Desirée White

Desirée White

​Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Professor of Pediatrics (School of Medicine)
PhD, Washington University in St. Louis
MA, Washington University in St. Louis
BS, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1125
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

The research of Professor White's Developmental Neuropsychology Laboratory focuses on cognitive development in children with disorders affecting frontal brain regions and associated white matter tracts. Populations of particular interest include children with sickle cell disease (a blood disorder placing children at high risk for stroke) and children with phenylketonuria (a rare metabolic disorder). 

The primary emphasis across pediatric populations is the development of executive abilities such as working memory, inhibitory control, and strategic processing. Neuroimaging correlates of cognition are examined using methods such as magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging. The effects of medical interventions on brain and cognition are also examined, such as hydroxyurea and blood transfusion for stroke prevention in children with sickle cell disease and sapropterin dihydrochloride and pegvaliase for the treatment of phenylketonuria. 

Pending retirement, Dr. White is no longer accepting graduate students into her laboratory. 

Selected Publications

  • Clocksin, H. E., Hawks, Z. W., White, D. A., & Christ, S. E. (2021). Inter- and intra-tract analysis of white matter abnormalities in individuals with early-treated phenylketonuria (PKU). Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 132, 11-18. PMID33334682


  • Hood, A. M., Reife, I., King, A. A., & White, D. A. (2020). Brief screening measures identify risk for psychological difficulties among children with sickle cell disease. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 24, 651-661. PMID31463865

  • Hawks, Z., Hood, A. M., Lerman-Sinkoff, D. B., Shimony, J. S., Rutlin, J., Lagoni, D., Grange, D. K., & White, D. A. (2019). White and gray matter brain development in children and young adults with phenylketonuria. NeuroImage: Clinical, 23, 1-9. PMID31491833

  • Hood, A. M., King, A. A., Fields, M. E., Ford, A. L., Guilliams, K. P., Hulbert, M. L., Lee, J. M., & White, D. A. (2019). Higher executive abilities following a blood transfusion in children and young adults with sickle cell disease. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 66, Epub. PMID31267645

  • Hawks, Z. W., Strube, M. J., Johnson, N. X., Grange, D. K., & White, D. A. (2018). Developmental trajectories of executive and verbal processes in children with phenylketonuria. Developmental Neuropsychology, 43, 207-218. PMID29432026

  • Hood, A., Rutlin, J., Shimony, J. S., Grange, D. K., & White, D. A. (2017). Brain white matter integrity mediates the relationship between phenylalanine control and executive abilities in children with phenylketonuria. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disorders Reports, 33, 41-47. PMID27450369

  • Hood, A., Antenor-Dorsey, J. V., Rutlin, J., Hershey, T., Shimony, J. S., McKinstry, R. C., Grange, D. K., Christ, S. E., Steiner, R., & White, D. A. (2015). Prolonged exposure to high and variable phenylalanine levels over the lifetime predicts brain white matter integrity in children with phenylketonuria. Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 114, 19-24.PMID25481106

  • King, A., et al. (2014). Silent cerebral infarction, income, and grade retention among students with sickle cell. American Journal of Hematology, 89, 188-192. PMID25042018

  • DeBaun, M. R., et al. (2014). Controlled trial of transfusions for silent cerebral infarcts in sickle cell anemia. New England Journal of Medicine, 371, 699-710.PMID25140956

  • Camp, K., et al. (2014). Phenylketonuria Scientific Review Conference: State of the science and future research needs. Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 112, 87-122. PMID24667081

  • Hood, A., Grange, D. K., Christ, S. E., Steiner, R., & White, D. A. (2014). Variability in phenylalanine control predicts IQ and executive abilities in children with phenylketonuria. Molecular Genetics and Metabolism,111, 445-451.  PMID24568837

  • White, D. A., Antenor-Dorsey, J.A., Grange, D. K., Hershey, T., Rutlin, J., Shimony, J. S., McKinstry, R. C., & Christ, S. E. (2013). White mater integrity and executive abilities following treatment with tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) in individuals with phenylketonuria. Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 110, 213-217. PMID23928118