One challenge for the pharmaceutical community globally is to develop drugs that are effective for individual populations. In 2009, whole-genome sequencing of two people—!Gubi, a Kalahari Bushman, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu—was conducted, yielding surprising results. By characterizing the genetic variations that are present in Southern African genomes, better drugs (such as anti-viral drugs for HIV) can be generated to target the needs and situations of specific populations.
The Kalahari Bushmen live near what is thought to be the epicenter of the ancestors of modern humans. Due to this close physical proximity, we observe a high level of diversity within their genome. For example, we saw more diversity between two bushmen who live about 1,000 miles apart than is seen between a Caucasian and an Asian.
Archbishop Tutu was sequenced on the premise that his ancestors belonged to two of the major groups within the Bantu population. Instead, the study uncovered that somewhere in Archbishop Tutu's lineage, on his maternal side, there was an African bushwoman, proving that Archbishop Tutu is distantly and directly related to the Kalahari bushmen.