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Hollywood and Tech Collide at the Breakthrough Prize Ceremony

By Drew Altizer Photography

Is it hot in here, or is it Lenny Kravitz? Indeed, the “American Woman” singer brought the cool to the West Coast equivalent of the Washington Correspondents Dinner.

The Breakthrough Prize ceremony, otherwise known as the Oscars of Science, is the one night a year where a Tyra Banks or an Edward Norton might be spotted mingling with one of the scientists responsible for taking the first-ever image of a supermassive black hole. Kinda random! But always cool.

Co-founded by Silicon Valley tech giants Anne Wojcicki, Sergey Brin, Ma Huateng, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, the eighth annual awards show, held at the NASA Ames Research Center, recognizes the best and brightest in life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics with a supergenerous $3 million prize — and invites all of Hollywood to join in the festivities.

It was a fruitful night of star spotting. A-listers abounded, including Drew Barrymore (in rose-tinted glasses); Taraji P. Henson; Allison Janney and LeVar Burton; musician (and Zoë’s dad) Lenny Kravitz; supermodels Karlie Kloss and Adriana Lima, and comedian James Corden.Kravitz and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am performed at the ceremony.

The Breakthrough Prize winners included Jeffrey M. Friedman, F. Ulrich Hartl, Arthur L. Horwich, David Julius, Virginia Man-Yee Lee and Alex Eskin, for such scientific accomplishments as “determining the biological basis of obesity and discoveries in the biochemistry of pain sensation.”

Accompany Wojcicki on the red carpet? Her sister Susan, CEO of YouTube; her mother, Esther, a well-respected journalist and former Gazette profile subject; and her other sister, Janet, who is a successful San Francisco doctor. The seriously influential quartet stunned in their black tie best.

Meanwhile, co-founders Chan and Zuckerberg matched in ultra-chic all-black, as if attending a funeral for democracy. [Side-eye emoji.]

Other Bay Area royalty in attendance: Sundar and Anjali Pichai, Marissa Mayer, Gisel and Omid Kordestani, Joe and Nicole Lacob, and Juliet de Baubigny. 

Nicole Lacob’s legend precedes her. The philanthropist, one of the most fashionable women in the Valley, always brings her A-game.
If you follow Drew Barrymore on Instagram (@drewbarrymore), then you know how charmingly down to earth she is. We love you and your Diane Keaton pants, Drew!
For those wondering what the Marissa Mayer has been up to lately, this gown is nothing less than a mic drop.
Leave it to the model and entrepreneur, Tyra Banks, to own the red carpet with her famous smize and make it her personal runway.
Anjali Pichai, an engineer, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, are among the tech titans who support the annual prize.

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