May 2010

Member Spotlight

Spotlight---ChetsangaChristopher J. Chetsanga 

University of Zimbabwe
Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe

How long have you been an ASBMB member? 
I have been an ASBMB member for 35 years. I joined the society when I was a professor at the University of Michigan because of the society’s reputation of organizing scientific meetings on current biochemical topics each year. I have benefitted greatly from the professional contacts that I have established at these meetings.

How do you feel ASBMB could best help young scientists in your country?
By offering opportunities for collaborative and sabbatical leave postings in the U.S. Such arrangements would be most helpful if they came with research fellowships.

What do you study?
I work on DNA damage and the enzymology of DNA repair, as well as gene cloning in the molecular biology of hepatitis B virus. We have studied cases of hepatocelluar carcinoma in Zimbabwe.

What are some hot research areas in your country?
Some of the hot research areas in Zimbabwe are on the search for malaria and HIV/AIDS vaccines.

Where do you see research going in your country in 5 to 10 years?
I see the research on malaria and HIV/AIDS vaccines continuing to draw attention in the next five to six years. This will be accompanied by research on genetically modified organisms in both the agricultural and medical fields.

Do you collaborate internationally? Are there any barriers to collaboration?
I have been doing limited collaboration internationally. As a scientist in Zimbabwe, I welcome such research collaboration opportunities. However, the limited funding of research in this country limits the scope of research activities that one can engage in internationally.

Where do you get most of your funding?
I have received most of my funding from Sweden.

How do you think research in your country differs most from research in the United States?
The major difference between the research activities in Zimbabwe and the U.S. is the large amount of funding available in the U.S. compared to the very small level of research funding available in Zimbabwe. The other difference is the intensity of research activity and the number of graduate students, as well as the diversity of research areas covered; both of these areas are on a much smaller scale in Zimbabwe.

Did you do any of your training abroad?
I did all of my training in North America; I received my Bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University, my Master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Toronto and did a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

Do you publish your research in non-English journals? 
I publish all of my research work in English journals.

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