The two dominant genes Aisha Pandor inherited from her parents are the right-brained creativity of her father and the left-brained logic of her mother. An ambitious, curious, fun-loving scientist, she’s the brilliant blend of both. Pandor, 27, recently completed her PhD in human genetics at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Her thesis investigated the molecular mechanisms behind retinitis pigmentosa 17, a form of hereditary blindness, seeking a gene therapy that may also cure other hereditary diseases. In addition to organising seminars and speaking at meetings of retinal support groups, she has won numerous awards including the David and Elaine Potter Fellowship and a doctoral fellowship at the 2011 Women in Science awards. Pandor has also studied management and is working as a business analyst. It’s part of her grand plan to blend science and industry and, by commercialising it, push the boundaries of genetic research. Now that’s smart genes.
— Lu Larche