Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for discoveries that underpin our understanding of how modern day people evolved from extinct ancestors at the dawn of human history.
Paabo’s work demonstrated practical implications during the COVID-19 pandemic when he found that people infected with the virus who carry a gene variant inherited from Neanderthals are more at risk of severe illness than whose who do not, reports Reuters. Paabo, director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, won the prize for “discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution,” the Award committee said.
“The thing that’s amazing to me is that you now have some ability to go back in time and actually follow genetic history and genetic changes over time,” Paabo told a news conference at the Max Planck Institute. “It’s a possibility to begin to actually look on evolution in real time, if you like.”
Paabo, 67, said he thought the call from Sweden was a prank or something to do with his summer house there