Two Chinese scientists are among the six recipients of this year's Shaw Prizes in mathematics, medicine and astronomy. Wang Xiaodong, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre, has been awarded the prize for medicine and life science for 'his discovery of the biochemical basis of programmed cell death, a vital process that balances cell birth and defends against cancer'. Wu Wentsun, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and David Mumford, of Brown University, Rhode Island, share this year's prize for mathematics. Professor Wu won for 'his contributions to the new interdisciplinary field of mathematics and mechanisation'. Professor Mumford won for 'his contributions to the new interdisciplinary fields of pattern theory and vision research'. The Shaw Prize in astronomy was awarded jointly to Professor Saul Perlmutter, of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Adam Riess, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and Professor Brian Schmidt of Australian National University, for 'discovering that the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating'. Each prize carries a US$1 million prize - which is shared where there is more than one winner. The committee that awarded the medicine prize said that, thanks to the work of Professor Wang and others, 'programmed cell death is now understood mechanistically as well as programmed cell birth, thereby restoring the balance necessary for a complete understanding of animal life'. The maths committee said that under Professor Wu's leadership, 'mathematics mechanisation has expanded in recent years into a rapidly growing discipline'. This is the third year the Shaw Prizes have been awarded. They were created by Sir Run Run Shaw, co-founder of the Shaw Brothers film studio. The awards will be presented on September 12 in Hong Kong.