The New York TimesThe New York Times

Nobel Prize awarded to scientist who sequenced Neanderthal genome

By Benjamin Mueller

03 Oct 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Scientist Svante Paabo was able to sequence a DNA from a 40,000-year-old piece of bone, a task deemed impossible, shining light on the genetic code of our extinct relatives - Neanderthals.

Svante Pääbo, a Swedish scientist who peered back into human history by retrieving genetic material from 40,000-year-old bones, producing a complete Neanderthal genome and launching the field of ancient DNA studies, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday.

The prize recognized an improbable scientific career. Having once dreamed of becoming an Egyptologist, Pääbo devoted his early years of research to extracting genetic material from mummies, only for that research to run aground because the samples might have become contaminated by his and his colleagues’ own DNA.

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