In 1978 a cytogenetic study group was established at the initiative of Drs. Molly Nelson and Renée Bernstein. Their first meeting was held at the Department of Human Genetics, University of Cape Town and thereafter they met on an annual basis.
On 1 July 1986 an inaugural general meeting of the Southern African Society for Human Genetics was held at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
There were 55 people present at this meeting and Professor Trefor Jenkins was elected as chairman and Professor Renée Bernstein was appointed the first secretary/treasurer.