation of big-money science prizes might be seen as cheering or worrisome. Where do you stand?

Science could use some glamor. The more prizes—the more glitz, the more money—the better.

Prizes could be a useful way to fund science. However, prizes should be structured so that prize money actually goes to support research, not individual researchers.

Prizes should be discouraged, at least until they show they won’t simply magnify existing disparities between lines of research that are already celebrated and those that are regularly overlooked.

Reject the whole “winner take all” ethos because it is antithetical to science as a deeply collaborative pursuit.

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