The Körber European Science Prize honors outstanding and excellent scientists working in Europe. The prize is awarded to research projects that show great potential for possible application and international impact.
Over recent years, the Körber European Science Prize has developed into a high-ranking European science prize. In the last ten years alone, the Körber Prize winners included six scientists who were later awarded the Nobel Prize.
Prof. Dr. Martin Stratmann
Chairman of the Körber Prize Trustee Committee
Svante Pääbo is to receive the Körber European Science Prize, endowed with 750,000 euros. He is to be honoured for his pioneering achievements in the field of palaeogenetics, of which he is considered the founder. One of Pääbo's most important scientific breakthroughs is the decoding of the Neanderthal genome. His work has revolutionized our understanding of the evolutionary history of modern humans; it has been significantly conducive to the realization that Neanderthals and other extinct human groups have contributed to the ancestry of present-day humans.
Svante Pääbo, 63, studied Egyptology and Medicine at Uppsala University. As a postgraduate, writing his PhD in immunology, he also demonstrated that DNA can survive in ancient Egyptian mummies and thus gained professional fame as a pioneer in the new field of palaeogenetics. Palaeogeneticists study the genomes of ancient organisms and draw conclusions about the course of evolution.
After completing his doctorate, Pääbo worked in the team of evolutionary biologist Allan Wilson at the University of California in Berkeley. From 1990 he headed his own laboratory at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. In 1997 Pääbo became one of five directors at the newly founded Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, where he is still active.
The Körber European Science Prize 2018 was presented to Svante Pääbo on 7 September in the Great Festival Hall of Hamburg Town Hall.