Global Neurology Research Group

The Global Neurology Research Group, part of the Department of Neurology and the Neurological Clinical Research Institute, finds innovative solutions to improve the quality of neurological care in low- and middle- income countries.


Neurological disorders such as epilepsy, stroke, dementia and traumatic brain injuries are more common in low- and middle income countries, where 86% of the world’s population is concentrated.

These neurological disorders can be disabling both physically and mentally, and there is a high human and economic cost associated with them. Many of these diseases come with a stigma attached since they are often misunderstood.

Compounding this problem is that many of these diseases are not well diagnosed or treated due to a lack of trained neurologists and limited access to medical care in these settings.

When last studied, there were 12 African countries with no neurologists, and an additional 23 countries with a ratio of one neurologist to more than five million people in the population. 

The Global Neurology Research Group at Mass General works on projects designed to improve the diagnosis, care and treatment of neurological diseases in these resource-limited settings.


Dr. Mateen and the Bhutan Epilepsy Project were recently featured in the Boston Globe following a recent trip to Bhutan. Mateen and her research team are investigating the use of a mobile phone-based EEG system as compared to traditional EEG machines, to see if they can improve epilepsy diagnosis in a country that does not have any neurologists.
Read more

Dr. Mateen and the Bhutan Epilepsy Project won the grand prize at the 2015 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Neuro Film Festival! The video was created byDiscovery Himalayas, a Bhutanese audio visual company,  and we thank them for their great work. Watch below to learn about seizure perceptions in Bhutan and the work we're doing to help. 


Page updated: April 23, 2015

Group Members

Transportation for patients and families

Sarah, Diederik, and Dr Mateen outside of the MGH Neurological Clinical Research Institute entrance.

Principal Investigator

Farrah Mateen, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Assistant in Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Research Staff

Sarah Clark, BSc, Senior Clinical Research Coordinator, MGH

Sonam Deki, BComm, Research Assistant, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Thimphu, Bhutan
Lhab Tshering, BSc, Research Assistant, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Thimphu, Bhutan 

Students & Trainees

Diederik Koelman, BSc, Master's student, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Emma Wolper, Research Assistant, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Erica McKenzie, BSc, Medical Student, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada
Mia Borzello, BA, Research Assistant, Cash Laboratory, MGH

Tali Sorets, High School Student, Buckingham, Brown & Nichols, Cambridge, MA, USA



Joe Cohen, EEG Technician, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA

Jo Mantia, EEG technician, Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto, Canada



Global Neurology Staff Working in Bhutan

Damber and Farrah Erica and Tali
 Dr. Damber Nirola and Dr. Farrah Mateen Erica McKenzie and Tali Sorets enrolling patients.
Sonam and Lhab Jo in the clinic
Research assistants Sonam and Lhab in Thimphu, Bhutan. EEG Technician Jo Mantia performas a stationary EEG in the clinic in Bhutan. 

Research Projects

Testing out the smartphone-based EEG

Testing out the smartphone-based EEG in Bhutan.

Research Projects

Smartphone EEG in Bhutan- the group is conducting a clinical study to test the feasibility of using a smartphone-based electroencephalograph (EEG) system to diagnose patients with epilepsy in Bhutan, a small, land-locked country between China and India. Funded byGrand Challenges Canada (which is funded by the Government of Canada and dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact in global health).

Resources and published media:

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to Assess Brain Development in Infants in Sub-Saharan Africa

Preliminary data suggest that retinal nerve fiber layer measurements may be surrogate markers of early life cortical development. Embryologically, the retina shares derivation with the cerebral cortex, but unlike the cortex, can be visualized noninvasively through a new technology, optical coherence tomography (OCT).  OCT is a portable, affordable, painless, noninvasive medical instrument and has supportive scientific evidence as a surrogate marker of gross measures of neurodevelopment in specific disease states. Interpretation of RNFL thicknesses are automated and colorized so that lay community health care workers can be trained to make basic readings in the field.

We aim to determine whether handheld, noninvasive OCT equipment can reliably assess brain development through measurements of retinal nerve fiber layers in early life and be an effective screening test for some forms of abnormal early life brain development.



Clickhereto view Dr Mateen's electronic bibliography.


Contact Us

Global Neurology Research Group -- Farrah Mateen, MD, PhD

165 Cambridge St. Boston, MA 02114
  • Near Public Transit
  • Handicapped Accessible

Back to Top