Swedish paleogeneticist Svante Paabo, who sequenced the genome of the Neanderthal and discovered the previously unknown hominin Denisova, on Monday won the Nobel Medicine Prize.
Paabo’s research gave rise to an entirely new scientific discipline called paleogenomics, and has “generated new understanding of our evolutionary history”, it said.
“By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human”, the Nobel committee said in a statement.
The founder and director of the department of genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Paabo 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”, the jury said.—AFP