​​Research Focus

People | Places | Paradigms

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.

Given the unique model of AKU – a university of the developing world – focus on research meant identifying areas where its work would have the most impact. The University's thematic areas of research are based on contemporary challenges currently facing the world today. As years come and the scope of AKU's academic endevaours widen, research themes have been further etched and adapted to be more inclusive. 

Faculty of Health Sciences 

For our faculties in East Africa and Pakistan, the over-arching theme is 'Social and Economic Determinants of Health' (SEDOH), the current shorthand for describing health approaches that move beyond biomedical and behavioral risk factor approaches to health promotion. Indeed, the status of a population’s health cannot be examined without considering the social context. Consider the risk of exposure, host susceptibility, course of disease, and disease outcome; each is shaped by the social matrix, whether the disease is labelled “inherited” “infectious,” “genetic,” “metabolic,” “malignant,” or “degenerative".

Muslim Cultures

Research at the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations falls in three interconnected themes that concentrate on issues that are critical to all contemporary societies, particularly those that remain relatively unexplored within Muslim environments. The themes respond to an urgent need for representative scholarship about Muslim societies and cultures.


The Institutes for Educational Development explore links between scholarship and research through themes of multi-literacies and multi-linguality, gender balance and poverty, and the need for inclusion and equity.


East Africa

The Bottom Line: Turning Knowledge Into Goods and Services

A thematic approach provides the foundation for training young researchers and distinguish AKU by enhancing quality research output, by placing greater emphasis on focus and critical mass. Thematic research is expected tol have the following constructive effects:

  • Collaboration: Strengthening expertise and understanding through exchange of ideas a​nd institutional experiences, both academic and service related, nationally and internationally.

  • Impact and Relevance: Assurance that research is relevant to problems of society and is directed to achieving constructive change in conditions of life and effectiveness of services.

  • Centres of Excellence (COE): Evolution of clinical and academic centres of excellence, which may stem independently from the university’s academic and scholarly activity.