Other Projects in Sri Lanka

Sinhalese students eat large amounts of sugar resulting in poor dental hygiene. Our goal was to present a 3-day dental clinic at the Sri Sumangala Girls’ College with the leadership of our colleagues Dr. Christian Robin and Carole Chappuis from Geneva in January 2011. The goal of the clinic was to raise awareness amongst the students and teachers about the importance of regular dental hygiene to prevent cavities and infections. The clinic was a great success and highly appreciated by the students and teachers and their parents who learned about the importance of dental hygiene.

Carole, Christian with students

English Teacher, Carole, Ann and Christian

Carole Teaching students how to brush their teeth

Carole, Christian examining teeth

Ann and Gabor organized a Brain Awareness Day in 2009, 2011 and 2016 in collaboration with Professor Ranil de Silva, University of Sri Jayewardenepura – a national campaign dedicated to the benefit of the general public in advancing public awareness about brain diseases and disorders, and how to keep the brain young and healthy.

  • In Weligama at the Sri Sumangala Girls’ College, November 2009
  • In Jaffna at the university of Jaffna medical faculty and boys’ high school, January 2011
  • In Nuwara Eliya at the Gamini National School, January 2016 (see photos below)

Other seminars were held:

  • In Colombo at the university of Sri Jayewardenepura on “Biotechnology Techniques in Neuroscience” and “Drug Discovery – how modern medicines are discovered” by Gabor, January 2011
  • At the university of Sri Jayewardenepura on “Plant Extracts from Sri Lanka for the Treatment of Wounds” by Gabor and “MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses): a technology revolution for university eaching” by Ann, January 2014
  • At the University of Sri Jayewardenepura on “The Neuroscience of Meditation and Mindfulness” by Ann, January 2015

Dr. Ranil De Silva, Students, Ann and Gabor

Teachers and speakers at the Sri Sumangala school

Dr. Ranil De Silva, Ann and Gabor in Jaffna

Teachers and speakers Jaffna Faculty of Medicine

Students and speakers in Jaffna school

Ann speaking in Jaffna school

Gabor talking about the brain at the Sri Lanka Medical Association

  • Brain Awareness Day was held at the Gamini National School in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka on January 12th 2016.
  • Nuwara Eliya is a charming town (called Little England) with a population of 27,000 at an altitude of 1800 metres. The town is located amongst the beautiful tea plantations.
  • Ann and her husband, Gabor, organized Brain Awareness Day along with Professor Ranil de Silva from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura (Colombo). Professor de Silva was joined by his staff and PhD students to assist in the event.
  • Some 222 students (grades 9 to 11) from 4 different schools in the region along with 53 healthcare workers participated throughout the day. Ann and Gabor Kato gave two introductory lectures on the brain and its functioning followed by a lecture on the importance food and exercise to keep the brain young and healthy.

Students entering the auditorium

Students entering the auditorium

The afternoon was devoted to brain games, quizzes and “hands-on” demonstrations about the brain. The students loved the games, films and quizzes and they often roared with laughter during these sessions. We are grateful to Dr. Ana Rodriguez of the Portuguese Neuroscience Society for suggesting these activities.


Gabor’s presentation with Nalaka translating

Each child was asked to make a drawing of a brain or a neuron. A prize was given for the best drawing by a boy and a girl. We were very impressed by the artistic skill of the students as well as to the attention they paid throughout the day.

Best drawing award

Ann, Gabor and Dr. Ranil de Silva with his students

The inauguration ceremony began with the lighting of the butter lamp (a Buddhist tradition), three lectures by local clinicians followed by a rice and curry lunch offered by the Lion’s Club of Nuwara Eliya. Other support was provided by the Director of Health Services and Zonal Director of Education, local banks and Caran d’Ache (Switzerland) that offered pens and pencils to the students.

The day was closed with the awarding of a prize for the two best drawings. It was very difficult to choose as so many were of high quality. Each participant received a formal certificate of their participation in Brain Awareness Day.

Certificate of participation

Father Rodriguez, Ann and students at Our Lady Upper School (OLUS) Nuwara Eliya

Ann and Gabor have been mentoring graduate students in neuroscience who are working in the laboratory of Professor Ranil de Silva at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura since 2012.

Dr. De Silva’s laboratory

Ann, Dr. De Silva and graduate students

Ann, Gabor, Dr. De Silva and graduate students

Dr. De Silva and Graduate Students

In November 2008 Ann and Gabor participated in house reconstruction works on houses destroyed by the 2004 tsunami. This was a great opportunity to have a close contact with the locals and see what the Canadian NGO (DWC)( http://www.developingworldconnections.org/ ) was doing in the area.