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Aga Khan University’s Brain and Mind Institute Secures Funding for Brain Resilience Research in Kenya.

By Shadrack Nyakoe

The Aga Khan University’s Brain and Mind Institute (AKU-BMI) has received a prestigious award from the Dynamic Resilience program, jointly funded by Wellcome Leap and Temasek Trust, to propel the study of intricate mechanisms of brain resilience..

Led by expert investigators Drs. Chi Udeh-Momoh and Karen Blackmon from the Brain and Mind Institute, alongside Clinical Research Unit (CRU) Director Professor Mansoor Saleh, the Brain Resilience Kenya program marks a bold step forward in exploring how various life stressors—ranging from illness and poverty to substance abuse and climate change— impact resilience to premature brain aging. The program adapts a multifaceted approach that combines culturally sensitive measures of stress and resilience with cutting-edge statistical and machine learning techniques.

“We are excited to embark on this journey towards uncovering the secrets to lifelong brain wellness. Through our comprehensive study, we aim to promote a society that prioritizes brain care and enhances outcomes for aging populations,” said Dr. Chi Udeh-Momoh, Translational Neuroscientist at the Aga Khan University’s Brain & Mind Institute.

Partnering with co-investigators from various institutions including University College London, University of California San Francisco, Karolinska Institute, Dartmouth and Wake Forest University, and Imperial College London, the program emphasizes collaboration on a global scale.

The main objective of the study is to identify indicators of brain and cognitive aging within Kenya’s adult population, with a specific focus on individuals facing unprecedented life stressors, such as breast and prostate cancer diagnoses. By uncovering cultural elements that enhance resilience and promote healthy brain aging, the program aims to mitigate vulnerabilities associated with aging and disease, including cognitive decline and dementia in Kenyan adults.

Through collaboration with local communities, the project will gain valuable insights in coping mechanisms and resilience-building strategies in the early stages. These insights will inform the development of equitable and effective tools to support individuals and families facing various stressors.

 

“We will engage both healthy adults and individuals recently diagnosed with cancer and their families to understand the impact of everyday challenges on brain health and well-being,” said Professor Mansoor Saleh, Director, Cancer Centre at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi. By comparing experiences between these groups, we aim to gain valuable insights into the effects of stressors such as illness, poverty, substance abuse, and climate change on brain resilience.

Read also:- Aga Khan University Joins Coalition to Address Health-related Sustainable Development Goals, Enhancing Global Health Outcomes

This project represents a significant stride in understanding how stressors affect brain aging, particularly within East African communities. Beyond scientific advancement, it offers hope for supporting individuals and families facing challenges in Africa. We anticipate that the insights gained will revolutionize our understanding of stress and resilience and pave the way for impactful interventions to support mental health and well-being in Africa.

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