Svante Paböö, Nobel Prize in Medicine for his findings on human evolution

The researcher Svante Pääbo (Stockholm, 1955) has been distinguished with the 2022 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology, as announced by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, for his discoveries on “the extinct hominin genomes and human evolution.

In 2010, the Swedish scientist launched the draft of the Neanderthal genome sequencing project and three years later would publish its final version. While working on the project he discovered, through remains from Siberia, a new type of hominin unknown until now called ‘Denisovan’. He showed that they contributed 5% to the genome of the current inhabitants of Australia and other areas of Oceania.

In 2018, the geneticist received the Princess of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research for his revolutionary work on Neanderthals. In September 2007 he visited the El Sidrón site. “When a boy dreams of becoming a peleontologist this is the kind of place he imagines”, has pointed out. “It is located in a beautiful natural setting. The entrance to the cave is small and hidden. It has served as a refuge for man over the centuries.”

In 2018, the geneticist received the Princess of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research for his revolutionary work on Neanderthals

The biologist pointed out to El Cultural that there are still many gaps when it comes to knowing and recognizing the details of the long history of human evolution: “The ancestral population is still very mysterious to us, even though we believe they lived in Africa and that some of their descendants ended up leaving Africa to become the ancestors of the Neanderthals. Those who were left behind were to become the ancestors of the people living today. Calculating when these two groups split using DNA sequence differences is a difficult proposition, much more so than calculating the time that the DNA sequences shared common ancestors.”

[¿Revivir neandertales?]

“The Neanderthals – he explains in his book Neanderthal man Svante Pääbo (Stockholm, 1955).- They are the closest evolutionary relatives of all contemporary humans. Studying how we differ genetically from our closest relatives could allow us to discover what changes separated the ancestors of modern humans from all other organisms on the planet. We would be studying perhaps the most fundamental part of human history.”

Last year, the prestigious award went to researchers David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, the discoverers of the cell receptors that humans use to sense temperature and touch. The Nobel prizes are endowed with 10 million Swedish crowns ($900,000) per category. The prizes will be awarded on the anniversary of Nobel’s death on December 10.

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