CROET Profile: Desire Tshala-Katumbay

Initially educated in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Desire has worked in international circles since the beginning of his career, receiving his education in Zaire (MD) and Sweden (PhD).  A key research focus is the neurological diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.  Working through organizations such as the International Brain Research Organization, supported by his enthusiasm and personal charisma, Desire has recruited scientists, professionals from many specialties and students from around the world to join him in studying the diseases in Africa.  His interest in his area of work is infectious and he has built a strong research team to study various issues, particularly diet-toxic exposure-gene interactions. Desire has a very highly-regarded international reputation.  He is a frequent member of the Brain Disorders in the Developing World: Research Across the Lifespan study section of the Fogarty International Center at NIH.

In 2010, Desire was one of the two organizers of the 22nd Advanced IBRO School: Diet, Toxins and Neurodegeneration held in the Congo. In 2009, Desire was an invited speaker in a major symposium at the American Society For Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), addressing brain disorders in the developing world (2009).

Dr. Tshala-Katumbay’s “environmental model” of choice is konzo, an upper motor neuron disease associated with food cyanogens found in cassava (tapioca), low dietary intake in sulfur amino acids cystein and/or methionine. His “occupational model” explores mechanisms by which industrial solvents (such as n-hexane and diethylbenzene derivatives) induce diseases of the nerve axon. In these models, he uses active metabolites to track molecular and cellular events associated with neurological diseases.

Learn more about Dr. Tshala-Katumbay.

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