Youssef Oulhote (left) shakes hands with African Union Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Sarah Anyang Agbor PHOTO CREDIT: www.umass.edu

Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Youssef Oulhote, has been appointed to the Scientific Committee of African Scientific and Research Innovation Council (ASRIC) to help establish priorities of research and innovation for the AU research council.
Oulhote alongside representatives of the academies of science of Zambia and Rwanda will be leading the group’s project focused on fighting stunted growth in African countries by designing strategies to tackle pollution and malnutrition. This is one of three flagship projectsn being developed by the group.
His term, which began in late November, coincided with his delivery of the keynote address at the 4th ASRIC Congress held in Nairobi, Kenya.
Oulhote’s talk, “Africa’s Hidden Pandemic: From Cell to Society,” focused on the health, economic, and societal impacts of environmental neurotoxicants in Africa.
Increasing evidence has shown that some chemicals are particularly toxic to the human brain. In his presentation, Oulhote described the implications of such contaminants and discussed the main challenges facing the African continent regarding both demographic and epidemiological transitions. For instance, it is estimated that lead poisoning alone costs the continent nearly 4% of its GDP, and that approximately half of Africa’s children are exposed to high lead concentrations. His talk ended with short- and long-term projects that could strengthen capacity building on the continent and allow in depth analysis of population exposure to chemical contaminants and their potential health and economic effects, particularly on child brain development.
Oulhote joined the faculty in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass Amherst in 2018. His research focuses on the health effects of early life exposures to metals (e.g. mercury, lead, and manganese) and endocrine disruptors (e.g. PBDEs, PFAS, and phthalates), with an emphasis on children’s cognitive and behavioral functions. His research explores the interplay of environmental, nutritional and social factors, and how these exposures interact to impact population health.

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