Charles Masaki (2021)

I attended medical school at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and subsequently a PhD at the University of Oxford, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Generous grants from the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) introduced me to the world of Neuroscience, and the privilege of membership to an inspiring community of researchers across Universities in Africa and Asia.

Inspired by the work of Rita Balice-Gordon (then at Penn), I went to graduate school hoping to study glutamate signaling. After short lab rotations trying out different methodologies: IPS cell cultures, optogenetics, electrophysiology — I soon realized that I was not quite cut out for the wet-bench. The patch-clamp was the last straw. I was a few days away from destroying the confocal microscope and quitting graduate school, when I found myself at the lab of Prof. Phil Cowen and Catherine Harmer at the University of Oxford. With them, I utilized neuroimagining techniques (predominantly Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy), as well as computer based cognitive assessments, combined with drug trials, to investigate neurochemistry of mood disorders. For each project, I found a glutamatergic basis for pretty much any phenomenon.

As I start PGY3, I am looking forward to spending more time at the MGH Depression Clinical and Research Program (DCRP) and the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. My projects will focus on understanding neurobiology of suicidal ideation through studying brain structural and connectivity patterns. I will also be working at the MGH TMS and Ketamine clinics, in addition to continuing research into antidepressant mechanisms of both established and novel pharmacologic agents. Outside the lab, I treasure moments spent mentoring students at Harvard College (Adams House), collaborations with fellow researchers globally, and fellowshipping with my church community.


University of Oxford, DPhil, 2016
University of Oxford, M.S., 2013
University of Nairobi, MBChB, 2011
University of Nairobi, B.S., 2008



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2016: CINP 30th Congress Student Encouragement Award

2016: Royal College of Psychiatrists Best Psychopharmacology Poster Prize

2012: Rhodes Scholarship