Svante Pääbo has been awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for ‘his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution’, which means his work helped better understand how we, human beings, have evolved.
The secretary of the Nobel Committee Thomas Perlmann announced the winner on Monday at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
The award for medicine is the first to be announced, kicking off a week of Nobel Prize announcements. On Tuesday, the Nobel Prize winner for achievements in the field of Physics will be announced followed by Chemistry on Wednesday and Literature on Thursday. The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday followed by the Nobel Prize for Economics on October 10.
The Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian in 2021 for their discoveries into how the human body perceives temperature and touch.
BREAKING NEWS: The 2022 #NobelPrize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Svante Pääbo “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.” pic.twitter.com/fGFYYnCO6J— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 3, 2022
Born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1955, Paabo worked on his Nobel Prize winning research project at the University of Munich and at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, the Deutsche Welle said in a report.
The Swedish researcher sequenced the genome of the Neanderthal and also discovered the previously unknown hominin Denisova and his work pointed out the changes which differentiated us from our closest cousins.
Pääbo discovered a previously unknown hominin, which was given the name Denisova, after a 40,000-year-old fragment from a finger bone was discovered in the Denisova cave in the southern part of Siberia in 2008. Paabo’s team sequenced the exceptionally well-preserved DNA found in the bone.
By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human", the Nobel committee said after awarding Paabo.
“Pääbo’s discoveries have generated new understanding of our evolutionary history," the Committee further added in a press release.
The Swedish researcher is also credited with discovering an entirely new scientific discipline called paleogenomics. His discoveries have made it possible for us to understand that archaic gene sequences from our extinct relatives have influenced our own physiology.
Pääbo’s seminal work also helped identify genetic differences between Homo sapiens and our closest extinct relatives, before that those differences were relatively unknown.