ISCB congratulates Svante Pääbo on his award of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.
The prize recognises the novel and innovative molecular and computational methods developed by Pääbo and his team for the recovery and analysis of DNA from ancient remains, with the Nobel committee noting that the work has been possible due to “a combination of an in-depth understanding of ancient DNA degradation, high throughput DNA sequencing technologies, and powerful computational resources”. Among the researchers in Pääbo’s team is computational biologist and ISCB Director and Treasurer, Janet Kelso, who has been at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig since 2004. She and her group have been instrumental in establishing the bioinformatics infrastructure required for the reliable reconstruction of ancient genomes and for the development of custom software for ancient DNA analysis, as well as studying the patterns and effects of introgressed Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of modern humans. The team at the MPI-EVA places high importance on the public availability of genome sequence data and have consistently ensured that the genomes that they have obtained from the ancient humans are freely and openly available to the community.