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Gulamabbas Lakha

BA, PGDip, MA, MPhil, MSc, CFA


DPhil Candidate & Tutor

  • Neuroscience, Ethics & Society Research Group
  • Ethox Centre Research Group
  • Tutor in Psychology of Religion

Personalised mental health and religious ethics

My current research project is a doctorate in Psychiatry, within the Neuroscience, Ethics & Society team, investigating how faith based concepts and practices can be harnessed to improve accessibility and adherence to interventions for depression, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and mindfulness based approaches, with specific regard to depression in the UK Muslim population. This process involves working with patients, practitioners and policy makers, within an empirical ethics methodological framework, working with Professor Ilina Singh (Department of Psychiatry) and Dr Michael Dunn (Nuffield Department of Population Health, Ethox Centre).


I am also interested in the neuroscience of religious experience, having undertaken a pilot study comparing EEG neural correlates of an Islamic mindfulness practice (dhikr) and a common breath-based meditation from NHS approved interventions. Future developments to this research are planned using fMRI neural imaging techniques.

 

Teaching commitments form a growing component of my activities, including lectures, tutorials, seminars and research supervision on Mental Health and Religion, Psychology of Religion, Islamic Studies, and Medical Ethics, across different academic departments and colleges.

 

A diverse professional and academic background has created a passion for combining multiple disciplines to develop new mental health treatments, drawing upon my community work over the last decade and recent postgraduate studies in psychology, neuroscience, Islamic studies, history and theology.  My previous research includes empirical studies on how ʾakhlāq (ethical and psychological teachings from Islam) may contribute to treating depression and anxiety.  Prior to that I worked with early Arabic primary sources to investigate the reception history of Al-Ṣaḥīfa al-Sajjādiyya, one of the earliest Islamic prayer manuals, that is rich in positive psychology, commentaries of which had not previously been studied in Western scholarship.

 

My professional background over the last two decades is in quantitative finance and currently manage an investment firm I founded fourteen years ago, having originally graduated in Economics & Econometrics and subsequently awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. 


Community engagement has been a key activity over the last decade and I am actively involved in working with faith communities across the UK, which serves as a constant reminder about the need for practical applications of research, particularly with regard to how existing frameworks in daily life (such as religious practices) can be harnessed for therapeutic benefit and promoting mental health.