The President’s Review​

​December​ 2023​ 



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December 2023









President’s Message






President Sulaiman Shahabuddin 






In this year-end edition of The President’s Review, I am delighted to share with you that 2023 has been an extraordinary year of accomplishments. The AKU family turned a milestone year, the 40th anniversary of AKU, into a year of milestones! The many achievements featured in this newsletter make that abundantly clear. We are launching historic new academic programmes, earning international honours and partnering with global institutions and leaders. We are helping governments to strengthen public education and public health care. Our faculty members are contributing to nationally and internationally influential studies and guidelines and winning prestigious awards. While commemorating AKU’s 40th year, we are busy paving a strong and exciting pathway onwards!


In October, I travelled to the United States to sign a new partnership agreement with the University of Michigan together with Princess Zahra Aga Khan. While in the US, I met with alumni, donors and members of the Jamat in Boston, Orlando, Chicago and Los Angeles to share AKU’s impact and the vision of our Chancellor for the University. The enthusiasm I encountered for our work was palpable. In November, we hosted the AKU Board of Trustees in Karachi for the first time since the pandemic. The presence of so many globally eminent leaders struck a hopeful note and signaled AKU’s unshakeable commitment to the people it serves. In a time of strife and uncertainty in many countries, the University continues to benefit from diverse views, to instill hope and to inspire commitment.


As Princess Zahra Aga Khan said in Karachi, “With the continued guidance of its Chancellor, the wise oversight of its Trustees, the deft management of its senior leaders, and the generous support of its friends, AKU will continue to stand as a creative source of education and enlightenment in the decades ahead.”









New Programmes, New Era






FAS Students 






First FAS Students Arrive on Stadium Road

In a historic development, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences received the members of its inaugural undergraduate class at campus supported by welcoming remarks from Princess Zahra Aga Khan. AKU’s first new Faculty in Pakistan in 30 years, FAS represents a major step towards the University’s longstanding goal of becoming a comprehensive university that is active in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Read More


Landmark Nursing and Medicine Programmes Begin in East Africa

In East Africa, the Faculty of Health Sciences launched its first full-time undergraduate degree programmes. The Medical College, East Africa welcomed the first students to its Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery programme in Nairobi. The School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa welcomed the first students to its four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing programme in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Read more here and here









New Donor-Supported Buildings Inaugurated






Stadium Road Campus 






With Princess Zahra Aga Khan and fellow members of the Board of Trustees in attendance, the University inaugurated two major new facilities in Karachi. Generously supported by a gift from the Hashwani family, the five-storey Hashoo Building for women and child health features state-of-the-art research laboratories and clinical care spaces. Bringing together the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, paediatricians, OBGYNs and other faculty and staff, it will foster collaboration and innovation. Watch Video


Generously supported by a gift from the Lakhani family, the five-storey Gulbanoo Hasanali Lakhani Building gives Clifton Medical Services (CMS) a new home that will allow it to serve twice as many patients as previously. The new CMS features expanded urgent care, pharmacy, radiology and physiotherapy services, and will also offer chemotherapy, dialysis, mammography, CT scans and other services. Watch Video









Awards and Honours












Nairobi Residency Programmes Achieve Accreditation

Three AKU residency programmes were accredited for the first time by the U.S.-based Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education International, demonstrating that they meet international standards of quality. Read More


Voices Earns U.S. Environmental Journalism Award

The second season of Voices from the Roof of the World received the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism from the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York City. This award joins many other recognitions earned by the series, including showings in prominent film festivals internationally. Read More


Community Hospitals Earn SafeCare Certification

AKU’s hospitals in the Garden and Kharadar areas of Karachi both received SafeCare Level 5 certification. These two hospitals join AKU’s community hospitals in Karimabad, Hyderabad as well as the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children in Kabul for the same certification confirming their status as high-quality care providers. Read More


FMIC and AKU Receive International Hospital Federation Honours

The Dr Kwang Tae Kim Grand Hospital Award is the highest honour given to an individual hospital by the International Hospital Federation. The AKU-managed French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children received an Honourable Mention in the category, making it one of just eight hospitals so honoured. AKU also received an Honourable Mention in the Green Hospitals category. Read More


CIME in Kenya Now American Heart Association-Accredited

The Centre for Innovation in Medical Education in Nairobi was accredited as an American Heart Association training site, opening up new opportunities for AKU to help enhance the quality of cardiac care in the region. Read More









Supporting the Public Sector












Major Donation to Kenyan and Uganda Governments

The Aga Khan University Hospital donated mobile vaccination clinics and other equipment worth more than $660,000 to the Governments of Kenya and Uganda. The gifts, financed by the German Government through KfW, were received in Kenya at State House by First Lady Rachael Ruto and in Uganda by Minister of State for Health Margaret Muhanga. Read more here and here


Contributing to National Guidelines for Newborn Care

Eight AKU faculty members contributed to the development of Pakistan’s new national guidelines for newborn care. The Ministry of Health will distribute the guidelines to all primary and secondary health facilities in the country in an effort to reduce neonatal mortality as called for by Sustainable Development Goal 3.2. Read More









Strengthening Education












Girls Excel on AKU-EB Exams

Girls once again took the lead in the Aga Khan University Examination Board’s annual Secondary School Certificate and Higher Secondary School Certificate exams. Two-thirds of the highest-scoring students were girls. Read more here and here


Training Government Teachers in Gilgit-Baltistan

The Institute for Educational Development is partnering with the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan, the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Islamabad and other universities to train 1,300 teachers in subjects ranging from pedagogy to community engagement. Read more here and here


Supporting Primary Education in Balochistan

Together with the Government of Balochistan and other partners, the Institute for Educational Development is working to improve primary education in Balochistan, including by training more than 300 teacher educators. Read More









Partnering for Impact






University of Michigan  






University of Michigan Partnership Enters New Phase

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, President Sulaiman Shahabuddin and fellow AKU leaders visited the University of Michigan to expand the partnership between the two institutions, which has already garnered more than $7 million in funding for research from the US National Institutes of Health. Read More


GSMC Trains Media Managers with US Embassy Support

With support from the US Embassy, the Graduate School of Media and Communications delivered a seven-month Media Managers Boot Camp to 20 media professionals from western Kenya. Read More









Protecting the Environment












A New Era Begins in Arusha

Environmental and climate-change research at AKU entered a new era with the signing of partnership agreements with four institutions, including Simon Fraser University of Canada, at AKU’s Arusha Climate and Environmental Research Centre in Tanzania. Minister of Education, Science and Technology Adolf Mkenda attended the ceremony. Read More


Biomass Boiler Reduces Carbon Footprint

The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi replaced its diesel boiler with a biomass boiler that will reduce the hospital’s carbon emissions by 2,000 tonnes annually, an amount equal to that emitted by driving from Nairobi to Mombasa 700 times. Read More


Voices from the Roof of the World (VRW) Launches Season 3

Produced by filmmakers from Pakistan, Tajikistan, India and Nepal, the third season of VRW was launched in conjunction with COP28 and continues strong in its focus on the climate crisis in the earth’s highest mountain region stretching from the Pamirs to the Himalayans. Home to 240 million people and countless rare and endangered species, these mountains are also the largest depository of ice outside the polar caps, providing water to about a quarter of the world's population. Watch Season 3









Research and Innovation






Dr Marleen Temmerman 






New AKU Research Magazine Published

AKU researchers are studying everything from the impact of the gut microbiome on child health to the politics of veiling in Turkey under Ataturk to the state of journalism in East Africa. Learn about their discoveries and innovations in AKU Research 2023. Read More


Landmark for ISMC

In a major success that was years in the making, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations received Independent Research Organisation status from UK Research and Innovation. This will enable it to apply directly for research funding from UK government entities. Read More


Lancet Series on Newborns Launches in Nairobi

An estimated 1 million stillbirths and newborn deaths could be prevented each year with low-cost interventions, according to the Lancet Series on Small Vulnerable Newborns, whose authors include two AKU faculty members. Read More


A New Grant from NIH to Study the Use of AI

AKU in Kenya has been awarded a $750,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the use of AI technology to overcome barriers in specialized training required for diagnosing and predicting outcomes in cases of colorectal cancer in Africa. The project marks a significant milestone in enhancing and fortify the healthcare system in Kenya through a shared commitment to high quality research and human capacity strengthening. Read More


Faculty Help Shape WHO Guidelines

When should infants begin consuming foods other than breast milk, and what should those foods be? Research by AKU faculty helped shape the new, 96-page World Health Organization guidelines that provide evidence-based answers to such questions to help clinicians and policymakers promote optimal child development. Read More









Faculty Honours






Dean Lukoye Atwoli  






Dean Lukoye Atwoli was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honours in the field of medicine globally.


Vice Provost for Research Salim Virani (AKU MBBS 1998) chaired the committee responsible for writing the joint guidelines for the treatment of chronic coronary disease published by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.


Three faculty members received Pakistan Civil Awards. Professor Shahid Baig received the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta received the Sitara-e-Imtiaz and the late Dr Salahuddin Shaikh received the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz posthumously. These are the highest civil awards conferred by the Government of Pakistan.


Associate Professor Fyezah Jehan was among the presenters at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers event in New York City.


Dean Adil Haider (AKU MBBS 1998) received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his Master of Public Health.


Associate Professor Laila Ladak (AKU BScN 2003, MScN 2009) received the Emerging Nurse Researcher and Scholar Award at Sigma Nursing’s International Nursing Research Congress in Abu Dhabi. The American Council for Graduate Medical Education International honoured three physician educators with awards this year. Two are AKU faculty members. Professor Muhammad Rizwan Khan received the Physician Leader Award. Assistant Professor Novera Ghayoor Chughtai received the Physician Educator Award.


Chief Information Officer Shaukat Ali Khan received the CIO Legend Award at the Global CIO Forum hosted by ITCN Asia.









Exhibition photo 






40th Anniversary






‘A Transformative Vision’ Exhibition Opens in Karachi


A multimedia exhibition that brings to life AKU’s 40-year history is open to the public on the Stadium Road campus in Karachi. The exhibit was launched in November with former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Ishrat Husain and Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy in attendance.


Featuring rarely seen historic and new photographs, video, artefacts and documents, A Transformative Vision commemorates the vision of the University’s founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan; the commitment of the thousands of dedicated individuals who have endeavoured to realize the vision; and the impact AKU has on people’s lives globally.


The exhibition continues to attract diverse audiences through a compelling journey of AKU’s widespread impact while dispelling misperceptions and strengthening the understanding of the vital role played by the University in bettering the quality of life of populations globally.


A Transformative Vision will travel to other locations soon and a schedule will be announced in the New Year. Read More






Exhibition photo 









New Hospital Services






Mother and child 






New in Karachi

First time in Pakistan, the Ultrasound Biomicroscopy (UBM) diagnostic service was introduced at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi allowing detailed views of the eye resulting in enhanced diagnoses. The Hospital also expanded its newborn screening process to include screening for 12 inherited metabolic disorders. Read more here and here


New in Nairobi

The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi now offers capsule endoscopies and colonoscopies. These non-invasive procedures make use of a tiny wireless camera housed in a vitamin-size capsule. The Hospital also reintroduced its Kidney Transplant Programme to increase access to quality care and reduce the number of people traveling outside the continent to access specialised care. Read more here and here


AKUH, Nairobi opened two new Outreach Medical Centres in Karen in Nairobi County and Kenol in Murang'a County. These Centres become the Hospital's 51st and 52nd outreach clinics. Read more


New in Afghanistan

Despite emerging challenges, FMIC in Kabul persevered in delivering its  services. In response to the challenges, concerted efforts were undertaken to fortify and enhance adult services. The first ever electrophysiology study and catheter ablation in Afghanistan was performed by FMIC’s cardiology team. Hemoglobin electrophoresis was also introduced for the first time analyzed by a consultant hematopathologist. Find our more here and here









Did You See…












The Membership Examination of the Surgical Royal Colleges of Great Britain and Ireland was held at the Centre for Innovation in Medical Education in Karachi for the first time. “This centre is pretty definitely the best centre I’ve actually been in,” said Professor Peter McCollum, Supervising Examiner of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Watch Video









Did You Know…












The MBBS Class of 1991 donated a generous endowment gift to support the Postgraduate Medical Education programme. Dr Saad Omer (AKU MBBS 1998) discussed the impact of his AKU education upon becoming Founding Dean of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s School of Public Health. A team led by Dr Adeel Khan (AKU MBBS 2002) performed the first robotic liver transplant in the United States.
























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