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05 April 2018 Photo Xolisa Mnukwa
Global genealogy explored at UFS guest lecture
Karen Ehlers, lecturer in Department of Genetics; Prof Eugenia D’Amato, guest lecturer and Associate Professor: Department of Biotechnology at the UWC, and Prof Paul Grobler Head of Department: Genetics at the UFS.

Prof Eugenia D’Amato held a lecture at the University of the Free State (UFS) Department of Genetics about the research activities she has conducted in her unit at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), in the Forensic DNA lab of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
The lecture focused on research topics she has piloted, including the use of forensic markers in South Africa. Prof D’Amato also spoke on food forensics, the identification of anti-apartheid activists, understanding human genetic variation, and the implementation of novel/refined methods, with a strong emphasis on the forensic use of Y chromosome-based information.

She concluded her PhD studies at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, at the forensic lab. Currently, Prof D’Amato participates in numerous genotyping international forensic collaborations.

 “A survey of existing genetic diversity,
the distribution of diversity, the forensic
parameters and applications are a few of
the subject matters which are important
components of the GlobalFiler project.”
Prof Eugenia D’Amato

She also belongs to the working committee of the “Innocence Project South Africa”.

Her training and subsequent experience in population genetics facilitated the design of a Y chromosome “kit”, as well as the analysis and successful identification of various individuals from highly degraded DNA. Her lecture revealed interesting statistics about how poorly represented African diversity is in the existing world population databases. She explained that mechanisms that drive differentiation include random “genetic drift” and historic demographic processes.
Prof D’Amato indicated that her “Database Projection” project for 2018/2019 aims at profiling the population groups of South Africa, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe. She further explained that a powerful tool for forensic application has been developed, and that there is potential for other applications including haplogroup prediction and the study of demographic history, that will aid her projects in the future.

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