Svante Pääbo, Ph.D., Director, Department of Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
What can we learn from the genes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Come hear the story of geneticist Svante Pääbo's mission to answer that question, beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in his sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2009. From Pääbo, learn how Neanderthal genes offer a unique window into the lives of our hominin relatives and may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of why humans survived while Neanderthals went extinct. Drawing on genetic and fossil clues, Pääbo explores what is known about the origin of modern humans and their relationship to the Neanderthals and describes the fierce debate surrounding the nature of the two species' interactions. A riveting story about a visionary researcher and the nature of scientific inquiry, Pääbo offers rich insight into the fundamental question of who we are.