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W&L’s Ayoub Presents Nobel Prize Symposium Talk Nadia Ayoub, professor of biology, will discuss this year’s Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Nadia-Ayoub-scaled-600x400 W&L’s Ayoub Presents Nobel Prize Symposium Talk

Nadia Ayoub, professor of biology at Washington and Lee University, will present on the 2022 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine awarded to Svante Pääbo. The talk will be held on Feb. 8 at 12:15 p.m. in the Harte Center, room 128, located in Leyburn Library.

“I love getting a deep dive on the work that the Nobel laureates have done from a colleague,” Ayoub said. “Now that I’m the one explaining the groundings of paleogenomics and why it matters, I hope to offer something novel while making sure I’m describing the work in a way that is accessible to people unfamiliar with the field.”

Pääbo is being honored for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution. His seminal work provides a foundation for understanding what makes us uniquely human and his research answers questions about our origins, like where we come from and how we are related to those who came before us.

Early in his career, Pääbo began to develop methods to sequence DNA from Neanderthals, which allows researchers to study the relationship between Neanderthals and modern-day humans from different parts of the world. These advancements in turn can help the scientific community better understand human evolution and migration. Pääbo’s groundbreaking research established a new scientific discipline, paleogenomics, and his discoveries have helped us understand how archaic gene sequences from our extinct relatives influence the physiology of present-day humans.

Pääbo also discovered a previously unknown hominin when he ran a DNA sequence on a 40,000-year-old bone fragment found in the Denisova cave in the southern part of Siberia. Pääbo discovered that the DNA sequence of the hominin, named Denisova, was unique when compared to all known sequences from Neanderthals and present-day humans. However, comparisons with contemporary humans showed gene flow between Denisova and Homo sapiens, generating a new understanding of our evolutionary history.

Learn more about the research behind Pääbo’s award here.