Director, Max Planck Institute For Evolutionary Anthropology
Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Professor Svante Pääbo, PhD  is known as one of the founders of paleogenetics, a discipline that uses the methods of genetics to study early humans and other ancient populations. In 1997, Dr. Pääbo and colleagues reported their successful sequencing of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).

Dr. Pääbo has developed techniques and approaches that allow DNA sequences from archaeological and paleontological remains to be determined. This has allowed ancient DNA from extinct organisms, humans, animals and pathogens to be studied. He determined a high-quality Neandertal genome sequence, allowing for the reconstruction of the recent evolutionary history of our species and the realization that Neandertals contributed DNA to present-day humans who live outside Africa. By studying DNA sequences from a small Siberian bone he discovered Denisovans, a previously unknown hominin group distantly related to Neandertals. He also works on the comparative and functional genomics of humans and apes, particularly the evolution of genetic features such as the FOXP2 ‘speech and language’ gene that may underlie aspects of traits specific to humans.

Svante Pääbo has received several honorary doctorates and scientific prizes and is a member of numerous academies. He is currently a Director at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.


1992  Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft,
the highest honor awarded in German research

2005  the prestigious Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

2009  Kistler Prize from the Foundation for the Future

2010  Theodor Bücher Medal for outstanding achievements in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,  Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS)

2013  Gruber Prize in Genetics

2017  Dan David Prize

2018  Princess of Asturias Awards in the category of Scientific Research

2019  Lindahl Lecture, the Napa Pain Conference

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