The Nobel Prize in medicine to the archaeologists of human

The Nobel Prize in medicine to the archaeologists of human evolution

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded exclusively to 67-year-old Swede Svante Paabo for his discoveries of the hominid genome. Born in Stockholm on April 20, 1955, Paabo can be considered kind of a DNA archaeologist. In fact, it opened up a new field of research, paleogenomics.

Pääbo is credited with overcoming one of the greatest scientific challenges concurrently with new weapons. In fact, it was the first to bring genetics into a field like paleontology, which until then was based on the study of fossils or very old artifacts. Thanks to new genetic technologies Pääbo was among the pioneers in extracting DNA from fossils and analyzing it. The research he coordinates sheds new light on human evolution, even revolutionizing the study of it.

We owe him, for example, the analysis of Neanderthal DNAwho revealed that Homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals and that some genes from these human cousins ​​are still present in the genomes of almost all contemporary populations.

We also owe his research the discovery of an ancient human population, the Denisovans, who were also interbred with Homo sapiens about 70,000 years ago: The starting point for the reconstruction of his story was a bone fragment found in a cave in the Altai Mountains.

The academic career
After studying at the University of Uppsala, Pääbo, he first moved to the University of Zurich, then to the American University of Berkeley and later to the German University of Munich. In 1999 he founded the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, where he currently works. He is also a lecturer in Japan at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and a member of renowned academies such as the Royal Society, the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. , the French Academy of Sciences. the Leopoldina and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

Numerous international awards, including the Max Delbrück Medal, the Theodor Bücher Medal (Febs), the Louis Jeantet Prize (Geneva) and the Japan Prize (Tokyo).

Lincei, “well deserved” award

The Nobel Prize in Medicine goes to the founder of paleogenetics, the Swede Svante Pääbo: This is how the President of the Accademia dei Lincei, Roberto Antonelli, and the Vice-President Giorgio Parisi comment on the recognition that has been awarded to a member of the Academy for two consecutive years. Last year, Parisi even received an award for physics.

“A well-deserved Nobel Prize for a great scientist who we can welcome as a foreign member of the Accademia dei Lincei,” say Antonelli and Parisi. “Reconstructing ancient genomes, they add, has been a fascinating adventure that has enabled us to reconstruct human history and relationships with our extinct brethren, the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.”

For paleontologist Giorgio Manzi of Rome’s Sapienza University and Accedemia dei Lincei, a Nobel Prize for research in biology and human evolution is “a major achievement for a small scientific community”.