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3rd International KRP Symposium Held in Lisbon, Portugal

The third international symposium of the KRP was conducted December 6th, 2011, in Lisbon Portugal, as part of the Global Addiction Conference. The symposium included updates on ongoing khat research projects sponsored by the KRP. Reports on recent basic and clinical findings were discussed. The following presentations were included:

  1. Mustafa al’Absi (KRP director, University of Minnesota, U.S.A.). Introductory remarks and updates on ongoing KRP activities
  2. Stephan Bongard (Frankfurt University, Germany). Khat and emotion regulation: cross-sectional studies in Yemen
  3. Benjamin Pieck (Frankfurt University, Germany). Khat and emotion regulation: Pilot studies in Germany
  4. Saba Kassim (Queen Mary University of London, UK). The validation of self-reported khat chewing amongst khat chewers in London
  5. Michael Odenwald (University of Konstanz, Germany). Khat abuse and schizophrenia treatment outcome in an assertive community-based treatment: a pilot follow-up study in Somalia.


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Meeting with scientists at the EMCDDA in Lisbon, Portugal

Members of the KRP team, including Professor Mustafa al’Absi of the University of Minnesota, Dr. Michael Odenwald of the University of Konstanz, and Professor Stephan Bongard and Mr. Benjamin Pieck from the University of Frankfurt visited the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The team met with senior scientists and staff at the Center including Drs. Paul Griffiths and Roland Simon, senior scientists and unit leaders within EMCDDA. The KRP team presented an overview of ongoing international activities related to khat and concurrent use of other drugs. EMCDDA mission and potential ways to interface with KRP activities were discussed.

The EMCDDA exists to provide the EU and its Member States with a factual overview of European drug problems and a solid evidence base to support the drugs debate. It was established in 1993. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU’s decentralized agencies.


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Successful Visit to the University of Nairobi and the Institute for Primate Research (IPR), Kenya

October, 2011. A visit to the University of Nairobi and the Institute for Primate Research in Kenya was undertaken by the KRP team, including KRP director Prof. Mustafa al’Absi. Drs. Jemmima Oduma, Pius Adoyo, and Albert Nyongesa, all of the University of Nairobi, as well as Dr. Michael Odenwald from the University of Konstanz, Germany, participated in KRP meetings and discussions with the leadership of the Institute and the University of Nairobi. The goal was to assess progress on ongoing projects and continue discussions on future collaborations between the KRP and the two institutions in Kenya.

At the IPR, the team met with Dr. Thomas Kariuki, the IPR director, Dr. Mbaruk Abdalla Suleman, Director of Chronic non-communicable diseases program, Dr. Maina Ngotho, Director of Animal Services, and other scientists and staff within the IPR. Ongoing programs, available resources and facilities, procedures for engaging scientists within the IPR, and protocols for setting up contracts with other institutions were discussed during these meetings.

The University of Nairobi is the largest comprehensive university in Kenya. The Institute of Primate Research, a part of the National Museums of Kenya, performs both field and laboratory studies on a wide variety of primates on-site in Kenya. Focusing on conservation biology, reproductive health and biology, infectious diseases, and animal sciences and care, the Institute of Primate Research runs various programs under each of these four subjects, offering both overviews and techniques. Fact sheets are also available for the indigenous primates studied at the Institute, as well as relevant publications and reports.


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Meeting at the African Mental Health Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya

During their visit to Nairobi in October, Professor Mustafa al’Absi of the University of Minnesota and Dr. Michael Odenwald of the University of Konstanz visited the African Mental Health Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the status of the ongoing collaboration with the foundation and future research initiatives involving khat and related mental health concerns in Africa.

The KRP team met with the foundation director, Professor David M. Ndetei, and other faculty and staff from the foundation. Professor Ndetei presented an overview of ongoing projects within the foundation and future opportunities to collaborate with regional organizations in Africa.

The KRP team also visited a local clinic serving refugee communities in the outskirt of Nairobi. The Tawakal Medical Clinic serves refugees who have concurrent mental and other drug related problems, including khat and tobacco use. Director Dr. Abduqadir Hussein provided information on ongoing services and challenges related to the demands for health care in the clinic. He also expressed interest in community engagement related to research that addresses the local populations’ health needs and priorities.


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Research Finds Regular Khat Use is Associated with Disturbances in Emotion Regulation Processes

Research published by researchers from the KRP showed that chronic khat use was associated with increased anger emotions and enhanced angry feelings in response to acute stressful challenges. The research was published by the European Addiction Journal last August. The abstract of this research is below.


Eur Addict Res. 2011 Aug 23;17(6):285-291.

Khat Use and Trait Anger: Effects on Affect Regulation during an Acute Stressful Challenge.


Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Khat (Catha edulis) is a widely used stimulating drug often consumed in daily routine in Yemen and East African countries. Chewing khat acutely elicits states of euphoria and feelings of well-being which later shift into emotional instability and low mood. Little is known about emotional regulation in habitual khat chewers. In this study, we compared self-reports on trait anger as well as positive and negative affect responses to a mental arithmetic challenge. Participants included 135 men and women from Yemen who chew khat regularly, occasionally or not at all. Participants attended a laboratory session that involved resting periods and performing a math challenge. Analyses of variance and regression show that regular khat chewing is associated with higher trait anger, more pronounced negative responses during stress and less pronounced positive emotional states. These results suggest that regular khat chewing is associated with disturbances in emotion regulation processes.

Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel.

[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
PMCID: PMC3169357
[Available on 2012/1/1]




KRP Symposium Held in Addis Ababa, February 9th, 2011

The symposium was conducted within the 10th Society of Neuroscience in Africa (SONA) Conference

The second KRP international symposium was completed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of the 10th Society of Neuroscience in Africa (SONA) Conference. The symposium provided latest updates on the status of global khat research activities as well as recent basic and clinical studies on the influence of khat. The symposium started with introductory remarks and updates on ongoing activities presented by Professor Mustafa al’Absi, Director of the KRP at the University of Minnesota. Then the following talks were also presented:

  1. Mustafa al’Absi, Najat Saem Khalil, Molham Al Habori, Richard Hoffman, & Koji Fujiwara (KRP, University of Minnesota, U.S.A., and Sana’a University Yemen). Introductory remarks and updates on the ongoing khat research program
  1. Mohammed Al Soofi, Anisa Dokam, Abed Kasim, Basma Ali Thabet
    Khaled Al-Sahmiry, and Mustafa al’Absi (Taiz University and University of Minnesota). Emotion regulation and anger expression style among khat users and nonusers
  1. Saba Kassim, Sharif Islam, & Ray Croucher (Queen Mary University of London, UK). Tobacco use and nicotine dependence in UK-resident Yemeni khat chewers
  1. Ermias Dagne (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia). Khat as a source of the mild stimulant and appetite suppressant cathine
  1. Rudolf Brenneisen (Professor, University of Berne, Switzerland). CNS-stimulating and somatic effects of Khat
  1. Finally Professor Ahmed Al-Motarreb from Sana’a University in Yemen provided a discussion of the presented materials and future directions.
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