The first of this year’s Nobel Prizes went to Svante Pääbo. The Karolinska Institutet committee has awarded the researchers “for advances in the genomes of extinct hominids in human evolution”.
An award for evolution.
This year’s award in Physiology and Medicine has gone to an expert in unraveling the secrets of human evolution. Swedish researcher Svante Pääbo faced the difficult challenge of studying the genetics of hominins that disappeared tens of thousands of years ago.
Decipher human evolution.
Pääbo’s work has laid the foundations for a scientific discipline in itself: peleogenomics. This discipline tries to understand the genetic evolution that has led us to become what we are today: Homo sapiens. Our current genetic configuration is nothing more than the inheritance of millions of years of evolution between different species such as Neanderthals and Denisovans.
Some favorites from this year.
Some bets for this year pointed to the American geneticist Mary-Claire King, in tandem with the also American Dennis Slamon and the German Axel Ullrich. Her work was key to the development of the monoclonal antibody-based cancer therapy Trastuzumab.
Another of the important names this year was that of Katalin Karikó, pioneer of mRNA vaccines, essential to stop the Covid pandemic but whose potential applications would be immense.
The Nobel Prize in Medicine.
This Nobel prize is chosen each year by the specific committee of the Swedish Karolinska Institutet. Since 1901, 224 people have received this award (only 12 of them women, the first in 1947 and the most recent in 2015). Honorees include Frederick G. Banting, the youngest person to receive the award (he was 32 in 1923), and Peyton Rous, who in 1966 became the oldest person to receive the award. She was 87 years old.
Like the rest of the Nobel prizes that are awarded this week, the prize in physiology and medicine is delivered following the dictates of the Swedish inventor. Referring to one of the parts in which this inheritance was divided, he pointed out that the part would go “to the person who has made the most important discovery in the discipline of physiology or medicine.”
A touch award in 2021.
This year’s laureates follow in the footsteps of David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, who won the 2021 Nobel Prize in medicine for “their discoveries of temperature and touch receptors.”
Today’s is the first of this year’s Nobel Prize winners. Tomorrow, Tuesday, will be followed by the prize in physics, on Wednesday in chemistry and on Thursday in literature. The week will close with the Nobel Peace Prize and on Monday the 10th it is expected that the prize in economic sciences will be awarded in honor of Alfred Nobel.
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