Athula Sumathipala is Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Primary, Community and Social Care at Keele University. He is also Emeritus Professor of Global Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London. He is Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the, Midland Partnership Foundation NHS Foundation Trust and also the Honorary Director of the Institute for Research and Development in Sri Lanka. He graduated in Sri Lanka with a MBBS and obtained qualifications as a family physician, a Diploma in Family Medicine and a MD. He migrated to UK where he retrained as a psychiatrist at the Maudesley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals and obtained MRCPsych and also Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST). He also earned a PhD at University of London. His greatest contribution throughout his academic and research career is the establishment of the Institute for Research and Development in Health and Social Care in Sri Lanka.
Professor Sumathipala is internationally recognized for his pioneering research on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the treatment of medically unexplained symptoms in Sri Lanka. Some of this work is now replicated in UK and Vietnam in collaboration with colleagues from Australia.
His research interests are around the epidemiology of chronic disease and multimorbidity, especially physical and mental illness combinations, evaluation and implementation of complex interventions.
Sumathipala is the research lead of the Sri Lankan Twin Registry which is a unique resource: one of the few large scale functioning population based registries for twin and genetic research in a low and middle income country . It started in a single room in 2000 and received the highest national recognition in 2018 through to the award by the National Science Foundation in Sri Lanka: Individual outstanding leadership in promoting and developing science and technology. He has received over 30 research grants from the Wellcome Research Trust Psychiatric Research Trust UK, National Health and Medical Research Council Australia, WHO, World Bank, and Medical Research Council UK and authored more than 10 book chapters published by prestigious Oxford University Press and Cambridge University press.
Professor Sumathipala also has an international reputation in bioethics. He received the prestigious traveling professorship from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 2007. He has been elected by the Royal College of Psychiatrist as a fellow and also appointed to the editorial board of the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2018.