On October 3, 2022, it was announced that The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Svante Pääbo, PhD, for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution. Humanity has always been intrigued by its origins. Where do we come from, and how are we related to those who came before us? What makes us, Homo sapiens, different from other hominins? Through his pioneering research, Dr. Pääbo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans. He also made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova. Importantly, Dr. Pääbo also found that gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens following the migration out of Africa around 70,000 years ago. This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections. Dr. Pääbo’s seminal research gave rise to an entirely new scientific discipline; paleogenomics. By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human. Svante Pääbo was born 1955 in Stockholm, Sweden. He defended his PhD thesis in 1986 at Uppsala University and was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Zürich, Switzerland and later at University of California, Berkeley, USA. He became Professor at the University of Munich, Germany in 1990. In 1999, he founded the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany where he is still active. He also holds a position as adjunct Professor at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan. Click on Read More to find additional information on the work leading to Dr. Pääbo’s prestigious award.
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