1) Tell us something about yourself?
I am Kalana Maduwage, university academic, medical researcher and a naturalist in Sri Lanka. As a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka I am involving in lecturing for undergraduate and postgraduate medical students. In-addition I am conducting examinations and involving curriculum development of my university. I always welcome my students and academics to discuss novel concepts of science and medical education including inventions and innovations.
My research is focusing on various aspect of snake envenoming and effects of antivenom treatments. Currently I am exploring how Sri Lankan snake venom acts on human body and the effects of snake antivenoms as a treatment. Snake envenoming is a major medical and public health issue in Sri Lanka. I believe my current research would help to improve the treatment of snakebite victims of Sri Lanka. As a naturalist, I am in the process of discovering new species is snakes and freshwater fish species from Sri Lanka.
As a nature lover, I spend my extra time on bird watching and traveling with great interest on animal behavior. The family composed of my lovely wife, Amali, 6 years old daughter Kalani and 2 years old little son Inuk. My happiest time is the time I spend with my family in the weekend.
2) What are the projects you are currently working on?
Snake envenoming is a major medical and public health issue in tropical agricultural countries including Sri Lanka. Annually 80,000 people bitten by snakes and approximately 450 people die in our island. Currently, I am working to understand the effects of various snake venom on human body and the effectiveness of antivenom treatments. Diagnosis of snake envenoming is a challenge. No single test available to diagnose snake envenoming before venom starts its toxic effects. Currently, I am working to develop a novel method of diagnosis of envenoming which could use in clinical practice. Diagnosis of envenoming is a critical issue of administration of antivenom to the patients. Lack of envenoming confirmation test leads to unnecessary antivenom administration and delaying antivenom administration for the necessary patients. I believe the results of my ongoing research will develop an accurate, rapid bedside envenoming diagnosis methods.
Having many snakebite victims in our hospitals facilitates my research. Lack of required laboratory facilities is the main drawback of my current research. As young investigators, it is not an easy task to attack the funding for my research. Currently, I am in the process of developing a snake venom and antivenom laboratory in my university. As my research is at the front line in the field of envenoming, having a well-equipped laboratory is very important for the success of my research.
3) Tell us about your experience in Australia?
I conducted my Ph.D. studies at University of Newcastle, NSW under the school of medical and public health. My Ph.D studies were focused on exploring various effects of snake venom on human body and different treatment options. I completed my Ph.D in 2016 with 16 research publications in my thesis. It was very exciting to have two publications in Nature publishing group. Discovery of novel technique of diagnosis of envenoming is a landmark achievement in my professional life, which was appreciated by three international awards; John Morris Scientific Award, Australian Society of Medical Research Award and Informal Health Care Award, USA. Further, this discovery was circulated through many Australian media including ABC and I am happy about proud about the studies that I have done during the Ph.D. With the great appreciation to Australian Leadership Scholarship (AusAid), my leadership skills improved as a professional in the field of the study. I was involved in medical undergraduate teaching at the University of Newcastle and it was an unforgotten experience to me. I had a great opportunity to attend numerous scientific conferences and it built up my professional network with other scientist in the field.
Birth of my son, Inuk is the unforgettable moment in our life in Australia. I delighted about welcoming a new member of our family during our nice time in Australia. During our stay in Australia, we were very fortunate to have lovely neighborhoods. It was very close to the environment that we experiences in our home country. We felt that we were not alone in Australia. Finally, they were / are the closest friends for our hearts. My daughter enjoyed the life in pre-school with her friends and I highly value and multicultural and respectable social environment that we enjoyed in Australia.
4) What are your aspiration for the future / any goals you want to achieve in the future at a profession level?
People live in many rural areas of the world suffer by snake envenoming. Sri Lanka is only an example to understand the burden of this disease. Lack of scientific research is the fundamental vacuum in the battle of this problem. Understanding of effects of snake venom is critical for advancement of this field of study. Results of my past studies greatly impacted on the improvement of treatment for snake envenoming in Sri Lanka and globally. My main goal is reduce the number of disability and mortality induced by snake envenoming in Sri Lanka and globally. Development of new method of envenoming diagnosis is main goal. I believe this this would drop all complications induced by snake antivenom and reduce the suffering following snakebite.
The main hurdle of this excise is lack of infrastructure and research facilities in my university. Currently I am collaborative with few researchers in our countries to develop an equipped laboratory in Sri Lanka to continue my research in the field of snake envenoming.