Svante Pääbo, who has worked extensively on the Neanderthal genome, was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries on human evolution.

Pääbo, who was born in Stockholm, grew up with his mother, Estonian chemist Karin Pääbo. His father was biochemist Sune Bergström, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Bengt I. Samuelsson and John R. Vane in 1982.

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The 67-year-old earned his PhD from Uppsala University in 1986 for research investigating how the E19 protein of adenoviruses modulates the immune system.

He is best known as one of the founders of paleogenetics, a discipline that uses the methods of genetics to study early humans.

In 1997, Pääbo and his colleagues reported their successful sequencing of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The DNA originated from a specimen found in Feldhofer grotto in the Neander valley.

He was appointed director of the Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany in 1997. 

In 2005, he received the prestigious Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine. In 2006, he announced a plan to reconstruct the entire genome of Neanderthals.

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He published the book Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes in 2014. In the book, he tells the story of the research effort to map the Neanderthal genome. In the book, he also revealed that he is bisexual. Elaborating about his sexuality, Pääbo said that initially he thought he was gay until he met Linda Vigilant, an American primatologist and geneticist. The two co-authored many papers. They are married and raising a son and a daughter together in Leipzig.

He is also professor at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan.