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Darwin Day, Heroes of Evolution: Svante Pääbo
February 12 @ 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PSTFree
Heroes of Evolution: Svante Pääbo
Abstract: Much of science is about pushing the boundaries of technology to build the future. However, in some cases the frontiers of technical achievement are used to unlock the secrets of the past. In the area of paleobiology, no one exemplifies this more than Svante Pääbo. Pääbo is a Swedish molecular biologist who developed DNA analytical techniques to sequence ancient DNA. He was able to illuminate the genomes of extinct species like the mammoth, sloth, and ancient human cousins the Neanderthals. Along the way, he discovered a new species of hominin, the Denisovans. The greatest surprise was that signatures of Neanderthal and Denisovan genes are found in humans. Understanding the genetic history, comparative genomics, and evolutionary impact of humans along with their extinct cousins has led to several interesting conclusions about genes that impact the human condition and health. For this reason, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2022 for his work. This talk gives an overview of Svante Pääbo’s career and impact in paleobiology.