The Nobel Prize is given to those whose work has had the greatest benefit to humankind in the preceding year.
Here is everything you need to know about the scientist including who he is and what led to his Nobel Prize win.
Who is Svante Pääbo?
Svante PPääbo, 67, is a Swedish geneticist and a founder of paleogenetics.
He was born in Sweden as the son of a chemist mother and a biochemist father.
Winning Nobel Prizes runs in Pääbo’s family, with his father, Sune Bergström, winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine alongside his colleagues in 1982.
Following his studies, Pääbo was one of the scientists that created the study of paleogenetics, which uses genetics knowledge to study early humans and other ancient populations.
Over the years, the Swedish scientist has worked on a number of research projects, including the discovery of a “language gene”.
In 2006, Dr Pääbo announced that he had decided to reconstruct the entire genome of Neanderthals, a genome that had never been sequenced before.
In 2007, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year.
While busy working on the Neanderthals’ genome, Pääbo and his colleagues also studied a finger bone found in Siberia’s Denisova Cave, which led to the discovery of the previously unknown Denisova hominin, an extinct species of archaic humans.
As his work concerning Neanderthals developed, he published the book Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes.
In 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic took over the world, Pääbo and his colleagues began studying the relationships between genetic variants and Covid-19 symptoms.
What led to Svante Pääbo’s Nobel Prize win?
The Swedish geneticist was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for “his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution”.
The Nobel Assembly explained their decision, saying: “Through his pioneering research, Svante Pääbo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, and extinct relative of present-day humans.
“He also made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova.
“Importantly, Pääbo also found that gene transfer has 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.”