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?
Svante Pääbo, the Paleo Geneticist and Evolutionary Anthropologist is the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. His remarkable discoveries, which include the identification of a previously unknown variety of human who lived alongside modern humans and Neanderthals tens of thousands of years ago, have had a revolutionary impact on our understanding of human evolution. The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Svante Pääbo “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.”
Through his pioneering research, Svante 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, 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.
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.
Read the press release here : https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/2022/press-release/