Svante Paabo Awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the year 2022 has been awarded to 67-year-old Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution” at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on the 3rd of October.
The Nobel Committee said in its citation, Pääbo “accomplished something seemingly impossible” when he sequenced the first Neanderthal genome and revealed that Homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals.
His discovery was made public in 2010 after Pääbo pioneered methods to extract, sequence and analyze ancient DNA from bones of Neanderthal, a modern human’s cousin species that went extinct about 30,000 years ago.
With the help of his findings, scientists can now compare Neanderthal genomes with the genetic records of humans living today and his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human.
He also made the startling discovery of a new kind of extinct human called Denisovans after the name of the cave. He found that gene transfer had occurred from Denisovans to Homo sapiens.
This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, even affecting how our immunity works towards infections. Since 1997, He has been working as the director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany and is an Honorary Research Fellow at London’s Natural History Museum.
Katerina Douka, an assistant professor of archaeological science at the University of Vienna who collaborates with Pääbo, told CNN that his work on ancient DNA was as revolutionary to archaeology as the advent of radiocarbon dating, which won a Nobel Prize in 1960.
He further added “He invented the field. He unlocked so many secrets about human evolution,”.
Last year’s recipients in the same field were David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch.