By Sheryll Poe
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo, in recognition of his work using genetic analysis on ancient DNA to uncover a direct descendant of two different groups of early humans.
“The work of Svante Pääbo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, led to the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome and the discovery of a new group of hominins called the Denisovans, and also spawned the fiercely competitive field of palaeogenomics,” according to Nature.
“Pääbo pioneered the now-booming field of ancient DNA research. He was the first to successfully retrieve and sequence bits of ancient DNA from a Neanderthal in 1997,” Science noted. “His research has offered insights into the genetic evolution of modern humans, including a better understanding of disease risks.”
It’s unusual for a single scientist to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine—it’s usually awarded to teams.
Read “Geneticist who unmasked lives of ancient humans wins medicine Nobel” in Nature and “Ancient DNA pioneer Svante Pääbo wins Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine” in Science