Department of Clinical Medicine – Research

The Department has a strong research culture. Academics of the Department conduct clinical research on a range of topics, with key focus on research in tropical and infectious disease, herpetology, toxicology, nephrology, non-communicable diseases, and medical education. They lead several important research programs including collaborative research with overseas institutions of excellence. The research output of the department has progressively increased over the years, and currently the department has the highest output of research publications in the faculty.

Academics in the department have delivered several orations, and received numerous national research awards, including the University Award for Excellence in Research, the CVCD award for Excellence in Research, and several Presidential Awards for research, the Wijerama Award, and many others.

he Diabetes Research Unit (DRU) was established in May 2005 with the objective of carrying out multidisciplinary research in diabetes, metabolic diseases and cardiovascular disease in Sri Lanka that will ultimately help us developing strategies for primary prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and better clinical care.

Dr. Prasad Katulanda was instrumental in establishing the Diabetes Research Unit as a collaborative effort between the Department of Clinical Medicine and the Oxford Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism UK. Several projects have been undertaken by the DRU during this short period of time.

Sri Lanka Young Diabetes Study (SLYDS) aims at studying the aetiology and epidemiology of young adult onset diabetes in Sri Lanka. A sample of 1007 young adults has been recruited into this study.

Sri Lanka Diabetes and Cardiovascular Study is an epidemiological study undertaken by the DRU at investigating the epidemiology of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Sri Lanka. A random sample of 5000 adults will be screened in all provinces in Sri Lanka except North and East under this study. The National Science Foundation is the major funding partner of this study. This study is expected to be completed in 2006. Prof. Rezvi Sheriff, Dr. Prasad Katulanda and Dr. Godwin Constantine are instrumental in organising this study.

We have undertaken a project to develop a bibliography of Non-communicable diseases in Sri Lanka and to study the attitudes and experiences of local physicians on selected NCDs.

The DRU is working in close collaboration with the Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka, Endocrinology and Diabetes units of the National Hospital and Colombo South Hospital of Sri Lanka, Reproductive and Endocrine laboratory of the Faculty of Medicine, World Health Organisation officials in Sri Lanka and many local physicians and researchers.

The Snake Venom Research Laboratory and Herpetarium evolved from the Oxford Colombo Collaboration on research into snakebite envenoming. This was established in 2002, and is Sri Lanka’s pioneer centre for research and development in snakebite. The SVRLH aims to be a source of snake venom to be utilised for research and antivenom production both locally and abroad, by establishing a network of rural venom collection sources.  This laboratory coordinates and encourages local research in snake venom, and is working towards the production of antivenom. In addition it provides the public and doctors with current and up to date guidance on managing patients with snakebite, and conducts workshops and seminars for medical students, postgraduate trainees and healthcare workers on identification of snakes and antivenom treatment.


  • Be a source of snake venom to be utilized for research and antivenom production for Sri Lanka either locally or abroad.
  • Encourage a network of rural venom collection sources by providing training and know how to rural farmer groups.
  • Encourage local research in various aspects of venom research and work towards the goal of transfer of technology to produce antivenom for snake bites locally.
  • Be a centre to provide information for snake bite victim management , snake identification and all aspect of snake bite.
  • Conduct research trials and observational studies which will,
    • Develop new treatment routines for snake bite.
    • Develop strategies to reduce snake bite mortality and morbidity in Sri Lanka.
    • Investigate the nature and features of snake bite.
    • Provide the public and doctors with last medical advice.


  • Promote research on venom of indigenous species of snakes  and snake bite.
  • Carry out venom studies and become a national reference centre for venom.
  • Carry out clinical research on antivenom at the request of the government and other organizations or for its’ own research projects on manufactured products.
  • Set up an expanded national facility for venom extraction.
  • Supply venom for   interdepartmental and inter university research projects.
  • Production of indigenous antivenom for all  medically important species of snakes in future.
  • Conduct workshops and seminars for medical students , postgraduate trainees & health care workers on snake identification and antivenom.


  • Presentation at the SLMA Annual Academic Sessions on cobra venom analysis including  composition, functional biochemistry, protein analysis, enzymes activities and toxicity studies.
  • Clinical trial on safety and dosage of Antivenom.
  • Workshop on antivenom conducted in December 2003.
  • Workshop on identification of snakes conducted   in commemoration of Toxinology Day,   August 2006

The department has established a Tropical Medicine Research Unit in  collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit.

Its mandate is to foster and promote high quality research into tropical diseases, through collaborations with centres of excellence. The unit has a collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit, and also conducts collaborative research with the Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.  Professor Senaka Rajapakse is the Project Lead, and Dr Chaturaka Rodrigo is the coordinator.  Professor Rohan Jayasekera, Dean Faculty of Medicine, is the Patron of the unit.  The unit has also several collaborators from the Faculty, including Dr Shiroma Handunetti (IBMBB), Professor Sunil Premawansa (Dept of Zoology), Prof Deepika Fernando (Dept of Parasitology), and Dr Rashan Haniffa from the Mahidol-Oxford Research Unit.

The unit coordinates several research projects, with particular focus on diagnostics and prognostic markers of leptospirosis, predictive scoring for dengue, and field based research in malaria.

Other research programmes include those on neuroimmunology, osteoarthritis (in collaboration with the Univeristy of Sydney), and Dengue (with the Research & Development Centre for Mathematical Modeling, Department of Mathematics, University of Colombo). We are also collaborating with the Ministry of Health and helped establish the National Intensive Care Surveillance Project (NICS).