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  • His Highness the Aga Khan is received by Dr Haile Debas, Chairman pro tem of the AKU Board of Trustees, as President Firoz Rasul looks on
    AKDN / Jorge Simão
  • AKU President Firoz Rasul addresses AKU Board of Trustees and Portuguese partners at a dinner in Lisbon
    AKDN / Jorge Simão
  • Mr Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, delivering the keynote address in Lisbon, 13 April 2019.
    AKDN / Jorge Simão
  • Princess Zahra Aga Khan with other colleagues from the Aga Khan University at the dinner
    AKDN / Jorge Simão
  • His Highness the Aga Khan with (right) former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Paulo Portas and (left) Dr Haile Debas, Chairman pro tem of the AKU Board of Trustees listen as Carlos Moedas delivers his keynote address
    AKDN / Jorge Simão
Aga Khan University celebrates research and development partnerships in Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal, 13 April 2019 - The Aga Khan University (AKU) celebrated its partnership with Portuguese universities on research and development initiatives at a special event in Lisbon.

Attended by the University’s Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, the AKU Board of Trustees, representatives from Portugal’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education; the Catholic University of Portugal; Nova University of Lisbon; and the Aga Khan Development Network, the evening included a keynote address by Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.

President Firoz Rasul highlighted how the values shared by AKU and its public and private sector partners in Portugal had acted as a driving force for a range of innovative projects.  

“At the heart of our work is the conviction that an outstanding university, based in the developing world, can improve the quality of life for countless people,” said Mr Rasul. “But to do so, we believe it must do two things simultaneously: it must strive to achieve international standards of excellence, and it must address the problems that confront the societies in which it operates.”

Mr Rasul stated that AKU and its partners were working on a range of projects that aim to combat the effects of climate change, tackle the public health threat of infectious diseases in Africa, advance the study of regenerative medicine, and deepen our understanding of crucial periods in European and Asian history.

In his address, Carlos Moedas, recognised the role played by AKU’s Chancellor His Highness the Aga Khan in building partnerships across cultures and borders.

He noted how innovation occurs at the intersections of various disciplines and geographies. Developing such initiatives requires a creative mindset, attention to detail, teamwork and a realisation that one needs to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds.

While quoting a speech by the Aga Khan on the importance of education in findings answers to society’s challenges, Mr Moedas said: “The deficit of knowledge is in many areas which are not being offered in education. What has been inherited is curricula of the past, reflections of the past, attitudes of the past rather than looking forward and asking what future generations need to know.”

He noted that: “And that discussion today which seems to be discussing about multilateralism or discussing politics, is actually not about politics. It’s about education and about education in a world that has changed so much but the educational systems didn’t change. And you look at the world that we were born, a world where everything was basically streamlined. Everything was about geography, about disciplines, about borders, and the world today is about intersections. And I think that that’s where education should be.”

Mr Rasul noted that a belief in the transformative potential of knowledge and in expanding access to opportunity and was central to the AKU’s founding in 1983 as Pakistan’s first private university, and instrumental to its expansion across three continents since 2000.

He said: “We have awarded 15,000 degrees and diplomas to date – two-thirds of them to women. We treat 2 million patients per year at our hospitals, many of whom live in poverty… our alumni can be found at the world’s best hospitals and universities, as well as in remote schools and clinics in Asia and Africa. The health research of our faculty is internationally renowned, and has helped to save thousands of lives in disadvantaged communities.”

For more information, please contact:

Brian Peterson
Aga Khan University


The Aga Khan University (AKU) has a long record of collaborating successfully with other institutions, and goes out of its way to forge connections between the private and public sectors, the developed and developing worlds, urban and rural areas, ideas and faiths.  Its supporters and partners include various institutions in Portugal, but also the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the University of California, San Francisco; Johnson & Johnson; the World Bank; the World Health Organization and many others.

The Aga Khan University is a pioneering institution of higher education whose mission is to improve the quality of life in the developing world and beyond through world-class teaching, research and health-care delivery. It educates students for local and global leadership from campuses and teaching hospitals in six countries, primarily in Asia and Africa. The University generates new knowledge to solve problems that affect millions of people, especially the most vulnerable. AKU achieves international quality benchmarks and raise standards and aspirations in the countries in which we work. In partnership with governments and leading private-sector organisations, AKU works to build a world that values pluralism, encourages civil-society initiatives and provides opportunity to all. The University is a private, not-for-profit institution and an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network.