Exposure to toxic levels of stress and violence in pregnancy or early life can have lasting health impacts. In Pakistan, where the under-five mortality rate is 67 deaths per 1,000 live births, researchers Alexandra Harrison, MD, and Elizabeth Levey, MD—both Assistant Professors of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School—are exploring ways to reverse stress levels and their impacts. As 2022 LMSAI faculty grant winners, their project designs a comprehensive training system for lady health workers (LHW), a common practice across low-resource areas of South Asia that provides pre- and postnatal care. Dr. Harrison and Dr. Leavey’s training system, Building Baby Brains (BBB), equips the LHW with the tools they need to support the infant-caregiver relationship, with the goal of ultimately increasing the neurodevelopment—and decreasing the mortality—of children in rural Pakistan.
Category : Faculty
Deep in a bank vault of Mumbai’s Asiatic Society lies a revered treasure that is much studied in textbooks but rarely seen. The early 16th-century painted manuscript (dated 1516 CE), one of the oldest of its kind in the world, requires a committee’s approval to see the light of day – a committee that had remained elusive to Prof. Jinah Kim, an expert in South Asian art, for years. But last September, her proposal to study the painted manuscript finally got the go-ahead, and capturing the color from the rare piece of work may just change the study of South Asian art – and maybe all of Asian art – forever.
Throughout its 150th anniversary year, Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ GSAS Voices is foregrounding the stories of some of its most remarkable alumni and students as they speak about their work, its impact, and their experiences at the School. Diana Eck, PhD ’76, is a Mittal Institute steering committee member and professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard University, where she also served as a faculty dean of Lowell House. Eck talks about her decades of work studying the religious traditions of India, the founding of the Pluralism Project, and how she learned to teach as a student at GSAS.
Jay Iyer ’25, a Molecular & Cellular Biology and Statistics dual concentrator, is working to unlock the secrets of rare brain disease. He spent a summer interning at three hospitals across India, where he explored the state of neurological healthcare and worked to pitch a new iPad application that uses machine-learning to aid in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. He shares a personal account of his experience with neurological diseases, and his quest for further medical innovations.
On Friday, March 24, President Ranil Wickremesinghe joined the Harvard community live from Sri Lanka for a discussion moderated by professors Tarun Khanna, Harvard Business School, and Asim Khwaja, Harvard Kennedy School. The event, co-sponsored by the Center for International Development at Harvard and the Mittal Institute, covered a wide range of topics, from the recently announced IMF deal to social, economic, and political reforms to human rights issues and the way forward for the country.
This past fall, Harvard University welcomed Prof. Martha Selby as the Sangam Professor of South Asian Studies. She joined us from the University of Texas at Austin, where she taught since 1999. A scholar of South Asian literature, she shared more about her work and previewed her upcoming April 6 talk on “Sangam Tamil Lecture – Loss in Love and War: On Grief and Longing in Old Tamil Poetry.”
Shikha Kukreti, Lancet Citizens’ Commission Researcher, Explores COVID’s Impact on Healthcare Workers
As we enter the fourth year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Shikha Kukreti, MPH, BDS, is focused on exploring the attitude of healthcare workers to vaccines, and their psychological wellbeing during the pandemic. A researcher with the Lancet Citizens Commission and a Ph.D. candidate at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, Shikha is spending the spring at the Mittal Institute. We spoke with her about her project.
The Mittal Institute has embarked on a major climate change initiative focused on South Asia, hosted at our Harvard Global Research Support Center India, an affiliate of Harvard University. This focus comes as Harvard awarded the Mittal Institute two multi-year grants to catalyze climate change research in South Asia. To build on the initiative, the Mittal Institute will host an inaugural climate change workshop on March 30-31 in New Delhi. The sessions will convene an interdisciplinary group of experts, policymakers and academics to set collective research and strategic priorities. LMSAI Director Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School, spoke with us about LMSAI’s climate focus, and previewed the upcoming workshop.
The Mittal Institute annually supports faculty research projects that unite scholars from different fields and regions whose research relates to South Asia. Interdisciplinary scholarship, as well as projects that catalyze connectivity between scholars at Harvard and those in South Asia, are a funding priority. We are pleased to announce this year’s grant recipients—earning the highest individual funding amounts in Mittal Institute history—and their research initiatives.
For the 35th anniversary of Harvard’s Ghungroo—the longest-running student showcase of South Asian culture on campus—the production quality was bigger and better than ever. The event featured musical acts, dancing, comedic entertainment, and much more. We interviewed student organizers Sarah R. Ramberran ’24, Shraddha Joshi ’24 and Harini Kannan ‘24 for a behind-the-scenes look at what went into planning this beloved campus event.
From New York City to Nepal: How Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Became a Leading Scholar of Hindu-Christian Studies
Francis X. Clooney, a born and bred New Yorker, was following a fairly traditional path toward Jesuit priesthood when he took an unexpected detour that would change his religious and world view forever. Clooney, now Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard, is a leading scholar in the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions of Hindu India and the developing field of comparative theology. He has written numerous books, including Hindu God, Christian God (2001) and the more recent Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics (2019). How he found himself at the forefront of Hindu-Christian studies began in 1973 with a trip to Kathmandu, where different religious traditions were not just in books but all around him.