Dr. Himla Soodyall

Director, Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit, National Health Laboratory Service and University of the Witwatersrand


Dr. Soodyall is the Director of the Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit, which was established in 2001 by the Medical Research Council of South Africa in partnership with the National Health Laboratory Service and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She is also a Principal Investigator, representing sub-Saharan Africa, on the 5-year global Genographic Project — conceived by the National Geographic Society in partnership with the IBM Corporation and the Waitt Foundation. Dr. Soodyall’s current research focuses on human populations and the evolutionary genetics of sub-Saharan African and Indian Ocean populations and uncovering population histories and affinities. She was chosen by the Department of Education as one of South Africa’s Living Treasures in 1994 in a campaign celebrating 10 years of democracy. In 1999 Dr. Soodyall received the President’s Award from South Africa’s National Research Foundation and the Wits Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research. Her contribution to science in South Africa was recognized at the highest national level when she was awarded the Order of Mapungubwe (Bronze) by South Africa President Thabo Mbeki in 2005. Dr. Soodyall received a B.Sc. (with honors) from the University of Durban-Westville and an M.Sc. in biotechnology and a Ph.D. from Wits. She has published more than 45 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and chapters in books and also has edited the book The Prehistory of Africa, published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in 2006.

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