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Athula Sumathipala

Professor of Psychiatry , Keele University

I was qualified in Sri Lanka and was trained as a family physician. I migrated to the UK in 1992 and was re-trained as a psychiatrist at the Maudesley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals. I then obtained the MRCPsych and completed the specialist training as a Liaison psychiatrist. After that I followed an academic career and completed a PhD from University of London.

I started the research career with an interest in medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) when I was a GP in Sri Lanka. My first research project which formed the basis of my MD was an epidemiological study of MUS. My work extended from observational epidemiology to intervention studies. I have conducted two clinical trials of CBT for the treatment of MUS in Sri Lanka. These are among a handful of such complex intervention trials of mental disorders from low and middle income countries. This work is now replicated in Vietnam in collaboration with colleagues from Australia. My research interests are centred on inter-connected disciplines. These are the epidemiology of chronic disease and multi-morbidity, especially physical and mental illness combinations; evaluation and implementation of complex interventions, using twin methods in the study of illness aetiology and ethics related to research.


  • 2014–present
    Professor of Psychiatry , Research Institute for Primary Care & Health Sciences, Keele University
  • 2014–present
    Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist,, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.


  • 2004 
    University of London, PhD
  • 1999 
    Specialist Training Authority of Royal Colleges, UK, CCST
  • 1996 
    Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK, MRCPsych
  • 1991 
    Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, MD
  • 1985 
    Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo , DFM
  • 1980 
    Faculty of Medicine Colombo Sri Lanka , MBBS