A team of scholars from University of the Western Cape (UWC) led by Prof. Maria Euginia D’Amato paid a courtesy call on Kibabii University top leadership on Thursday 13th October. This is out of a Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA) signed in March 2022. They were hosted by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Isaac Ipara Odeo and a KIBU research team from the Department of Biological Sciences, Environmental and Natural Resources headed by genetic expert Dr. Denis Misiko Mukhongo. They held fruitful discussions on how the current RCA can be broadened to benefit both institutions.
Prof. D’Amato was accompanied by Dr. Mohaiman Kasu (Forensic DNA Laboratory- University of the Western Cape); Ms Aaliyah Begg (Forensic DNA Laboratory- University of the Western Cape) and Eric Barasa (PhD student MMUST).
Later, the scholars gave a joint presentation titled “DNA in ancestry and population studies a Kenyan perspective”. The presentation attended by KIBU staff and students unravelled how various components of our genetic make-up can be applied in the determination of ancestry, evolutionary history and even medicine practice. They also gave a synopsis of the current joint research project between KIBU and UWC unravelling the evolutionary history of the Pre-Neolithic populations in present day Kenya. This is a three-year grant funded by the South African National Research Fund with both Prof Euginia Maria D’Amato and Dr. Denis Misiko Mukhongo being the co-principal investigators. The project targets populations that do practice or have until recently practiced hunting and gathering like the Okiek, Endorois, Bongomek, Sengwer among others. According to the researchers, the Analysis of Matrilines, Patrilines and targeted single nucleotide polymorphisms will aid to decipher the ancestry and possibly reveal how their current ecologies have impacted their genomic architecture.