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The Department of Parasitology brings together a variety of staff and resources that create an environment conductive for the teaching and learning of Medical Parasitology. The teaching is focused on the biological, immunological, epidemiological, and ecological aspects of protozoan and helminth diseases of humans, including the vectors that transmit parasitic infections. Additionally, the department also functions as a diagnostic centre for parasitological infections and is considered a reference laboratory for the diagnosis of parasitic infections, particularly for malaria and leishmaniasis.

The Department of Parasitology is recognized globally for the research carried out with regard to various aspects of medical parasitology, with emphases on malaria, filariasis, soil transmitted helminthiasis, leishmaniasis and zoonoses. The department (including the Malaria Research Unit which was recently renamed as the Parasitic Diseases Research Unit) continues to be a strong research and teaching resource for students having trained more than 34 PhD / M. Phil graduates. The members of the academic staff maintain ties with international institutions such as the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, USA; Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, UK; Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, UK; University of Nagasaki, Japan; the National Institute of Health, USA and The Centers for Disease Control, USA to name a few.

The Field Research Station (Malaria Research Unit) was established way back in 1984 in Kataragama (Monaragala district, Uva province) by the Department of Parasitology to support malaria field research, and is now utilized for epidemiological research in many parasitic infections.