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PO Box: 11-0236
Riad El Solh, Beirut 1107 2020
Beirut - Lebanon (More)
Abu-Haidar Neuroscience Institute (AHNI)

About Us
The Abu Haidar Neuroscience Institute is an institute of the AUB Faculty of Medicine and Medical Center that aims to coordinate and promote clinical services, teaching and research functions of the neurosciences at the American University of Beirut, all while fostering the development of a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of diseases of the nervous system.

The AHNI mission is to:
  • Coordinate the activities and investigations of the clinical services and basic research in Neuroscience at AUB in order to provide the best quality service to the patients with neurological and neurobehavioral disorders.

  • Develop basic and clinical research studies that increase understanding of the normal and diseased brain. 
  • Provide a rich intellectual environment that enhances the educational experience in all neuroscience disciplines. To raise awareness about neuroscience and educate the community and patients in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders.
  • Promote within the Lebanese and Arab world the unique value of the clinical services that are available within the field of neuroscience at AUBMC and the importance and need for continuous clinical and basic research. This will establish AHNI as a regional center for neuroscience clinical referrals and withe the ultimate goal of being a neuroscience institute with an international reputation for neuroscience clinical and basic science research studies.
To become the leading neuroscience center in Lebanon and the region for academically driven innovations in neuroscience clinical care, education and research. 

Click here to access AHNI Policies manual. 

AHNI Director 
  • Dr Samia Khoury, MD, Professor of Neurology, Abou Haidar Neuroscience Institute and Multiple Sclerosis Center Director 

    Dr Khoury is the Director of Abou Haidar Neuroscience Institute and Multiple Sclerosis Center at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. She is Jack, Sadie, and David Breakstone Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Partners Multiple Sclerosis center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is the Director of the Abu Haidar Neuroscience Institute at AUBMC and the director of the new AUBMC Multiple Sclerosis center. Dr Khoury is a recipient of the Kuweit Prize in Immunology in 2007.

    Dr Khoury’s laboratory research has focused on investigating the immune mechanisms in the animal model of Multiple Sclerosis and the interactions between the immune system and neural stem cells.  Dr Khoury developed and directs the Clinical Immunology Laboratory at the Center for Neurologic Diseases that specializes in biomarker development for Multiple Sclerosis.

    Dr Khoury is committed to translational research and is the Principal Investigator of the ACCLAIM multicenter clinical trial funded by the Immune Tolerance Network. She served as member of National Multiple Sclerosis Society study section and the CNBT study section at National Institute of Health. She was elected to American society for Clinical Investigation and the American Neurological Association in 2002, and has been serving as the chair of the membership committee of Clinical Immunology Society since 2009, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. Dr Khoury has authored numerous papers, reviews, and book chapters about MS and is on the editorial board of Multiple Sclerosis and section editor for Clinical Immunology.
AHNI Internal Advisory Board Members
  • Dr Samir Atweh, MD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurology
    Dr Atweh graduated from the Medical School of the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1974 with an MD and MSc. in Neurophysiology. After graduation he completed two year post-graduate training in Neuropharmacology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, followed by three year residency training in Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. From 1979-83 he was an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Chicago and the Director of the Neurology Residency Training program. In 1983 he joined the Faculty of Medicine at the American University of Beirut as an Associate Professor and Head of the Division of Neurology, and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1987. At AUB he also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, Acting Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and Associate Dean for Medical Education. In July of 2011 he was appointed as the Founding Chair of the newly formed Department of Neurology. Dr Atweh is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association, and the Science Academy of the Developing World, among other international scientific societies. He has more than 90 publications. His main interests are in the fields of pain physiology, degenerative brain diseases and movement disorders.

  • Dr Ziad Nahhas, MD, MSCR Chair, Department of Psychiatry 
    Dr Ziad Nahas joined the AUB community in the summer of 2011 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry Dr Nahas received his Medical Degree from Saint Joseph University in Lebanon. He then completed an internship in Psychiatry at L’Institut Paul Silvadon (a lacanian day-hospital in Paris) and Hopital Charles Foix in Paris France. Dr Nahas moved to Houston Texas in 1993 as a resident in Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine. He also attended the Houston-Galveston psychoanalytic Institute psychodynamic psychotherapy course.  He joined the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 1997 where he completed a research fellowship in Functional Neuroimaging and Pyshcopharmacology and later a Master of Science in Clinical Research. Dr Nahas held the title of a Tenured Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences with an adjunct appointment in the Department of Physiology and Neuroscience until his recent move to Beirut.

    His scientific interest lies in translational neuropsychiatric researcher in mood dysregulation and depressive disorders. His current studies cover the full spectrum from clinical research and functional neuroimaging to basic science including mathematical modeling of longterm antidepressant outcomes. He is a renowned expert in brain stimulation therapies. Dr Nahas is also actively involved in bridging psychoanalytical concepts and affective neurosciences.  He is primarily focused on investigating brain stimulation technologies (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Vagus Nerve Stimulation, Deep Brain Stimulation and Epidural Cortical Stimulation), functional neuroimaging and basic animal model of depression. He has received funding from various sources, notably the NIMH, National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) and most the Hope for Depression Research Foundation (HDRF). He has chaired CME courses on brain stimulation at the APA for the past 8 years and chaired the Neuroimaging Committee of a large multicenter NIMH funded clinical trial in TMS and depression. He has received several awards including the NARSAD Independent Investigator Award and the Developing Scholar Award at MUSC. He is also a full member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

    His recent studies have demonstrated the feasibility, safety and possible efficacy of bilateral epidural cortical stimulation for TRD. The first patient to be implanted in the world following this methodology was February 2008. Results were published in Biological Psychiatry as a Priority Communication and his research on the topic was listed in the Top 10 research development for year 2009 by NARSAD.
    Dr Nahas recent studies also focused on understanding the homeostasis of depression to explore interventions that facilitate contextual treatment. Given the importance of social relatedness in depression, Dr Nahas focused on studying the role of oxytocin and brain functions. He has shown that depressed patients tend to process mental attribution of affective states with the same intensity than simple gender identification, whereas normal control shows complementary but distinct functional neuronal activity to both tasks. A 40 I.U. intra-nasal oxytocin administration normalizes functional activity in depressed patients while engaged in mental attribution. This may help better define the functional role of oxytocin in contextual attention to other and lead for possible therapeutic applications in depression in general and post-partum depression in particular.

  • Dr Nayef Saadé, D.Sc, Chairman, Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiology 
    Dr Saadé has been Professor of Neuroscience since he joined AUB in 1987, Chairman of the Department of Human Morphology since June 1990, Acting Chairman of the Department of Physiology since 2009 and Chairman of the combined departments (i.e. Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiology) since their merge in 2010.

    Dr Saadé completed his graduate education at the University of Paris and earned the Doctorat d’Etat in Physiology (Neurophysiology) in 1973.

    Dr Saadé is member of the American Society for Neuroscience and the International Association for the Study of Pain. He is the founding president of the Lebanese Society for the Study of Pain in 1999. 

    Dr Saadé’s research has focused on investigating the pain mechanisms in various animal models for acute and chronic pain, with special emphasis on neuropathic and central pains and their relationships to immune mechanisms. He is also an active member of a large group working on the elucidation of the mechanisms of neural regulation of intestinal absorption under normal and inflammatory conditions.

    In addition to collaboration with several local research groups at AUB, and other universities in Lebanon, Dr Saadé has collaborative research projects with international groups in USA (North western University), France (Hopital La Salpetriere and Hopital Necker), and Sweden (Karolinska Institutet) and recently in the United Arab Emirates. Dr Saadé has authored numerous scientific articles, reviews in internationally refereed periodicals and book chapters about chronic pain and neuroimmune interactions and is on the editorial board of several scientific periodicals

  • Dr Ghassan Skaf, Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery, Department of Surgery

  • Dr Hala Darwish, PhD, RN Managing Director AHNI 

    Dr Hala Darwish is currently an Assistant Professor at the Hariri School of Nursing. Dr Darwish received her undergraduate nursing degree from the American University of Beirut in 1997 then completed her masters as an acute care nurse practitioner and doctorate degree in bio-behavioral nursing with a neuroscience concentration at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007. She then finished her post doctorate fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2009. She was recently appointed as the managing director of the neuroscience institute and the new Multiple Sclerosis Center at AUBMC. Dr Darwish trained at the Partners Multiple Sclerosis center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in 2010. Her area of clinical specialty is neuroscience nursing and her research focuses on cognitive function such as learning and memory and factors leading to cognitive impairment. She is proficient in both basic science and clinical research and she has ongoing clinical research investigating cognitive impairment. She was the recipient of NIH training and individual research grants and has presented her work at national and international forums Dr Darwish is a member of the Nursing Honor Society- Sigma Theta Tau and other international and national professional organization.

  • Ms. Vicky Nassar, BSN, MPH, AHNI Executive Assistant 

    Ms. Nassar is currently the Executive Assistant for the Abu Haidar Neuroscience Institute (AHNI) and Multiple Sclerosis Center. In 2000, Ms. Nassar received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Université Saint Joseph in addition to a Diplome D’Etat Francais. Later she completed her Master’s in Public Health at the American University of Beirut with the area of concentration: Health Management and Policy. In 2005, she received the Best Project Presentation award for her Disaster Planning and Management masters’ project. She is certified by the American Academy of Emergency Medicine for “Hospital Disaster Preparedness”. Ms. Nassar worked as a registered nurse at the AUBMC Emergency Department for 5 years; she was then appointed Clinical Educator and developed her skills in presenting educational sessions, and coordinating courses and workshops. Afterwards, she was appointed as Nurse Manager for the oncology/medical surgical unit, where she was responsible for staff management and development, patient care management within the framework of the Patient Centered Care, and operational/business management.

    As AHNI Executive Assistant, Ms. Nassar is responsible for preparing and updating variety of financial, workload, inventory and personnel management indicators and statistical reports; process routine personnel affairs and purchasing requisitions among other administrative duties: special events organization and coordination, grant and business administration, and administrative follow up on neuroscience departments.

  • Ms. Nadine Chatila, MBA, Director of Medicine Business Unit
    After completing her Masters degree in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut, Ms. Chatila has developed and extensive Banking experience for almost ten years. She has undertaken a position in the Commercial Services Department at Arab Bank PLC. The tasks involved monitoring and assessing compliance with the standard rules and procedures governing trade finance services as well as reviewing the related business processes. The she shifted her work to become a Senior Personal banker at Bank Audi SAL responsible for managing customers’ portfolios in terms of consumer lending products and services, Capital market orders as well as Maintaining Professional and successful relationships with customers. In addition to her banking experience, Ms. Chatila has an advanced teaching experience. She taught at Beirut Arab University and BCU for 4 years, her area of concentration was management and marketing.

    She currently assumes the role of the Director Medicine Business Unit at the Faculty of Medicine.  Her main duties involve managing restricted grants/funds of all kinds and ensuring effective control and management of relevant supplier contracts and agreements related to the Faculty of Medicine and AUBMC. Other duties involve collaborating with the custodians of these projects and contracts, the Office of Grants and Contracts, Purchasing, AUBMC Plant Engineering, Facilities Planning and Design Unit, Chief Operating Officer and the Medical Center Director. In addition to the above, Ms. Chatila is responsible for the approved grants to faculty members, ensuring the grant requirements are met and that the appropriate financial and narrative reports are submitted on time. 

  • Mr. Jad Khayyat, MBA, Deputy Financial Officer 
    Mr. Khayyat has been the Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Medical Affairs since 2008 and held other positions within the Financial Administration Office for Medical Affairs since 2002. His main duties are to Plan and manage financial flows and resources regarding the Budgeting & Planning Unit and the Costing & Pricing Unit of the Medical Center, the Faculty of Medicine including School of Nursing, and Saab Medical Library. He prepares long range fiscal plans with broad stakeholder input, synthesizes forecasts and trend analyses, and performs financial analysis of data as necessary.  He oversees the implementation of the Physicians Medical Practice Plan and implementation of the Physician group practices. He received his BBA from the American University of Beirut in 2001 and his MBA from the American University of Beirut in 2004.
AHNI External Advisory Board Members
  • Dr Andres Lozano is a professor in the Department of Surgery, and inaugural Chair Holder of the Ron Tasker Chair in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at the University Health Network. He also holds a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience. His main research and clinical interests lie in the field of the neurosurgical treatment of movement disorders and micro-electrode recordings of the human brain. Dr Lozano is a graduate of the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine in 1983. Dr Lozano underwent Neurosurgi- cal Training at McGill University. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1990. During his residency in Montreal, Dr Lozano earned his PhD in Experimental Medicine in 1989. He joined the Neurosurgical Staff at the Toronto Western Hospital in 1991. Dr Lozano has published extensively in highly regarded journals, sits on numerous committees in basic and clinical research, and is a member of many distinguished medical societies.

  • Dr Gabriel Haddad is the Chair of the University of California in San Diego’s Department of Pediatrics and Physician-in-Chief and Chief Scientific Officer at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego. Prior to joining UCSD and Rady Children’s, he was Professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience and Chair of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Dr Haddad received his medical degree from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Center and a pediatric pulmonary fellowship at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. His many honors include an Edward Livingston Trudeau Award from the American Lung Association, an Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association, and an Award for Excellence in Pediatric Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and election to the Association of American Physicians. Dr Haddad has published extensively in highly regarded journals and has authored numerous medical texts. Dr Haddad sits on numerous national committees in basic and clinical research and is a member of 17 distinguished medical societies. He has held numerous editorial appointments and is a reviewer for all of the top-tier medical journals.

  • Dr Huda Akil is the Co-Director of the University of Michigan’s Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute and Gardner C. Quarton Distinguished Professor of Neurosciences in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School. She has been elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors attainable by an American scientist. Dr Akil’s research is aimed at understanding mechanisms of our emotions, including the brain biology of pain, stress, substance abuse and depression. She demonstrated that the brain has an intrinsic ability to actively block pain and was the first to implicate endorphins in the process. Early on, she translated this knowledge to practical applications, demonstrating that deep brain stimulation relieves intractable pain in humans by releasing endorphins. She and her colleagues elaborated the role of endorphins and related neuropeptides in brain function using a combination of molecular, anatomical and behavioral tools. Dr Akil received a PhD in Psychobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and pursued her postdoctoral training at Stanford University. She also holds a master’s degree in Psycholin- guistics from the American University of Beirut. Her current research investigates the genetic, molecular and neural mechanisms underlying stress, addiction and mood disorders. Along with Stanley J. Watson, MD, PhD, she co-directs the University of Michigan node of the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Research Consortium. This consortium is engaged in large-scale studies to discover new genes and proteins that cause vulnerability to major depression, bipolar illness and schizophrenia.

  • Dr Adel Afifi is a Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus (University of Iowa). He received his BA from the American University of Beirut in 1951 and then his MD in 1957. He finished his MS from the University of Iowa in 1965. He completed his post- graduate degree in Internal Medicine at the American University of Beirut, and his Neurology Residency and Neuroanatomy Fellowship at the University of Iowa, in addition to a visiting Neurology Fellowship at the New York Neuro- logical Institute, and an Electron Microscopy Fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His clinical interests focused on child neurology, particularly neuromuscular disorders. His research interests were about human and experimental neuromyopathies. Dr Afifi has published extensively and authored several books including a classic textbook: Functional Neuroanatomy.

  • Dr Ron Mackay is a senior investigator and the chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. His laboratory is studying stem cell differentiation. He received a BSc in 1971 and a PhD in 1974 from the University of Edinburgh, where he studied under the tutelage of Edwin Southern, examining DNA organization and chromosome structure. He received his postdoctoral training at the University of Oxford, where he worked with Walter Bodner on examining restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLPs). In 1978, he became a senior staff investigator at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, concentrating on two areas: the interaction of SV40 T-antigen with the specific binding site at the viral origin of replication and the molecular organization of the nervous system. Having joined the MIT faculty in 1984, Dr McKay continues to examine different aspects of neuronal organization in the nervous system.

  • Dr Augustus John Rush is an internationally renowned clinician-scientist and mentor who has developed innovative programs for clinical research and has joined the Duke- NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore (Duke-NUS) as Vice Dean, Clinical Sciences. Moving to Singapore from the U.S., Dr Rush joined Duke-NUS from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre where he was Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Clinical Sciences. Before this, he was Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Psychiatry and holder of two named Chairs. Dr Rush is an alumnus of Princeton University where he earned his first degree in biochemistry. He later completed his medical education in 1968, graduating with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from Columbia College of Physicians &Surgeons in New York. He completed his medical training in the U.S. in internal medicine (Northwestern University) and psychiatry (University of Pennsylvania). Dr Rush’s research has been focused on the development and clinical evaluation of innovative treatments for depression, bipolar and other psychiatric disorders. His work led to the definition and evaluation of cognitive psychotherapy for depression, valproate for mania, vagus nerves stimulation for treatment resistant depression, and the development and implementation of practice guidelines and measurement-based care for depression. He hopes to continue his work in Singapore, with an objective of enhancing early detection and treatment of outpatients suffering from depression who also have other general medical conditions, since depression worsens both mortality and morbidity for these patients.
Services or Procedures
The AHNI currently houses inpatient wards, outpatient clinics, multiple sclerosis center and laboratory, a specialized neuro-intensive care unit, a clinical neurophysiology diagnostic laboratory, a sleep-epilepsy monitoring unit, neurosurgical operating rooms, and basic neuroscience laboratories.
Ultimately, in addition to all the current structure we will be creating services provided, multidisciplinary disease oriented programs and other facilities will be established.

AHNI shall also be open to faculty members from all other units who have special interest in the neurosciences; such units may include (but not limited to) neuro-pathology, neuro-radiology, anesthesia, neuro-otology, neuro-ophthalmology, and rehabilitation and other faculties at AUB that may have special interest in neuroscience such as psychology and engineering among others.

News on Current/Upcoming Events

  • MS Symposium (directed by Dr. Samia Khoury)
  • Launching of AHNI Newsletter (directed by Dr Darwish)
  • Opening of Special Kids Clinic (directed by Dr Rosemary Boustany)
  • Weekly topic about neurology conference (directed by Samir Atweh)
  • Weekly topic about MS conference (directed by Dr Samia Khoury)
  • Weekly Psychiatry Journal Club / Grand Rounds activities (directed by Dr Ziad Nahhas)
  • AHNI Retreat/Goals/Initiatives
  • MEMA Neuroscience Lectures
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program (directed by Dr Fadi Maalouf)
  • Mood disorders program (directed by Ziad Nahas)
  • Neuromodulation program (directed by Ziad Nahas) 
  • MS Clinical trials
  • AMIR
  • Dementia  
  • Epilepsy Research
AHNI is located at Abou Khater Building (Building 23), basement level.

Contact Us
AHNI email : ahni@aub.edu.lb
Telephone: +961 350 000 ext. 7420-7427
Fax: 01366143
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