Manjula Weerasinghe

I grew up in a beautiful city called “Bandarawela’’ – one of the cities with the healthiest climates in the world – where I had my primary and secondary education.

I obtained my first degree in Biological Science from the Faculty of Science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, in 2003. As an undergraduate, I won the Best Commended Research Paper award in 2003 for researching Porphyrin deliveries (eco-friendly chemicals) to kill dengue mosquito larvae. After graduation, I worked as a Research Assistant at the Postgraduate Institute of Science (PGIS) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to study resistance to antimalarials and heavy metal contamination of groundwater after the tsunami in 2004, respectively.

In 2005, I started to work as a Researcher in the South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration (SACTRC) where I got an opportunity to work closely with many local and international toxicologists. Then, I completed my Master degree in Disaster Management in the same University in 2010.  I also completed Master module in Health in Emergencies from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

My doctoral degree was completed in public health in 2017. My main research interest is to reduce the number of pesticide suicides – a key global means of suicide. To do this, I perform community-based controlled trials to identify effective public health interventions. My research involves closely working with toxicologists, sociologists, and anthropologists in many parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America to better understand the meaning of self-harm and to test novel interventions.

I’m affiliated with the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka as Post-Doctoral Researcher. I also work as an honorary research fellow at the University of Edinburgh and a Research Associate/country representative at the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention.

If my ongoing studies are effective, they offer the possibility of a major regional impact, preventing hundreds of thousands of acts of self-poisoning and saving tens of thousands of lives each year. These studies will be offering a good chance of making significant progress in global suicide prevention.