Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo wins Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine

Paabo was awarded for his discoveries in human evolution

Germany Nobel Prize Medicine Swedish scientist Svante Paabo | AP

Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo was awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday. Paabo received the prize for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution. 

The Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine Thomas Perlmann announced the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine during a press conference held at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. 

Through his pioneering research, Svante Paabo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans.

Paabo also made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova. "Importantly, Paabo 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," said the Nobel Committee in a release. 

"Paabo’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 release. 

Paabo was born in 1955, in Stockholm, Sweden. He defended his PhD thesis in 1986 at Uppsala University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Zürich, Switzerland and later at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. He became a Professor at the University of Munich, Germany in 1990. In 1999 he founded the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany where he is still active. He also holds a position as an adjunct Professor at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan.