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Evolution of the
Nervous System

Prof. Svante Pääbo, PhD
Director of the Genetics Department, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

To better understand who we are, where we came from, and what “makes humans human”, Prof. Pääbo and his colleagues are  creating “miniature brains” genetically engineered to contain Neanderthal DNA.

“Neanderthals are the closest relatives to everyday humans, so if we should define ourselves as a group or a species it is really them that we should compare ourselves to.” – Prof. Svante Pääbo, Director of the genetics department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

These brain organoids are grown with human stem cells, edited to contain “neanderthalized” versions of several genes. The aim is to identify meaningful differences in human neurobiology.

“We’re seeing if we can find basic differences in how nerve cells function that may be a basis for why humans seem to be cognitively so special.”

About the
Lindahl Lecture

Sten Lindahl addressing the Nobel assembly

The Lindahl Lecture was founded in 2013 in honor of Dr. Sten Lindahl, Chair Emeritus of the Nobel Committee in Physiology or Medicine, Professor Emeritus at Karolinska Institutet, and the kindest, most amazing man you’ll ever meet.

The Lindahl Lecture honors  mentorship as the foundation of innovation and scientific advancement.

In keeping with our mission, admission to the Lindahl Lectures are free to all students and researchers with interests in the sciences, innovation and clinical research.

Prior recipients

2017   Warren “Dr. Adventure” Zapol
Life at the Frontier

2016   Dr. Kevin J. Tracey
The Future of Bioelectronic Medicine

2015   Nobel Prize Winner
Dr. Bruce Beutler

2014   Dr. Robert Langer

2013   Dr. Sten Lindahl


August 16, 2019
8:45 am - 9:45 am
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