McMaster renews and expands partnership with Aga Khan University

Group of university leaders standing outdoors, smiling at the camera

From left: Bonny Ibhawoh, McMaster’s Vice-Provost, International; McMaster University President David Farrar; Susan Tighe, McMaster Provost and Vice-President (Academic); Carl Amrhein, AKU Provost and Vice-President (Academic); Zulfiqar Bhutta, Director, Institute for Global Health and Development and the Center of Excellence in Women and Child’s Health, AKU; Paul O’Byrne, Dean of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences; and Andy Knights, McMaster’s Acting Vice-President, Research.

From addressing global health inequities to building the next generation of public policy leaders, McMaster and Aga Khan University (AKU) have signed an agreement aimed at working together to solve some of the world’s most pressing societal challenges.

Through student and faculty exchanges, knowledge sharing, co-supervision of PhD students, and a host of other interdisciplinary partnership initiatives, the agreement will spark academic and research collaborations across a wide range of Faculties and areas of study.

“There is much we can learn from each other, and much we can do together to build healthier, stronger communities globally,” says McMaster President, David Farrar. “This agreement is an important step in developing important research and academic collaborations that will deliver meaningful impacts, for our respective institutions and for our broader communities”

The MOU builds upon a long history of cooperation between McMaster and AKU, which began 40 years ago with McMaster’s support to launch AKU’s School of Nursing in Pakistan – a program that has since grown to include campuses in Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

Reflecting on this invaluable relationship, AKU President, Sulaiman Shahabuddin says, “McMaster can take pride in its role in enhancing the reputation and the practice of nursing in Pakistan and East Africa, and in creating rewarding professional opportunities for thousands of women, through its partnership with AKU.”

This latest MOU renews and expands on this cooperation and further aligns McMaster’s academic and research strengths with those of AKU in many areas of health care, including infectious disease and vaccine development, digital health innovation, cancer research and mental health. It will also explore the development of partnerships in other diverse areas such as sustainability, biodiversity, climate change, data science, social justice, cultural studies, communications and media studies, and global peace.

Carl Amrhein, AKU’s provost and vice president, and Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, internationally renowned AKU expert in maternal and child health, recently visited McMaster’s campus for the signing of the agreement.

“This commitment to expanded collaboration offers both institutions the opportunity to leverage resources, pursue new ventures and have impact on issues that affect the entire world – both in Canada and in the countries where AKU operates,” says Amrhein. “We look forward to this expanded collaboration in health sciences while exploring how interdisciplinary approaches to understanding today’s challenges can improve public policy.”

A history of partnership between McMaster and AKU:

• 1980 – McMaster provides expertise in the establishment of AKU with the launch of a School of Nursing in Pakistan.

• 1983 – Dr. Fraser Mustard, then dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University Medical School, serves as one of AKU’s founding trustees, serving in this capacity for 26 years.

• 1987 – His Highness the Aga Khan, receives an honorary degree from McMaster.

• 1994 – McMaster and AKU, with funding from the Canada International Development Agency, support the start of Pakistan’s community health worker program.

• 2008 – An MOU is signed expanding the McMaster/AKU partnership in Africa and Asia.

• 2009 – Dr. Yasmin Amarsi, Founding Dean, Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa, is awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from McMaster.

• 2024 – Renewal of the McMaster/AKU relationship