PeMSAA-UK
Peradeniya Medical School Alumni association United Kingdom
The International Academic Conference 2018
Profile of Speakers
Dr. Palitha Abeykoon MD

MPH Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), under the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka


Dr. Palitha Abeykoon is currently the Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), under the Ministry of Health, which has overall responsibility for tobacco and alcohol policy formulation and oversight in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Abeykoon had his secondary education at Trinity College Kandy, was in the pioneering batch of medical students who started the Peradeniya Medical School. He is the proud holder of the first record book from Peradeniya Faculty, number M 1. After a 2 tear period at the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital, he was also one of the first Peradeniya Alumni to join the Academic Staff of Peradeniya. While there, he went for his postgraduate education to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he earned two Masters degrees, in Medical Education and in Educational Technology. He also obtained a Masters in Public Health (MPH) Degree from Harvard University in Boston where he was awarded the Taro Takemi Senior Fellowship. He also completed the Diploma in Population and Health from the University of Geneva. He is a Fellow of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka, Fellow of the College of Medical Educationists of Sri Lanka and also an Honorary Fellow of the College of Medical Administrators of Sri Lanka.

Dr. Abeykoon served for over 12 years in the Peradeniya Medical Faculty in the Departments of Community Medicine and Medical Education. He was the Director of the first ever Medical Education Unit in the country and helped to establish the WHO Regional Teacher Training Centre at Peradeniya. Later he went on to establish National Medical Education Centres in each of the countries of the South East Asia Region with the support of the World Health Organization.

He then joined the World Health Organization and first served in Nepal and Indonesia as the Health Advisor to these countries. He helped to develop their health and education systems, including setting up the first Medical School in Nepal (IOM), and the Faculties of Public Health in Indonesia. Then he moved to the WHO Regional Office in New Delhi where, during the period from 1987 to 2009, he was first the Regional Advisor in Medical Education and Human Resources for Health, and thereafter consecutively the Director of Health Technology, Director of Health Systems, and later the Director of Non Communicable Disease Control.

He has a wide knowledge and experience in each of these areas and has lectured and written extensively on these subjects. During his assignment in the WHO Regional Office in India he also served as the WHO Representative to India for 2 years. He was the winner of Fred Katz Gold Medal from the Australian Medical Association for outstanding contribution to medical education in Asia and was a recipient of the prestigious Prof. Taro Takemi Award for Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. Recently he was awarded the prestigious WHO Director General’s No Tobacco Day Award for the outstanding contribution to prevent harm from tobacco in Sri Lanka.

Since his retirement he has been invited as an Advisor to the WHO and to the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka and is a Senior Research Fellow of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka. He led the formulation of the National Non Communicable Disease Policy, the first National Mental Health Policy and the National Medicinal Drugs Policy and coordinates its implementation. He also served as a Health Advisor to the Governments of Bhutan, Myanmar, Maldives, DPR Korea and Indonesia. Last year he also formulated the Health personnel Educational Strategy for Timor-Leste, the HRH policy of Bhutan and the National Health Policy of Myanmar. He also currently heads the Technical Committee for the development of the Health Sector Reorganization Project of the Ministry of Health and the World Bank.

He has delivered a large number of orations locally and abroad, and has contributed widely as author and reviewer to health and medical literature.


Dr Sethsiri Wijeratne MBBS, MD, FRCPath
Clinical Lead and Consultant Chemical Pathologist, Coventry and Warwickshire
Pathology Service


Dr Wijeratne entered to the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya Sri Lanka in 1982. He completed his internship at Peradeniya in 1991 and joined the Department of Pathology as a Lecturer in Pathology at the same medical faculty.  He completed his MD in Chemical Pathology, from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1999. During this period he worked at National Hospital in Sri Lanka and pioneered automation in Sri Lankan Chemical Pathology Laboratories. He played a key role in developing a major independent private laboratory.

In 1999 he moved to UK for his further education and worked at St .Thomas & Guys Hospitals and Kings College Hospital in London Prior to obtaining his FRCPath in 2004. He was appointed as Consultant chemical pathologist at Warwick Hospital and later joined University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire, Coventry as part of one of the largest pathology network. Currently he is the clinical lead for Biochemistry and Immunology in the network and closely involved with the Nuffield Health care as well as a Lead Pathology Advisor.

His current interests are provision of cost effective biochemistry service and facilitating research and innervation while providing Vascular Risk Factor clinical service and leading the department to adopt to  changing and vastly challenging health care provision.


Dr Jeyakumar Singanayagam, FRCSEd, FRCR, Consultant Radiologist, Milton Keynes University Hospital, United Kingdom.

Dr Jeyakumar entered medical school at University of Peradeniya in 1976. He obtained First class honours with distinctions in Physiology and Biochemistry in the 2nd MBBS. He was awarded a gold medal for the 2nd MBBS. Obtained 2nd class honours in the 3rd and Final MBBS with distinctions in Pharmacology, Forensic medicine and Paediatrics. He qualified as a doctor in July 1981.

He did internship at General Hospital Kandy following qualification and commenced General Surgical training in the Professorial Surgical Unit at the University of Peradeniya.

He continued with general surgical training in UK from 1984 to 1989 and obtained the FRCS from the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh in 1988. Dr Singanayagam changed speciality and commenced training in Diagnostic radiology at University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent in 1989. Completed Radiology training and was appointed as Consultant Radiologist at Queens Hospital, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire in 1996. Moved to Milton Keynes University Hospital in 2003 following the appointment as Consultant Radiologist.

Has been a Clinical Director in Radiology at both Queens Hospital, Burton on Trent and Milton Keynes University Hospital for a total period of 8 years. Clinical Tutor in Radiology in the last few years and is involved in the teaching of Registrars from the Oxford Radiology training scheme. Also undertakes regular teaching of specialty doctors in radiology and occasionally medical students from the University of Buckingham. Has also undertaken teaching of FY1 and FY2 doctors previously.

His main interest is in abdominal Imaging which includes the Gastro intestinal tract and Genito-Urinary Tract. He attends and presents cases regularly at the Upper GI, Colorectal, Gynaecology and Urology MDTs on a weekly basis.

Dr Jeyakumar Singanayagam, FRCSEd, FRCR
Consultant Radiologist, Milton Keynes University Hospital, United Kingdom.

Dr Jeyakumar entered medical school at University of Peradeniya in 1976. He obtained First class honours with distinctions in Physiology and Biochemistry in the 2nd MBBS. He was awarded a gold medal for the 2nd MBBS. Obtained 2nd class honours in the 3rd and Final MBBS with distinctions in Pharmacology, Forensic medicine and Paediatrics. He qualified as a doctor in July 1981.

He did internship at General Hospital Kandy following qualification and commenced General Surgical training in the Professorial Surgical Unit at the University of Peradeniya.

He continued with general surgical training in UK from 1984 to 1989 and obtained the FRCS from the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh in 1988. Dr Singanayagam changed speciality and commenced training in Diagnostic radiology at University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent in 1989. Completed Radiology training and was appointed as Consultant Radiologist at Queens Hospital, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire in 1996. Moved to Milton Keynes University Hospital in 2003 following the appointment as Consultant Radiologist.

Has been a Clinical Director in Radiology at both Queens Hospital, Burton on Trent and Milton Keynes University Hospital for a total period of 8 years. Clinical Tutor in Radiology in the last few years and is involved in the teaching of Registrars from the Oxford Radiology training scheme. Also undertakes regular teaching of specialty doctors in radiology and occasionally medical students from the University of Buckingham. Has also undertaken teaching of FY1 and FY2 doctors previously.

His main interest is in abdominal Imaging which includes the Gastro intestinal tract and Genito-Urinary Tract. He attends and presents cases regularly at the Upper GI, Colorectal, Gynaecology and Urology MDTs on a weekly basis.


Dr Gayathri Wathuge MBBS, Dip Path, MD, FRCPath
Consultant in Cellular pathology, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Dr Wathuge graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka in 2000. In 2003 she started postgraduate training in Histopathology at the Faculty of Medicine and the Teaching Hospital, Peradeniya. After completing the Diploma in Pathology (2003) and Doctor of Medicine in Histopathology (2008) she joined the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford where she completed a fellowship in Histopathology (2010).

She passed the FRCPath exam in 2012 and since then has been working as a consultant Cellular Pathologist for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. She is a general Histopathologist with a special interest in Lung, Breast and Gynaecological histopathology and non-gynaecological Cytopathology. Dr Wathuge is also interested in teaching and training and currently works as an Educational supervisor for Oxford Deanery and an Examiner for Royal College of Pathologists.

She has also created an honorary training post for Sri Lankan post graduate doctors for overseas training at Wycombe Hospital to support the Sri Lankan Histopathology post graduate training programme of PGIM Colombo.


Dr Nirupa Murugaesu MBBS PhD BSc MRCP
Consultant in Medical Oncology at St George’s Hospita l

Dr Murugaesu qualified from UCL Medical School in 2001. After completing her general medical training in London, she trained in Medical Oncology at St Bartholomew’s and University College London Hospitals and completed a PhD at The Institute of Cancer Research in 2011. Following which, she completed a Clinical Lectureship in The Translational Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory at University College London and The Francis Crick Institute with an academic research interest in tracking cancer evolution through therapy.

Dr Murugaesu is a Consultant in Medical Oncology at St George’s Hospital and the Clinical Lead for Molecular Oncology for the 100,000 Genomes Cancer Programme. This role includes clinical leadership and oversight of the Cancer Programme which aims to establish a national research platform of molecular data linked to longitudinal clinical data and to transform delivery of molecular testing in NHS clinical cancer care.

Professor Wickii Thambiah Vigneswaran, MD, MBA
Director of Thoracic Surgery at Loyola University Health System and System Director of Edwards and Elmhurst Health, in Chicago, USA.

He graduated from the University of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya in 1978. He completed his early training in surgery and cardiothoracic surgery in UK and continued his advanced training in the US. He trained in many prestigious institutions in UK and USA, such as University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, Imperial College in London, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Mayo Clinic. He held appointments as Professor and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center, and Professor and Associate Chief of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery at University of Chicago before returning as the Director of Thoracic Surgery at Loyola University Health System. Professor Vigneswaran received his Master in Business Administration in Leadership and Adjusting to Change from Concordia University.

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians of Canada and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is the Past President of the International College of Surgeons of US Section, former Trustee of the American College of Chest Physicians and a member of the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association.

Professor Vigneswaran has authored more than 110 original peer reviewed scientific articles and over 90 brief communication, book chapters and videos related to his field. He has edited three seminal medical books on Lung Transplantation and Thoracic Surgery. He is an invited lecturer in many institutions around the world. He is appointed as a visiting Professor at Ricardo Palma University in Lima, Peru. He is a Member or Fellow of many National and International professional societies, including Royal Society of Medicine. Professor Vigneswaran is a recipient of many honours and awards.

He is listed in Who is Who, named as Man of the Year in Medicine and Healthcare in 2012 by the American Biographical Society and listed as Top Cardiothoracic Surgeon in US News and World Report every year for the past 10 years. His research interest includes lung transplantation, robotic thoracic surgery, outcome research, tumor and transplant immunology. He enjoys travelling and participating in voluntary medical missions. He has served as a voluntary Physician and Surgeons, in Sri Lanka (multiple times), Honduras, Vietnam, Cambodia and Ethiopia. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends during spare time.

Dr James Flanagan
Senior Lecturer in the Epigenetics Unit, Dept. of Surgery, Imperial College, London

Dr Flanagan completed his PhD in 2002 at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, and has pursued postdoctoral work in Cancer Genetics (QIMR 2002-2004), Epigenetics (University of Toronto 2004-2006) and Cancer Epigenetics (UCL, 2006-2009). He was awarded a Breast Cancer Campaign Scientific Fellowship (Imperial, 2009-2014) and is now a Senior Lecturer in the Epigenetics Unit, Dept. of Surgery, Imperial College (2014-present).

His work addresses the hypothesis that epigenetic variation may be a driver of cancer risk whether by inherent constitutional variation or as a mediator of other cancer risk factors. Recent work has focussed on cancer risk and prevention for both breast and ovarian cancer. He was awarded the British Association of Cancer Research Translational Researcher Award in 2011.


Professor Sunil Wimalawansa, MD, PhD
Executive MBA, DSc, a graduate (1970 batch) from Medical School, Peradeniya.

When he was a medical student, he was a member of Sri Lankan hockey team and junior soccer team and represented six different sports’ teams for the university. Consequently, awarded the best, all-round sportsman of the year in 1974. He started the University Environment and Explores Clubs, and the Sri Lanka Explorer’ Club in early 1970s; he climbed Himalayas in 1972 and climb-down the World’s end escarpment in 1973.
He is a former University Professor, Professor of Medicine, Chief of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Nutrition, renowned expert in endocrinology; osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease, vitamin D and nutrition. He holds numerous distinctions as an educator, author, researcher, innovator, executive board member, an administrator, and philanthropist. His research interests include osteoporosis, metabolic bone diseases, obesity, nutrition, CKD, and type 2 diabetes. He has over 250 publications and written several books.

His medical and scientific innovations include, the development of once-a-week bisphosphonate therapy, combination therapies for osteoporosis, treatment model for preeclampsia, technique to enhance bisphosphonates efficiency, and cost-effective therapies like vitamin E and nitric oxide donor regimens for osteoporosis. In 1984, he developed the ground-breaking, intra-operative hormone assays to assist endocrine surgical procedures. This procedure is now used worldwide, as the standard of care. In addition to several young investigators scientific awards, he also had Dr. Boy Frame Award for Excellence in Metabolic Bone Diseases, American Endocrine Society Glen Foundation Awards, and innovation award from Asian Chamber of Commerce. He received a coveted Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to science and medicine in 2004 and Dr. Oscar Gluck International Humanitarian Award in 2007 for his global humanitarian contributions. He served on many national and international scientific committees, including the NIH, VA, DEA, and NASA.


Ivan Finch LMPA; LRPS
Town and Country Photographic was founded in 1995 by multi award winning photographer

Ivan’s experience in photography started at an early age, being part of a photographic family.  After leaving school he studied photography at The Kingsway Princeton College in Central London. Ivan worked in several laboratories and studios in the London area gaining experience in many different fields of photography.  He also worked for several years as a cruise ship photographer which allowed him to travel on some of the worlds most prestigious cruise liners, in some of the worlds most exotic locations. He left this enviable position in 1995 to found his own business.

Ivan is a qualified member of The Royal Photographic Society and The Master Photographers Association. He also has three City and Guilds distinctions in various disciplines of photography and is the current chairman of The London Portrait Group. In recent years Ivan's portrait photography has evolved and he is working with the environment and natural light more than ever.  Ivan is proud to still have clients from when he founded his business in 1995.

Living close to London Ivan enjoys days and evenings exploring and taking photographs in our great city. He is has a wide and varied taste in the arts and enjoys watching classic Hollywood films. Ivan also enjoys going to the gym and is a keen motorcyclist!


Prof Nadarajah Sreeharan MD FRCP PhD FACP

Visiting Professorships at King’s College, London, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka and in Malaysia and acts as a Consultant to the Biotechnology Industry.

He graduated from the University of Colombo with 1st class honours in 1970, subsequently completing the MD (Colombo), MRCP(UK) and a PhD at the British Heart Foundation Department of Cardiovascular Studies in Leeds, UK. Following a period as Senior Lecturer at the University of Peradeniya, he assumed the Foundation Chair in Medicine at the University of Jaffna in 1980, where he also functioned as the Clinical Sub-Dean.

Prof Sreeharan left Sri Lanka following the civil strife and after a period as Visiting Professor of Cardiology at the University of Alberta, Canada, he joined the Global R&D organisation at GlaxoSmithKline where as Senior Vice President and European Medical Director, he chaired a medical department based across the European countries with oversight for the research & development of new medicines. He led teams which developed the first non-ergot selective dopamine agonist for Parkinson’s Disease (Ropinirole), the first beta blocker for Heart Failure (Carvedilol), an insulin sensitiser for Type 2 Diabetes (Rosiglitazone), a combination steroid/LABA for COPD (Seretide), an SSRI for depression/anxiety spectrum (Paroxetine), a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor for BPH (Dutasteride),and a topoisomerase inhibitor for Ovarian and Small cell Lung cancers (Topotecan).

Prof Sreeharan is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow and the American College of Physicians and has authored several publications and book chapters. As an Officer of the Board of Examiners in Pharmaceutical Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians, an advisor to the National Board of Medical Examiners in the US and a faculty to the Scholars in Clinical Science Program at the Harvard Medical School, he facilitated the international development of Pharmaceutical Medicine as an accredited medical specialty.