2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for Svante Pääbo
Sequencing of ancient DNA and genomes honoured as scientific breakthrough
One of the 2016 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences was bestowed to Max Planck director Svante Pääbo for pioneering the sequencing of ancient DNA and ancient genomes, thereby illuminating the origins of modern humans, our relationships to extinct relatives such as Neanderthals, and the evolution of human populations and traits. The seven prizes, each endowed with 3 Million US dollars, were awarded on 8 November in Silicon Valley, USA.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1955, Svante Pääbo studied Egyptology, Russian and history of science at the University of Uppsala from 1975 and medicine from 1977, before earning his doctorate in cell biology in 1986. He continued his research at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Molecular Biology II, at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London and in the Biochemistry Department at the University of California in Berkeley. Pääbo came to Germany in 1990, where he was initially Professor of General Biology and Zoology at LMU Munich. Since 1997 he has headed the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.
The Breakthrough Prize was initiated in 2012 by Sergey Brin (Google) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), among others. The prize was created to honour great scientists and their ground-breaking discoveries in the research areas Life Sciences, Physics and Mathematics.