News & events


So, where do you think you come from? Genetic Heritage and Reconstructing the Past through DNA

21 September 2012
12:15 - 14:00

Presented by Prof Himla Soodyall, Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit, NHLS and Wits University
Venues in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town (Videoconferencing facilities: see below)
Date: 21 September 2012
Time: 12H15 – 14H00  
Most of us can name our grandparents, many our great-grandparents and some our great great-grandparents. Beyond this, for the vast majority of us, the past is unknown. Where did we come from? Where and when did our ancestors live? When did humans first inhabit different parts of the world?

Professor Soodyall’s research has contributed to writing the history of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa using the language of the genes. The words to this text are encrypted in the four letters, A (Adenine), C (Cytosine), G (Guanine), and T (Thymine), which are organised in various combinations making up the total human genome. To unravel the words, her group has examined the DNA collected from many volunteers throughout sub-Saharan Africa and has untangled many stories that trace back to around 150,000 years.

Our genetic heritage contributes significantly in understanding our past and has a huge role to play in contributing towards building a promising future for generations to come. This distinguished lecture by a leading South African Scientist, described by the Department of Education as one of South Africa’s “living treasures’’ in 1994, brings insights from science to bear on what it is be human. She received the Order of Mapungubwe: Bronze Medal by President Thabo Mbeki in 2005.

Kindly RSVP by 19 September 2012
Cape Town: HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or

Durban:  First floor HSRC board room, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: