Svante Pääbo wins 2022 Nobel prize in medicine


Swedish paleo geneticist Svante Pääbo was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine on Monday for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution. He is founder of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and serves as an adjunct professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. “He 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. He 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. “This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections.” Pääbo will take home the award sum of 10 million Swedish kronor, which is $901,500. He will also 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. 

Pääbo 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. The peace prize (the most highly anticipated of the awards and the only one announced in Oslo) will follow on Friday, with the economics prize wrapping things up on Oct. 10. 

But The Japan Times states the Nobel Peace Prize that is expected to hold special significance this year. 

Established more than 120 years ago before Europe was ravaged by two world wars, the Nobel Prizes will celebrate those who have “conferred the greatest benefit on mankind” after a year marked by bloodshed and devastation in Ukraine. After Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov won the Peace Prize last year with his Philippine colleague Maria Ressa in the name of freedom of expression, the International Criminal Court, tasked with investigating war crimes in Ukraine, and the International Court of Justice (both based in The Hague) have been mentioned as laureates this year. So have jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. 

Nobel Prize laureates will receive a Nobel Prize diploma, a medal and a document detailing the Nobel Prize amount.