Sweden’s Svante Paabo Wins 2022 Nobel Prize In Medicine
Swedish paleogeneticist Svante Paabo was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine on Monday “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution,” kicking off a week of winner announcements held under the shadow of the bloody war in Ukraine.
Paabo, founder of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, and who also serves as an adjunct professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, accomplished “something seemingly impossible” through his pioneering research, the Nobel committee said: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans.
Paabo, who made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova, 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, the committee said.
“This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections.”
Paabo, 67, who takes home the award sum of 10 million Swedish kronor ($901,500), will receive the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel, who created the prizes in his last will and testament.
Last year, the prize went to U.S. researchers David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries on human receptors for temperature and touch.
Paabo is the son of Sune Bergstrom, a Swede who won the 1982 Nobel Medicine Prize for discovering prostaglandins, which are biochemical compounds that influence blood pressure, body temperature, allergic reactions and other physiological phenomena.
In a 2014 interview with The Guardian, Paabo said he was the result of a secret extramarital affair and that Bergstrom’s “official” family knew nothing of the existence of him or his mother, the Estonian chemist Karin Paabo, until after Bergstrom’s death in 2005.