Swedish scientist Svante Pääbo won this year's Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for his discoveries on human evolution that provided key insights into our immune system and what makes us unique compared with our extinct cousins, the award's panel said. The prize was announced in Stockholm by Thomas Perlmann, Secretary of the Nobel Committee. Pääbo has spearheaded the development of new techniques that allowed researchers to compare the genome of modern humans and that of other hominins - the Neanderthals and Denisovans. While Neanderthal bones were first discovered in the mid-19th century, only by unlocking their DNA - often referred to as the code of life - have scientists been able to fully understand the links between species. This transfer of genes between hominin species affects how the immune system of modern humans reacts to infections, such as the coronavirus. "The small differences between these extinct human forms and us, as humans today, will provide important insights into how our body functions and how our brain has developed and so forth," said Nobel Assembly member, Nils-Göran Larsson. About 1-2% of people outside Africa have Neanderthal genes. Pääbo, 67, performed his prizewinning studies in Germany at the University of Munich and at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Pääbo is the son of Sune Bergstrom, who won the Nobel prize in medicine in 1982. The medicine prize kicked off a week of Nobel Prize announcements. It continues Tuesday with the physics prize, with chemistry on Wednesday and literature on Thursday. The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on October 10.