The Swedish geneticist won the honor for his 'discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.'
The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to the Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo on Monday for his "discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution." Pääbo, who is an evolutionary geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, led groundbreaking work on ancient DNA that helped change our understanding of human origins, reports The Washington Post. He sequenced the genome of long-extinct Neanderthals from 40,000-year-old bone fragments, a feat described as a "seemingly impossible task" by Anna Wedell, a member of the Nobel committee.
Say good morning to our new medicine laureate Svante Pääbo!— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 3, 2022
Pääbo received the news while enjoying a cup of coffee. After the shock wore off, one of the first things he wondered was if he could share the news with his wife, Linda.
Photo: Linda Vigilant pic.twitter.com/l27hnzojaL
In a recorded interview posted by the Nobel website, the 67-year-old revealed that he learned he had won the prize in a midmorning phone call from the Nobel committee shortly before he was set to depart to pick up his daughter from an overnight stay with her nanny. He added that he initially suspected the call from Sweden was someone calling about the upkeep of his small summer house there. "He was overwhelmed. He was speechless, very happy," said Thomas Perlmann, secretary of the Nobel Assembly. "He was incredibly thrilled about this award."
2022 #NobelPrize laureate in physiology or medicine Svante Pääbo was born in 1955 in Stockholm, Sweden.— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 3, 2022
In 1999 he founded the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany (@MPI_EVA_Leipzig) where he is still active.https://t.co/w31ccQ5218 pic.twitter.com/SQveQE3AZL
Since the announcement, many have taken to social media to congratulate the geneticist for his achievements. Among them was the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology which shared a video of the warm welcome Pääbo received upon returning to work after winning the prestigious award. "This morning, everyone @MPI_EVA_Leipzig joined in to welcome and congratulate our very own #NobelPrize laureate, Svante Pääbo, one of our institute's founding directors and brilliant mind! We are totally ecstatic and delighted," the institute wrote in the tweet accompanying the video.
This morning, everyone @MPI_EVA_Leipzig joined in to welcome and congratulate our very own #NobelPrize laureate, Svante Pääbo, one of our institute's founding directors and brilliant mind! We are totally ecstatic and delighted! 😊🥳🥰 @maxplanckpress @NobelPrize pic.twitter.com/gi3PifPUl2— MPI-EVA Leipzig (@MPI_EVA_Leipzig) October 4, 2022
The video, which has racked up more than 85,000 views since being posted on Tuesday, shows Pääbo entering the building to cheers and applause from his colleagues. He walks in with a huge smile on his face and bows down to show his gratitude for their warm reception. The clip touched the hearts of many online with one Twitter user writing: "I am so thrilled that the much awaited, much deserved and long due honor came this year. I'm so fortunate to have met him and listen to him interact with students and researchers, sitting on the floor, when I was a visiting scholar at MPI in 2015. Congratulations to you all!"
"Oh my. The double-checking before he comes into the building. He looks so delighted and slightly shocked. Lovely," tweeted another. "Aww, this is cute," wrote a third while several others also bombarded the comments section with "congratulations." Pääbo’s father, biochemist Sune Bergström, shared a Nobel Prize with two other scientists forty years earlier. The Swedish geneticist had revealed in his biography, "Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes" that he was the "secret extramarital son" of Bergstrom. He said Monday that he wished he could share the news of his Nobel Prize with his mother. "The biggest influence in life was my mother, with whom I grew up," Pääbo said. "It makes me a bit sad she can't experience this day."