Meet the Board:
The Neuroscience Foundation for Africa is a registered non-profit organization based in Michigan, USA with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status currently pending. Founded in 2017 by Dr. Justin Thomas and Dr. Troy Dawley, the NFA recruited a team from around the world to help achieve the goals of bringing help to Africa and educate the next generation of
leaders in medicine and international health care.
Justin Thomas, D.O.
Co-Founder of the Neuroscience Foundation for Africa, Royal Oak, Michigan, USA
Dr. Thomas is currently a Michigan State University neurosurgery resident at Ascension Providence Hospitals in southeast Michigan, USA. Justin is originally from Chicago, Illinois but considers himself a native of Michigan. He earned several degrees from MSU between 2005 to 2014 including his Doctrine in Osteopathic Medicine in 2014. His neurosurgical interests include complex pediatric and adult spinal disorders and endovascular neurosurgery.
Justin (more commonly known as "JT" to most people) was fortunate to participate in three study abroad programs during his undergraduate career at MSU and he developed a spirit to travel to as many unique places as he could in his lifetime. Justin has now traveled to all seven continents and over 40 different nations since his first trip abroad to Antarctica with Michigan State University in 2006.
Justin also realized very early as a medical provider that education is life-long. While on vacation in Kenya during the winter of 2016, Justin was amazed by the polarizing differences in healthcare abroad and found a new a passion to combine his medical training as a neurosurgeon with his love for both travel and helping people. After re-connecting with some colleagues at Michigan State University who liked a few ideas, he started the Neuroscience Foundation for Africa with his resident colleague, Dr. Troy Dawley and a team of advisors from all over the world. He is committed to developing sustainable study abroad programs to East Africa with the goal of educating all participants about international health care while at the same time provide a unique service to a community in need.
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”
~ Winston Churchill
Troy Dawley, D.O.
Co-Founder of the Neuroscience Foundation for Africa, Ferndale, Michigan, USA
Dr. Dawley is currently a neurosurgery resident at Michigan State University, Ascension Providence Hospitals. Troy, originally from Flower Mound, TX, completed a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry at The University of Texas at Tyler. He then received his medical degree at The University of North Texas Health Science Center, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. His neurosurgical interests include neuro-oncology, spinal deformity and minimally invasive spine surgery.
His life’s passion is patient care and this led to helping Dr. Thomas develop the neurosurgery camp in Kenya. Dr. Dawley realized that Kenya is in need of help with neurosurgery and he believes this is a wonderful opportunity to serve others.
Through his help developing Neuroscience Foundation for Africa and the development of a sustainable Neurosurgery camp in Kenya, there is much to learn for all participants. The foundation of this medical trip is collaboration, international medicine education and most importantly, service of patients in need.
Ratnesh N. Mehra, DO
Board Member, Neuroscience Foundation for Africa, Washington, DC, USA
Dr. Mehra is a neurosurgeon with the Michigan Head and Spine Institute, an assistant professor of neurological surgery at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and clinical instructor of neurological surgery at Michigan State University. He grew up in Washington, D.C., completed a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology at The George Washington University, and then received his medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his neurosurgical residency training at Michigan State University followed by a complex and minimally invasive spine fellowship at University of California San Francisco. In his medical career, Dr. Mehra has been an invited speaker at national meetings and has published several papers and book chapters.
In addition to his medical interests, Dr. Mehra has been involved in television and media production with Global Television Network in the Washington, D.C. area. Through this, he has interacted with and assisted with many charitable organizations and events. Since 2015, he has hosted and emceed the annual gala for the DC chapter of Ekal Vidyalaya, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the education of underserved children in India.
Dr. Mehra met the co-founders of Neuroscience Foundation for Africa (NFA), Dr. Dawley and Dr. Thomas, through their common neurological surgery residency program. In addition to working well together inside the operating room, the three of them were enthused by the idea of creating this organization for education and treatment for those who need it. Dr. Mehra hopes to see this organization flourish by reaching as many people as possible through it’s efforts. He will bring his neurosurgical, public organization, and media production background to the table to help the NFA achieve it’s goals year after year.
In addition to his professional and charitable activites, Dr. Mehra enjoys photography, CrossFit, playing tennis, spending time with his family, and traveling.
“Doing good to others is the one great universal religion.” ~ Swami Vivekananda
Professor Nimrod Juniahs Mwang’ombe, MbChB, MMed, PhD
Advisor to the Neuroscience Foundation for Africa Board of Directors, Nairobi, Kenya
Professor Mwang’ombe is a Professor of Surgery at the University of Nairobi and Head of Neurosurgery at the School of Medicine, Kenyatta National Hospital Campus, Nairobi, Kenya. He is Program Director of the 6-year Neurosurgery Residency program based at the Kenyatta National Hospital. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya. He trained at the University of Nairobi School of Medicine, 1971-76 (MBChB) and passed the USA ECFMG examination (Certificate No: 261-767-8). He trained in General surgery at the Kenyatta National Hospital, 1977-1980, MMed General Surgery, University of Nairobi. He worked as a general surgeon, 1980-1982.
Dr. Mwang’ombe trained in neurosurgery at the neurosurgical unit, Kenyatta National Hospital (1982-1984) and at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, 1984-1990 (PhD). In 2000, he was the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, USA, visiting Fellow, McMaster University, Canada. In 2016, he was listed as one of the 100 most influential Africans by the New African Magazine for his contribution towards the development of neurosurgery in Africa. He sits on the editorial Board of the Panafrican Journal of Neurological Sciences and is the current President Panafrican Association of Neurological Sciences (PAANS).
Dr. Mwang’ombe met Dr. Justin Thomas early 2018 when he visited the neurosurgical unit, Kenyatta National Hospital to explore possible avenues of collaboration between Michigan State University and University of Nairobi Kenyatta National Hospital Campus. This meeting finally led to the formation of Neuroscience Foundation for Africa (NFA). The NFA will participate in the training of neurosurgeons in Africa through a scholarship fund, where the neurosurgeon to population ratio is currently 1:1,200,000 compared with the ideal ratio of 1:100,000.
“Every good act is charity. One’s true wealth hereafter is the good that one does in this world to others.” ~ Moliere
Michael Grosspietsch, PhD
Advisor to the Neuroscience Foundation for Africa Board of Directors, Berlin, Germany
Michael (Executive Director, Global Engagement Institute, Berlin, Germany) is the Founder and Executive Director of GEI, a private American institute that provides international students and professionals with high-impact education and engagement programs in Africa and Asia. A native of Germany, he has traveled to more than 65 countries and lived, studied or worked in a dozen of them, on five continents. His passions for global citizenship and sustainable development became his vocation. With offices in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Vietnam as well as headquarters in the US and Germany, GEI has become a pioneer in providing global citizenship education in the developing world.
Michael holds master’s degrees in international law (Paris/France), geopolitics and international relations (Toulouse/France) and responsible tourism management (London/UK) as well as a PhD in political science and development policies (Münster/Germany). His PhD dissertation analyzed the poverty-reducing role of tourism in Rwanda.
Constantly following the advice of his favorite quote “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” (Theodore Roosevelt), he brings expertise in international education, international development and the continent of Africa to NFA. His Kenyan team will be responsible for all in-country logistics, and he generally advises on the feasibility, scalability and sustainability of NFA’s high-impact work in the region.
Advisor to the Neuroscience Foundation for Africa Board of Directors, Beverly Hills, Michigan, USA
Born and raised in Michigan, Jon graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Advertising and Marketing and is currently Vice-President of Sales and Marketing in the Food Service Industry. Jon has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada with some travel to China and Japan. He was inspired by his brother Christopher at an early age to get involved with a charity to help people in need.
Jon has held several Board Positions with charities such as Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s Festival of Trees, Kids Kicking Cancer and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In addition, Jon’s company was a national partner with Susan G. Komen, which provides funding for Breast Cancer Research.
“It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts”
~ Mother Teresa