Svante Pääbo

Swedish Geneticist
April 20, 1955 - Present

Mr. Pääbo is a Swedish geneticist specializing in the field of evolutionary genetics. As one of the founders of paleogenetics, he has worked extensively on the neanderthal genome, a discipline that uses the methods of genetics to study early humans and other ancient populations. In 1997, Pääbo and colleagues reported their successful sequencing of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA. Svante Pääbo founded the field of paleogenetics — the study of ancient DNA found in fossils. He was the first scientist to successfully sequence the genome of Neanderthals, a species closely related to modern humans that became extinct about 40,000 years ago. In the process, he discovered that some genes of Neanderthal origin are preserved in the genomes of people today. This implies that the two species must have interbred. In addition to advancing our understanding of Neanderthals and human evolution, Pääbo’s results may shed light on the origin and history of human diseases such as diabetes. ​