Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana completed his Ph.D. in International Development at the Yokohama National University, Japan. He has an undergraduate degree in medicine (specialising in Ayurveda – India’s traditional medicine) from Bharathiyar University, India and a master’s degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Currently he is a Visiting Research Fellow at the United Nations University-International Institute of Global Health (UNU-IIGH).
From 1995, he has been working with the University of Transdisciplinary Health Sciences and Technology () based in Bangalore, India on various projects related to traditional medicine and community health. His work focused primarily on the research and application of traditional medicine to meet primary health care in local communities, and scoping out their relevance in public health policy. Earlier, he was a Senior House Surgeon at the (1994-1995) and also a Visiting Associate Professor at the Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Japan (2003-2004). He was a doctoral and postdoctoral fellow at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). In his role as Research Coordinator and Senior Visiting Research Fellow of the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) programme at UNU-IAS, he was involved with the Regional Centres of Expertise and the ProSPER.Net networks hosted by the institute. He is a co-coordinator of the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative, a multi-partner network promoting biodiversity, ecosystems and health. He holds a Visiting Professorship at the University of Transdisciplinary Health Sciences and Technology, Bangalore, India.
He has co-authored and edited several books, journal articles and book chapters in the field of traditional medicine, health system studies, traditional knowledge, biodiversity and sustainable development. His main research interests include traditional medicine in health systems, public health, medical pluralism, traditional knowledge epistemology, science-policy interface and sustainable development.