The commemoration of AKU's 40th anniversary serves as a poignant reminder of the unwavering commitment and tireless efforts of the employees and stakeholders who have played a pivotal role in the growth of the University. This milestone holds immense significance for us at the Brain & Mind Institute and reaffirms our unwavering dedication to the promotion and advocacy for brain health across communities in East Africa and South & Central Asia. This trajectory remains as vibrant and relevant today as it was at BMI’s inception. Thus, to the BMI, “Onwards” also means Onwards with the brain and mental health advancement in the global south communities.



We are delighted to present our latest team members who have joined us since December 2022. We firmly believe that they will make significant contributions to BMI's global positioning, and we warmly welcome them to our team.​


Alice Mkamboi​

Administrative Associate

Dr Chi Udeh-Momoh

Translational Nueroscientist

Dr Karen Blackmon

Consultant Neuropsychologist

Naila Ali

Administrative Associate

Dr Samra Javed

Senior Manager, Operations, Partnerships and Projects​

What excites you about the work you do?
I love working with people. I also enjoy conducting ethnographic research and directly encountering people in the places they live, work, seek care, and engage in public life. Given the dynamic nature of life, it is intriguing to observe, study and understand how these changes affect human beings. By regularly delving into people's health, culture and society, I am constantly broadening my knowledge and gaining a deeper appreciation for different cultures. This experience also enables me to extend my perspectives beyond familiar social-cultural and medical contexts to view things from other people's perspectives.

What makes BMI unique? What is different about your work experience here?
Transdisciplinarity! BMI has established an implementation science team from diverse disciplines who work collaboratively and offer a holistic way of looking at Mental and Brain Health. This has allowed me to provide anthropological perspectives in these fields. 

What is your secret to progress?
I am flexible and quickly adapt to new environments. My ability to socially interconnect and learn from others has been crucial to my success. I also focus more on positive energy, reading, getting current updates in academia and everyday social life, and critical reflections. 

What does a typical day for you look like?
I am an early bird and do most of my heavy work in the mornings. I start my weekdays by checking/reading emails, reviewing my calendar and focusing on top-priority assignments. Light activities such as meetings fit nicely in my afternoons, and I still try to remain productive. Weekends are for family, church and socializing.​

The emphasis on economic survival in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has largely overshadowed the importance of prioritizing brain health. Nevertheless, given Africa's projected population doubling by 2050, it is imperative to recognize the crucial role that individuals and communities on the continent can play in promoting brain health. With this in mind, BMI is dedicated to advancing this goal by cultivating an environment that encourages research, policy, and practice related to matters of brain health.


BMI recently hosted a compelling workshop with individuals who have experienced the devastating impact of suicide, have suicide-lived experiences, or incidents of self-harm. The event coincided with Self-Injury Awareness Day, celebrated annually on March 1.

The application period for the Global mental health postdoctoral fellowship positions at Harvard Medical School and the BMI, Aga Khan University has come to a close, receiving 57 applications. The selection process is now underway as the search for two exceptional candidates commences.

The fellowship program has been designed with the expectation that successful candidates will be based full-time at Harvard Medical School in Boston during year one, starting from September 1, 2023. Following this they will transition to an Aga Khan University campus in either East Africa or Asia in year 2.

The program will support fellows in conducting implementation science research aimed at translating, prevention, assessment, and treatment interventions to specific settings and vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries. The successful candidates will have the chance to gain valuable research experience and make a positive impact in the field of mental health.​

Suicide is a complicated issue, and sadly, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year. For each suicide there are many more people who attempt. Self-harm is a type of behavior where someone intentionally hurts themselves, but it doesn't result in death. However, self-harm can still be very dangerous and may increase the risk of future suicide attempts.

This study, therefore, aims to discover more about self-harm in Kenya, particularly the methods people use and the characteristics of those who engage in self-harm. The researchers will look at medical records from patients who were seen at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2022, to gather this information.​


As a collaborator of the UZIMA-Data Science hub, we had the privilege of meeting a team from the University of Michigan earlier this year, in collaboration with AKU's Institute for Human Development. At BMI, we are proud to spearhead the Mental Health component of the UZIMA project, which utilizes a combination of existing surveillance data and cutting-edge mobile technologies to construct advanced Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML)-based prediction models.

Our ultimate goal is to identify adolescents, youth, and healthcare staff who may be at risk of depression and suicidal ideations, thus helping to improve mental health outcomes in the regions we serve. Such collaborative partnerships are crucial to the success of our mission.​

  1. Management of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) in resource limited settings: The Kenyan Experience
  2. Cultural and contextual adaptation of mental health measures in Kenya: An adolescent-centered transcultural adaptation of measures study
  3. Interpersonal Psychotherapy's problem areas as an organizing framework to understand depression and sexual and reproductive health needs of Kenyan pregnant and parenting adolescents: a qualitative study
  4. Health and socioeconomic resource provision for older people in South Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka evidence from NEESAMA
  5. Cost Utility of Supporting Family-Based Care to Prevent HIV and Deaths among Orphaned and Separated Children in East Africa: A Markov Model–Based Simulation
  6. Patterns of suicide and self-harm in Pakistan: a retrospective descriptive study protocol
  7. Impact of climate events, pollution, and green spaces on mental health: an umbrella review of meta-analyses
  8. Sociodemographic Characteristics and Patterns of Suicide in Pakistan: An Analysis of Current Trends
  9. Use of Mobile Technology to Identify Behavioral Mechanisms Linked to Mental Health Outcomes in Kenya: Protocol for Development and Validation of a Predictive Model
  10. COVID-19 vaccination refusal trends in Kenya over 2021
  11. Mental and sexual health outcomes associated with FGM/C in Africa: a systematic narrative synthesis
  12. Assessing knowledge, attitudes, and practices of emergency department staff towards patients with suicidal behaviors in Pakistan
  13. Social support and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic among a cohort of people living with HIV (PLWH) in Western Kenya.
  14. Knowledge, attitudes and practices of mental healthcare workers in management of intentional self-harm in a mental health care referral facility: a qualitative study.
  15. Comparison of radiographic and CT appearances of covid-19 pneumonia and influenza pneumonia in a sub-Saharan Africa population
  16. Development, Delivery And Evaluation Of Micro-certificate Mental Health Ambassadorship Course 


During Brain Awareness Week, we organized an engaging event for AKU staff to gain insightful tips on maintaining a healthy brain while exploring the fascinating workings of the brain for optimal cognition.


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