Pääbo's Evolution Research Wins Nobel Prize for Medicine

Photo: snopes

The Facts

  • Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo on Monday was named the winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work sequencing the first Neanderthal genome to reveal that Homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals.

  • Pääbo, whose work was first made public in 2010, has emerged as a leader in extracting, sequencing, and analyzing ancient DNA from Neanderthal bones. His research has proven that current humans share 1-4% of their DNA with Neanderthals.

The Spin

Narrative A

It’s great that the Nobel committee is willing to expand its reach beyond the traditional categories of medicine, physiology, and chemistry to award a distinguished researcher like Pääbo this award. His work directly provides a window into understanding questions of health and disease by shedding light on the deep history of human ancestry.

Narrative B

Granted, Pääbo's research is fascinating and there is even some application to our struggle to understand COVID. However, the COVID pandemic is the health crisis of our time - without the mRNA vaccines, who knows how much more death and illness there would be right now? Awarding the prize to those who have helped to address death and suffering for millions is long overdue.

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