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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 (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.


Contact: Katharine Zambon
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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