The Nobel Prize in Medicine 2022 was awarded to Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.
Pääbo's research gave rise to an entirely new scientific discipline called paleogenomics, according to the Nobel Prize committee.
"Through his pioneering research, Svante Pääbo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans," said the academy.
The panel added that Pääbo also made the discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova. In addition Pääbo also found that gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens after the migration out of Africa around 70K years ago.
"This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections," the academy cited.
The committee noted that by revealing genetic differences which distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, Pääbo's discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human.