Hebrew University discovery named Science Magazine’s 2019 People’s Choice for Breakthrough of the Year

December 20, 2019 by Tali Aronsky
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In September, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers Prof. Liran Carmel and Dr. David Gokhman captivated the science world with their reconstruction of a Denisovan, the mysterious human species that lived 100,000 years ago but disappeared.  Now, Science magazine has named their discovery the 2019 People’s Choice for Breakthrough of the Year.

Hebrew U’s Prof. Liran Carmel and Maayan Harel’s rendering of a young female Denisovan.  Credit: Hebrew University

Carmel’s and Gokhman’s model relied on DNA from the barest of remains – just a pinky bone – and gave the world a glimpse of this nearly unknown ancestor of modern-day humans.  After an initial round of competition that included more than 23,000 votes, Carmel—the only Israeli researcher to be nominated—made it to the final round and ultimately prevailed over three other finalists.

Carmel shared, “We are deeply moved by this honour and grateful to those who supported us.  It’s amazing how scientific discoveries—even those relating to people who lived more than 100,000 years ago—still captivate the imagination of folks around the world”.


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