Message from Dean of Research

​Message from the Dean of Research & Graduate Studies  

Research and scholarship are core missions of any university, and are central for the creation of new knowledge. They are the drivers of progress and improve methods in teaching, thereby training the next generation of academics and contribute to social, economic and cultural development of societies and nations.  

The Aga Khan University (AKU) places particular emphasis on fundamental and translational research, since this is the foundation for trans-disciplinary programmes, which tackle national and international challenges.

At AKU, we have a creative, diverse, engaging, and energetic faculty, passionately working across campuses in South Asia, East Africa, and the United Kingdom. Their diversity and energy is evident from their collective scholarly activities and publishing record. Faculty set the research agenda based on critical mass in specific thematic areas, and work with colleagues across disciplines and campuses to resolve challenges of global significance, breaking down traditional academic boundaries and fostering a collaboration of experts to address major societal issues related to education, Muslim cultures, and human health. The work of our faculty holds promise of developing new contemporary solutions to regional challenges of potentially global relevance. 

Subjects may be isolated, but knowledge is not. Concentrating our resources on thematic areas of research enables us to build a momentum of adept understanding that is required to make noteworthy contributions to the body of knowledge. AKU has expanded and enhanced its international university partnerships, strengthening and deepening relationships with world-leading research institutions.

The University focuses on priority thematic areas of research for each of its schools and institutes. These are based on contemporary challenges currently facing the world today. For example, the Faculty of Health Sciences (including the Medical Colleges and Schools of Nursing and Midwifery), focuses on themes of Non Communicable Diseases; Infection Immunity and Inflammation; Maternal New-born & Child Health; Human Development; Neurosciences; and Stem Cell Biology. 

Similarly, research at the Institute of Educational Development focuses on Teacher Education; Curriculum Studies; Policy Studies; Teaching and Learning; and Educational Leadership.

The London-based Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations concentrates on the construction of knowledge about Muslim Societies and Cultures; Understanding the Process of Change in Muslim Societies and Cultures; and Governance in the Muslim Context.

Externally funded research has become increasingly important to meeting scholarly objectives. AKU faculty seek long-term funding opportunities from national, regional, and international organisations to undertake research in the social sciences and humanities, basic and clinical sciences, education, as well as in translational research. These grants, in turn, support graduate students (advanced diploma, Masters, and PhD), post-doctoral fellows, clinical fellows, conferences, workshops, and public outreach, thereby developing an encouraging network of research and scholarly collaboration across disciplines and borders, including those with AKU’s international partners.

The landscape in which research grants and contracts are bid for and won is a competitive one, and global in nature. Research is becoming more international and more interdisciplinary, mak¬ing the management of research funding an increasingly complex task. Furthermore, granting agencies and governments seek transparency and value for money. At AKU, research administration is continually evolving to fit the dynamic nature of the environment. People, processes, and systems are key factors in delivering research excellence, both operation¬ally and strategically.

Through the Research Office, support is provided to faculty members by providing assistance in identifying appropriate funding opportunities and through guidance in grant applications. This website is a good starting place, with key links and many resources available to assist faculty in applying for grants. The Research Office also helps profile the impressive research output of faculty, promotes research amongst faculty and students, oversees the administration of sponsored programs, serves as the University's spokesperson on research news, and ensures proper guidance for research compliance and integrity. 

The Graduate Office is responsible for administration and implementation of graduate policy as defined by the Board of Graduate Studies (BGS), thereby ensuring a consistent and smooth experience for graduate students across the University.

The link between AKU's research thrust and the graduate study experience is not only essential, but also complementary. The University’s graduate programs provide advanced research training leading to MA, MEd, MMed, MSc, MScN or PhD degrees, and post-doctoral fellows work in schools, hospitals, field sites or laboratories in the final stages of their preparation for a career in research. AKU graduates are highly capable and motivated individuals who bring innovative solutions to contemporary and future challenges in their respective areas of endeavour. In addition, undergraduate students have opportunities to engage in mentored research as well, leading to early exposure to the research experience.

As Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, it is my responsibility to create an enabling environment that inspires researchers to achieve their ambitions, and attracts the most talented academics and scholars. It is an exciting time to be a part of the research and graduate community at AKU. I encourage you to explore the AKU website. Within these pages you will find the accomplishments of the AKU community and the impact their work has made both nationally and internationally. I am proud of the progress AKU has made in the past 25 years. As AKU’s research teams, portfolio, and productivity grow, I envision a future where our faculty and students will contribute significantly towards resolving local challenges of global relevance, and to national and regional policies and dialogue.

Professor El-Nasir Lalani is Dean of Research & Graduate Studies, and Professor of Pathology at the Aga Khan University. His profile can be found here.​​