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The Breakthrough prizes are described by their Silicon Valley founders as ‘the Oscars of science’, and while they are not as glamorous, they do come with a $3m award. This year, one of the prizes was dished out to Prof Emmanuel Mignot at Stanford University and Masashi Yanagisawa at the University of Tsukuba for their work uncovering the cause of narcolepsy. Their discovery has opened the door to the development of treatments for this chronic and often debilitating condition. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Mignot about how he pinpointed the cause of narcolepsy, why it is similar to diabetes and what sleep mysteries he wants to solve next. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod