Swedish scientist Svante Paabo on Monday won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discoveries about the evolution of the human race, the award-giving body said.

“Through his pioneering research, Svante Paabo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans,” the Nobel committee said in a statement.

It added that Paabo also made the “sensational discovery” of a previously unknown human species, Denisova, from a 40,000-year-old fragment of a finger bone discovered in Siberia.

“Importantly, Paabo also found that gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens following the migration out of Africa around 70,000 years ago,” the award-giving body said. “This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections.”

Born in 1955 in Sweden’s Stockholm, Paabo is a postdoctoral fellow from the University of Zurich and the University of California. In 1999 he founded the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany’s Leipzig, where he is still active.

The 67-year-old is the son of Sune Bergstrom, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1982.

This is the first Nobel Prize to be awarded this year. The other awards are given in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics.

The Nobel Prize in Medicine is awarded by the Nobel Assembly of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($900,357). The prizes will be handed out on December 10.

Last year, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded jointly to American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discovery of receptors that allow humans to feel temperature and touch.