Born in Gojam, northern part of Ethiopia, Atalay Alem (Prof.), married and a father of two, is among few Ethiopians specialized in the field of psychiatry. Graduating from Addis Ababa University in 1983 in medicine, Atalay first worked as a junior medical officer and later as a medical director at Adigrat District Hospital. A year later, he joined Amanuel Hospital, the only psychiatric hospital in the country where he gained three years of experience in mental healthcare. Soon after, he received training in clinical psychiatry at Victoria University of Manchester, UK.
Nine years later, he attained his Ph D. at Umeå University in Sweden. After returning to Ethiopia, Atalay worked for tof Amanuel Mental Hospital as a psychiatrist for many years and then as a medical director of the Hospital for six years before joining Addis Ababa University as an Assistant Professor in 2000. He also led the establishment of the College of Health Science as a separate and autonomous entity under the auspices of Addis Ababa University a decade ago.