Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo wins Nobel Prize for Medicine | Five facts

Published on Oct 04, 2022 11:39 AM IST

Pääbo's father, Sune Bergstrom, is also a Nobel prize winner in medicine in 1982 making this win - the eighth time when the child of a Nobel laureate also won a Nobel Prize.

Swedish scientist Svante Paabo stands by a replica of a Neanderthal skeleton at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Monday.(AP)
Swedish scientist Svante Paabo stands by a replica of a Neanderthal skeleton at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Monday.(AP)
By | Edited by Sohini Goswami

The Swedish Nobel Prize committee awarded the 2022 prize for medicine or physiology to Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo. He was given the award “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.”

Here are five things about the Swedish scientist:

1. Pääbo, 67, won the Nobel for sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct but closest evolutionary relative of present-day humans. He conducted his studies at the University of Munich and Max Planck Institute.

2. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, he has also studied Egyptology and Medicine at Uppsala University. Previously, Pääbo was able to demonstrate that DNA can survive in ancient Egyptian mummies, which made him a pioneer of the new field of palaeogenetics research - investigating the genomes to draw conclusions about the course of evolution.

3. He is also known for his discovery of an unknown hominin, Denisova, discovered by studying DNA from a tiny finger bone found in a cave in Siberia. Through Pääbo’s discoveries it has been found that at least two extinct hominin populations inhabited Eurasia - Neanderthals and Denisovans. Homo sapiens had moved out of Africa around 70,000 years ago.

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4. Pääbo has sequenced a region of mitochondrial DNA from a 40,000-year-old piece of bone - making it historical for humans to have access to a sequence from an extinct relative. His discovery about gene transfer from extinct hominins has physiological relevance - like teaching us how our immune system reacts to infections.

5. Max Planck Institute in their press release lauded the Swedish geneticist saying his discoveries provide the basis for exploring ‘what makes us uniquely human.’ Pääbo's father, Sune Bergstrom, is also a Nobel prize winner in medicine in 1982 making this win - the eighth time when the child of a Nobel laureate also won a Nobel Prize.

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    Trainee Content Producer for Hindustan Times Digital Streams. I read about feminism, late modern history, and globalisation of Korean music.

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