Department of Parasitology – History

Parasitology was first taught to medical undergraduates at the Bacteriology Institute [later called Medical Research Institute MRI].This was due to lack of floor space , laboratory facilities and staff during that early period. This situation prevailed until 1956, when the Departments of Parasitology and Bacteriology were established as separate units in this faculty. Dr. Sivalingam who was the former head of the Bacteriology Institute was appointed as the Head of the Parasitology department. He held this position until he moved over to the Faculty of Medicine, Peradeniya.

Professor V. Sivalingam (M.R.C.P (Edin), D.T.M & H (Eng),L.R.C.P & S (Edin), L.R.F.P & S (Glas),L.M.S (Cey).) was the first Chair Professor & Head of the Department from 1956 to1963. At the same time he was the President of the Ceylon Medical Association from 1959 to 1960. Dr. Sivalingam, was largely responsible for setting up of laboratories and facilities on the 2nd floor of the Pathology block, of the Faculty where the Department of Parasitology is situated at present. The original medical students’ common room was converted into student laboratories for both Parasitology and Bacteriology.



Parasitology was taught in the 4th year of the medical course until 1964 when a change in curriculum necessitated the teaching to be carried out in the 3rd year of the medical course.

In 1995 the M.B.B.S. curriculum was changed after six years of intensive planning. The main objectives of this new curriculum were to reduce content and quantum of teaching by didactic lectures and instead to make learning more ‘student centered’.

Currently, Parasitology is taught during the Foundation Module 2 and Infectious and Parasitic Diseases Module. Teaching methods such as problem based learning, small group discussions, seminars, tutorials, debates, inter disciplinary activities, fixed learning modules, field attachments and family attachments have been introduced. The student is encouraged by these methods to be a self-learner. System based learning with emphasis on behavioral sciences and preventive medicine are other important features of the new curriculum.

Heads of the Department

Professor Nilakshi Samaranayake
MBBS, PG Dip(Med. Microbiology),PhD(Cmb)
Head of Department: 2022 – present

Professor Yamuna Siriwardana
MBBS, MPhil(Cmb), MD(Med. Parasit.)
Head of Department: 2019 – 2022

Professor Sharmini Gunawardena
MBBS, MPhil(Cmb), MD(Med Parasit.)
Head of Department: 2018 – 2019

Professor Deepika Fernando
MBBS, PhD(SL), Dip(Micro), MD(Med Parasit)
Head of Department: 2017-2018

Professor Nadira Karunaweera
Chair Professor & Head of Department: 2008-2017

Professor S.D. Fernando
Head of Department: 2005-2008

Dr. Nadira Karunaweera
Head of Department: 2000-2004 S. Naotunna
Head of Department: 1999-2000

Professor Kamini Mendis
Head of Department: 1994-1999

Professor M. M. Ismail
MBBS(Cey), DTM&H(Cey), MD(Col), PhD(McGill), FNASSL
Chair Professor & Head of Department: 1983-1994
Dean & Professor: 1994-1996

Dr. S. Rajakulendran
Head of Department: 1979-1983

Dr. T. Ponnadurai
MBBS(Cey), MSc(Lond) PhD(Lond)
Chair Professor & Head of Department: 1975-1978

Professor A.S. Dissanaike
B.Sc(Sp. Zoology,Cey.), MBBS(Cey), PhD(Lond), DSc(Lond), FRCPath(UK)
Chair Professor & Head of Department: 1964-1972
Dean & Professor: 1967-1970