Headshot photo of Desire Tshala Katumbay, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., FANA

Desire Tshala Katumbay, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., FANA

  • Professor of Neurology, School of Medicine


Dr. Desire Tshala-Katumbay earned his M.D. degree (Neurology) from the University of Kinshasa, Zaire; MPH degree (Epidemiology and Biostatistics) from Oregon Health & Science University; and a Ph.D. degree (Neurology) from the University of Uppsala, Sweden.

Advisory work

Co-Chair scientific committee, COVID-19 response, DRC, 2020-Present

WHO-DRCongo Focal point for the Minamata Convention. WHO Expert Panel to implement the Minamata Convention, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 2018; and Lead Investigator of the Pindi outbreak, 1998, Kikwit, DRCongo

NIH study sections: Special emphasis panels on Brain Disorders in the Developing World, NAME, and NIEHS, 2003 – 2021

Steering committee Learning Collaborative for Implementation Science in Global Brain Disorders, Member, 2016 - 

OHSU School of Medicine Diversity Committee. The Committee advised the Office of the Dean on best approaches to enhance inclusion and diversity at OHSU. Role: Member from 2015 – Present

"Brainstorming and Innovation NIH meeting", Office of the NIH Director, Potomac, DC, 2011

WHO working group on ICD-10 revision (toxic disorders of the nervous system)

Role: expert consultant, work in progress, 2011

South African Medical Research Council, 2008

Swedish Institute, 2009

Member Committee on Aid and Education in Neurochemistry, International Society of Neurochemistry, 2006-2009.

US/Canada (North America) Committee Member for International Brain Research Organization/National Academy of Sciences (NAS), 2009 – Present

CROET-Oregon Brain Institute (OBI) liaison: 2009 – 2014. Role: provide CROET-neuroscience research highlights to OBI and serve as a liaison between the two institutions.

Featuring Desire's research:
Bitter Harvest: Cassava and Konzo, the Crippling Disease (Global Health)
Poverty Plus A Poisonous Plant Blamed For Paralysis In Rural Africa (NPR)

Publications at My Bibliography (PubMed)

Education and training

  • Degrees

    • M.D., 1989, Kinshasa School of Medicine
    • Ph.D., 2001, Uppsala University
    • M.P.H., 2015, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Residency

    • Neurology, University of Kinshasa, 1996
  • Fellowship

    • Clinical and Experimental Neurotoxicology, Oregon Health and Science University, 2002–2004
  • Certifications

    • Zairian Board of Neuropsychiatrists, 1996

Memberships and associations:

  • New York Academy of Sciences
  • American Neurology Association
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society of Toxicology
  • American Society of Neurochemistry
  • International Neurotoxicology Association
  • World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation
  • Society for Neuroscientists in Africa
  • International Brain Research Organization (IBRO), Chair of the Africa Regional Committee ARC/IBRO, 2021-Present

Areas of interest

  • Dissection of neurodegenerative mechanisms using chemical probes
  • Neuron-specific delivery of small molecules to the nervous system
  • Diet-toxic exposure-gene interactions and in neurological diseases
  • Global health and environmental neurology
  • Brain disorders in contexts of emerging and re-emerging diseases

Honors and awards

  • Community Engagement Scholarship Award, Michigan State University, 2019
  • The “Untold Global Health Stories” contest winner, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, NPR’s Goats and Soda blog, and the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, San Francisco, California, 2016
  • Keynote speaker NIH/FIC 10Th Anniversary Brain Disorders in The Developing World, Bethesda, DC, 2014
  • Participant in the