IOWC Associate: Himla Soodyall

Professor Himla Soodyall is Director of the Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit (HGDDRU) established by the South African Medical Research Council in conjunction with the National Health Laboratory Service and University of the Witwatersrand

She received degrees from the University of Durban-Westville: B.Sc: (Microbiology, Biochemistry), 1985; B.Sc (Honours): (Microbiology), 1986 and the University of the Witwatersrand: M.Sc: (Biotechnology), 1986; PhD: (Human Genetics), 1993. Professor Soodyall was nominated to the Academy of Science, South Africa in 2003 and received the Order of Mapungubwe, Bronze medal, from President Mbeki for her contribution to science

Professor Soodyall’s primary research goal is to “map and model genetic diversity in sub-Saharan African populations to reconstruct the history of African populations as well as to understand the mechanism of population susceptibility to disease.”

In 2005, Professor Soodyall became the sub-Saharan African Principal Investigator of the Genographic Project  in which capacity she has forged a collaboration with Gwyn Campbell of the Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill.



2006 Editor, The Prehistory of Africa. Tracing the Lineage of Modern Man. Johannesburg and Cape Town: Jonathan Ball.

Articles and Chapters

2004 "Genes, ancestry and history." In Toward New Histories for South Africa: On the Place of the Past in our Present, edited by Shamil Jeppie, 37-44. Cape Town: Juta Gariep.

2003 "A walk in the Garden of Eden: Genetic trails into our African past." Social Cohesion and Integrated Research Programme, Africa Human Genome Initiative Occasional Paper Series No.2. Cape Town: HSRC Publishers.

2003 "Reflections and prospects for anthropological genetics in South Africa." In Genetic Nature/Culture: Anthropology and Science beyond the Two-Culture Divide, edited by Alan H. Goodman, Deborah Heath and M. Susan Lindee, 200. Berkeley: University of California Press.

2002 H. Soodyall, B. Morar and T. Jenkins, "The human genome as archive." In Refiguring the Archive, edited by C. Hamilton, V. Harris, J. Taylor, M. Pickover, G. Reid and R. Saleh, 179-192. Cape Town: David Philip.

2002 "The language of the genes." In Rebirth of Science in Africa: A shared vision for life and environmental sciences, edited by H. Baijnath and Y. Singh, 51-59. Hatfield, South Africa: Umdaus Press.

2001 P.V. Tobias, M.A. Raath, J. Moggi-Cecchi and G. Doyle, assisted by K. Kuykendall and H. Soodyall, "Humanity from African Naissance to coming Millennia: Colloquia." In Human Biology and Palaeo-anthropology. Florence: Firenze University Press and Witwatersrand University Press.

2001 "Human origins – evidence in the genes." In Science in Africa (July).

1999 P.L. Deininger, S.T. Sherry, G. Risch, D. Chadwick, M.B. Robichaux, H. Soodyall, T. Jenkins, F. Sheen, G. Swergold, M. Stoneking and M.A. Batzer, "Interspersed repeat insertion polymorphisms for studies of human molecular anthropology." In Genomic Diversity: Applications in Human Population Genetics, edited by Surinder Singh Papiha, Ranjan Deka and Ranajit Chakraborty, 201-212. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

1998 H. Soodyall and T. Jenkins, "Khoisan prehistory: the evidence of the genes." In Proceedings of the Khoisan Identities & Cultural Heritage Conference Cape Town July 1997, edited by A. Bank, H. Heese and C. Loff. University of the Western Cape: Institute For Historical Research.

1996 H. Soodyall, T. Jenkins, R. Hewitt, A. Krause and M. Stoneking), "The peopling of Madagascar." In Molecular Biology and Human Diversity, edited by A.J. Boyce and C.G.N. Mascie-Taylor, 156-170. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1996 D.F. Roberts and H. Soodyall, "Population ancestry on Tristan da Cunha - the evidence of the individual." In Molecular Biology and Human Diversity, edited by A.J. Boyce and C.G.N. Mascie-Taylor, 196-204. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1993 "Mitochondrial DNA variation in southern African populations." PhD thesis, University of the Witwatersrand.

Articles in Accredited and Peer-Reviewed Journals

2003 B. Pakendorf, V. Wiebe, L.A. Tarskaia, V.A. Spitsyn, H. Soodyall, A. Rodewald and M. Stoneking, "Mitochondrial DNA evidence for admixed origins of central Siberian Populations." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 120: 211-224.

2003 H. Soodyall, A. Nebel, B. Morar and T. Jenkins, "Genealogy and genes: tracing the founding fathers of Tristan da Cunha." European Journal of Human Genetics 11: 705-709.

2002 M.V. Osier, A.J. Pakstis, H. Soodyall, D. Comas, D. Goldman, A. Odunsi, F. Okonofua, J. Parnas, L.O. Schulz, J. Bertranpetit, B. Bonne-Tamir, R.B. Lu, J.R. Kidd and K.K. Kidd, "A global Perspective On Genetic Variation At The ADH Genes Reveals Unusual Patterns of Linkage Disequilibrium And Diversity." American Journal of Human Genetics 71: 84-99.

2002 B. Pakendorf, B. Morar, L.A. Tarskaia, M. Kayser, H. Soodyall, A. Rodewald and M. Stoneking, "Y-chromosomal evidence for a severe reduction in male population size of Yakuts." Human Genetics 110: 198-200.

2002 A.B.Lane, H. Soodyall, S. Arndt, M.E. Ratshikhopha, E. Jonker, C. Freeman, L. Young, B. Morar and L. Toffie, "Genetic substructure in South African Bantu-speakers: Evidence from autosomal DNA and Y chromosome studies." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 119: 175-185.

2001 M.F. Hammer, T. M. Karafet, A. J. Redd, H. Jarjanazi, A.S. Snatachiara-Benerecetti, H. Soodyall and S. L. Zegura, "Hierarchical patterns of global human Y-chromosome Diversity." Molecular Biology and Evolution 18.7: 1189-1203.

2001 W. Hide, V. Mizrahi, B. Venkatesh, S. Brenner, A. Simpson, G. Blatch, H. Soodyall, K. Denby, M. Wingfield, B. Wingfield, P. van Helden, R. Ramesar, R. Dorrington, J. Kelso, E. Oppon, E. Goyvaerts,M. Ramsay, E. de Villiers, C. van Heerden,B. Allsopp and C. Seoighe, "A platform for genomics in South Africa." South African Medical Journal 91.12: 1006-1007.

1998 E. Jazin, H. Soodyall,P. Jalonen, E. Lindholm, M. Stoneking and U. Gyllensten, "Mitochondrial mutation rate revisited: hot spots and polymorphism." Nature Genetics 18.2: 109-110.

1997 T. Melton, C. Ginther, G. Sensabaugh, H. Soodyall and M. Stoneking, "Extent of heterogeneity in mitochondrial DNA of sub-Saharan African populations." Journal of Forensic Science 42: 582-592.

1997 H. Soodyall, T. Jenkins, A. Mukherjee, E. du Toit, D.F. Roberts and M. Stoneking, "The founding mitochondrial DNA lineages of Tristan da Cunha Islanders." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 104: 157-166.

1997 M. Stoneking, J.F. Fontius, S.L. Clifford, H. Soodyall, S.S. Arcot, N. Saha, T. Jenkins, M.A. Tahir, P.L. Deininger and M.A. Batzer, "ALU insertion polymorphisms and human evolution: evidence for a larger population size in Africa." Genome Research 7: 1061-1071.

1996 H. Soodyall, L. Vigilant, A.V. Hill, M. Stoneking and T. Jenkins, "Mitochondrial DNA control region sequence variation suggests multiple independent origins of an 'Asian-specific' 9-bp deletion in sub-Saharan Africans." American Journal of Human Genetics 58: 595-608.

1996 M. Stoneking and H. Soodyall, "Human evolution and the mitochondrial genome." Current Opinion in Genetics and Development 6: 731-736.

1995 H. Soodyall, M. Stoneking and T. Jenkins, "Polynesian mtDNA in the Malagasy." Nature Genetics 10: 377-378.

1995 L.B. Jorde, M.J. Bamshad, W.S. Watkins, R. Zenger, A.E. Fraley, P.A. Krakowiak, K.D. Carpenter, H. Soodyall, T. Jenkins and A.R. Rogers, "Origins and affinities of modern humans: A comparison of mitochondrial and nuclear genetic data." American Journal of Human Genetics 57: 523-538.

1994 S.T. Sherry, A.R. Rogers, H. Harpending, H. Soodyall, T. Jenkins and M. Stoneking, "Mismatch distributions of mtDNA reveal recent human population expansions." Human Biology 66: 761-775.

1993 H. Soodyall and T. Jenkins, "Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in Negroid populations from Namibia: new light on the origins of the Dama, Herero and Ambo." Annals of Human Biology 20: 477-485.

1992 H. Soodyall and T. Jenkins, "Mitochondrial DNA studies in the South African Indian Population." Gene Geography 6: 127-137.

1992 H. Soodyall and T. Jenkins, "Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in Khoisan populations form Southern Africa." Annals of Human Genetics 56: 315-324.

1991 D.A. Merriwether, A.G. Clark, S.W. Ballinger, T.G. Schurr, H. Soodyall, T. Jenkins S.T. Sherry and D.C. Wallace, "The structure of human mitochondrial DNA variation." Journal of Molecular Evolution 6: 543-555.