Nobel Prize in Physiology, 2022

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Swedish scientist Svante Pääbo has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology for the year 2022 “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution”.


  • He has spearheaded the development of new techniques that allowed researchers to compare the genome of modern humans and that of other hominins — the Neanderthals and Denisovans.
  • He spent decades trying to extract DNA from 40,000-year-old bones, culminating in the unveiling of the Neanderthal genome in 2010.
  • The research helped establish that modern humans and Neanderthals share a common ancestor that lived some 600,000 years ago. Paabo and his team also found genetic evidence that, during periods of coexistence, modern humans and Neanderthals had children together.
  • His seminal research gave rise to an entirely new scientific discipline; paleogenomics. 
  • His research led to the understanding that archaic gene sequences from our extinct relatives influence the physiology of present-day humans.
    • One such example is the Denisovan version of the gene EPAS1, which confers an advantage for survival at high altitude and is common among present-day Tibetans.
    • Other examples are Neanderthal genes that affect our immune response to different types of infections.

Source : The Hindu