Research Centers


Global Neurology Research Group

The Global Neurology Research Group, part of the Department of Neurology and the Neurological Clinical Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, 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 won the grand prize at the 2015 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Neuro Film Festival! The video was created by Discovery 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

Transportation for patients and families

Community organizers are instrumental in getting patients from remote villages to XDP clinics, where they receive free care and treatments. One popular mode of transportation is the Jeepney (above). Photo Credit: Greta Solinap

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, Mass General/Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
Diederik Koelman, BSc, Master's student, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Emma Wolper, Research Assistant, Lesley University, Cambridge, USA
Erica McKenzie, BSc, Medical Student, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada
Mia Borzello, BA, Research Assistant, Cash Laboratory, Mass General/Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
Tali Sorets, High School Student, Buckingham, Brown & Nichols

Staff in Bhutan

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


Global Neurology Staff Working in Bhutan

Damber and Farrah Erica and Tali
Sonam and Lhab Farrah


Research Projects

Standard EEG on a child in Bhutan 


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 by Grand Challenges Canada.



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. 


Click here to view Dr Mateen's electronic bibliography.

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

165 Cambridge St.
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-724-6387

Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes