[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 16-Feb-2011
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Contact: Katharine Zambon
kzambon@aaas.org
202-326-6434
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Draft sequence of Neandertal genome wins the 2010 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, supported by Affymetrix

Composed of more than 4 billion nucleotides, a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome won the 2010 Newcomb Cleveland Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The Association's oldest prize, now supported by Affymetrix, the Newcomb Cleveland Prize annually recognizes the author or authors of an outstanding paper published in the Research Articles or Reports sections of the journal Science between June and the following May.

A Science paper by Richard E. Green, David Reich, Svante Paabo, and colleagues will receive the AAAS prize for 2010. It was originally published online 7 May 2010.

The Neandertals are the closest evolutionary relatives of present-day humans. They first appeared in European fossil records about 400,000 years ago and they lived in Europe and Western Asia, traveling as far east as Southern Siberia, and as far south as the Middle East.

Neandertals first came into contact with modern humans about 80,000 years ago in the Middle East before later encounters in Europe and Asia. Progressively more distinctive Neandertal forms evolved over time before they disappeared about 30,000 years ago.

A 38,000 year-old bone fragment was used to obtain intact genomic material and put together the draft sequence presented in the paper. The Neandertal genome sequence was compared to the genomes of five present-day humans from different parts of the world. It indicates that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans from Eurasia than with present-day humans from sub-Saharan Africa. This finding suggests that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before Eurasian groups diverged from each other.

"The draft Neandertal genome sequence marks an incredible step forward in our perceptions of our closest hominid cousins," Science Editor-in-Chief Bruce Alberts said. "This remarkable paper is a fundamental intellectual contribution as well as a stunning technical achievement and it will continue to be referenced and studied for years to come."

The Green, Reich, and Paabo paper, "A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome" can be found online at http://bit.ly/eP8Ju5. (Please note that the article is freely accessible, but initial registration may be required.)

The prize was established in 1923 with funds donated by Newcomb Cleveland of New York City and was originally called the AAAS Thousand Dollar Prize. It is now known as the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, and its value has been raised to $25,000. The winner also receives a bronze medal, complimentary registration and reimbursement for reasonable travel and hotel expenses to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting. Eligible Science papers include original research data, theory, or synthesis. They should represent a fundamental contribution to basic knowledge, or a technical achievement of far-reaching consequence. Winning nominations also should be a first-time publication of the author's own work.

The 2009-2010 Newcomb Cleveland Prize Selection Committee included the Science Editor-in-Chief as well as John I. Brauman of Stanford University, Brooks Hanson, Science Deputy Editor, Physical Sciences, Andrew Sugden, Science Deputy Editor, Biological Sciences, Michael S. Turner of the University of Chicago and the Science Senior Editorial Board, and AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of Science.

The Newcomb Cleveland Price will be awarded in the Grand Ballroom North, Washington Renaissance Downtown, on Saturday, 19 February at 6:00 p.m.

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CONTACTS: Richard E. Green can be reached through Tim Stephens at the University of California- Santa Cruz at (831) 459-4352 or stephens@ucsc.edu. David Reich can be reached through David Cameron at (617) 432-0441 or david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu. Svante Paabo can be reached through Sandra Jacob at +49 (0) 341 3550‑122 or jacob@eva.mpg.de. For general information on the AAAS Awards ceremony or other background, Senior Communications Officer Kat Zambon of AAAS can be reached at (202) 326-6434 or kzambon@aaas.org.

About AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org) as well as Science Translational Medicine (www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org) and Science Signaling (www.sciencesignaling.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

About Affymetrix

Affymetrix, Inc. added its support to the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 2003, helping to more than double the prize's monetary value. Affymetrix Founder and Executive Chairman Stephen P.A. Fodor, Ph.D., and his colleagues were awarded the Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 1991 for their landmark publication which first introduced microarray technology to the scientific community. ("Light-directed, spatially addressable parallel chemical synthesis," with co-authors J. Read, M.C. Pirrung, L. Stryer, A.Lu, and D. Solas, Science, 15 February 1991.)

"Receiving the Newcomb Cleveland Award in 1991 was the first important public acknowledgment of our invention," says Fodor. "Today, the award remains one of our most valued. Affymetrix is thrilled to support its continued legacy. It is important to recognize and encourage the innovative work of new scientists as their work will become the foundation for future research and discovery."

Affymetrix is a pioneer in creating breakthrough tools that are driving the genomic revolution. By applying the principles of semiconductor technology to the life sciences, Affymetrix develops and commercializes systems that enable scientists to improve quality of life. The Company's customers include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agrichemical, diagnostics, and consumer products companies as well as academic, government, and other non-profit research institutes. Affymetrix offers an expanding portfolio of integrated products and services to address growing markets focused on understanding the relationship between genes and human health. Affymetrix has about 1,000 employees worldwide.


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