Message from the Founding Director

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Brain and Mind Institute.  This newly minted institute was launched to address the rise in mental health and neurological conditions – that are now at the top of the list of threats to the economic and social well-being of the people and communities served by the Aga Khan University. 

Based on AKU’s growing capacity for regional leadership in East Africa and South Asia in areas such as health, including medicine and nursing, undergraduate and graduate medical education, programs in neurology, stem cell research, woman, adolescent and child health, early development and more, the proposed Brain and Mind Institute will complement and fuel existing and emerging faculty expertise, clinical infrastructure, and academic programs.  Further, it will offer a new opportunity for AKU to mount coordinated action with its sister agencies such as the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), on improving health and wellbeing and reducing the damaging advance of mental illness on sustainable socioeconomic development in populations and regions served by the University.  

At its core, the institute is integrative – bringing together the brain and mind, spanning from the neuron to the neighbourhood.  The Institute is committed to making a difference by harnessing and supporting its transdisciplinary approach across its four broad thematic areas: 1) Research, 2) Education, 3) Innovation (implementation science), and 4) Engagement. 

The institute will operate in a hub and spoke model, with the key hubs in Nairobi (Kenya) and Karachi (Pakistan) – and the spokes connected virtually, across all geographies served by AKU. The implementation of the Institute will be phased in. The first phase will focus on Mental Health and Neuroscience. The future clusters of focus will include Neurological Conditions, Mind-Body Co-morbid conditions, Technology and Artificial Intelligence, and Innovation and Delivery Science. BMI is currently co-creating (with AKU’s senior academic leadership) an integrated Brain Health Framework – that will form the road map for the key directions for the university.  

As you explore this website, you will find various accomplishments achieved by our AKU community, some of the ongoing activities and information links to courses and webinars, which are just a glimpse of the progress being made at BMI and the university. We are committed to pluralistic approach promoting excellence in research, clinical and educational leadership in brain health. With our collective strength, we will make an impact on mental and neurological health in local and global communities.  

Dr Zul Merali
Founding Director