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Mr. Saliya Jayathilaka is an Assistant Director at the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade. He is an officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, and worked in public service both at the Divisional and Ministerial levels. Saliya is an awardee of the Australia Awards Scholarships under which he completed Master of Public Policy in International Policy at the Australian National University. He has degrees in Master of Development Practice and Agriculture Technology and Management from the University of Peradeniya. Saliya completed Professional Qualification in Human Resource Management at the Institute of Personnel Management Sri Lanka (IPM) and is an Associate Member (AMIPM) of the same institute.

Nishadi is a sustainability and risk management professional with over 7 years of experience working with organisations such as UNDP and John Keells Holdings – the largest conglomerate in Sri Lanka. She is currently at MAS Holdings in Sri Lanka focusing on Women’s Advocacy & Corporate Social Responsibility. She is also a Local Pathways Fellow (2017), an initiative of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth and a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. Nishadi received a prestigious Australia Awards Development Scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in Sustainability at the University of Sydney. She is also an active member of the Sri Lanka Association of Australia Awards Alumni. Passionate about Education for Sustainability (EfS), she volunteers her time to conduct EfS related programs at local schools and universities.

Ms. Anusha Nishanthi is the Head of Compliance of NDB Capital Holdings Limited (NCAP) where she is responsible for overall group compliance. She is an Attorney-at-Law and has over 10 years of combined experience in commercial law and compliance in the financial services industry.  Ms. Nishanthi has a LL.B

Second Class Honours (Upper) Degree from the University of Colombo. She is an awardee of the Australian Leadership Award under which she completed her LL.M in Commercial law at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Ms. Nishanthi completed her Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship in Finance and Banking at Boston University, USA in 2015. She has completed professional affiliations with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission and State Street Global Advisors, USA. Ms.Nishanthi is also a Trustee to the NDB Capital Scholarship Trust and the founding member/Chairperson of WeCare Lanka – A NGO for social services.

Mangala Gunaratna is a member of Sri Lanka Planning Service. She is currently working as the Director of Rural Road Reawakening Program of the Ministry of Highways. Mangala obtained her Bachelor’s Degree of Mass Communication (Hons.) from the University of Kelaniya Sri Lanka in 1996 entered into the Sri Lanka Planning Service. She has served as Assistant Director and Deputy Director at various Government Ministries/Institutions. She also completed Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies and Public Policy from the Open University of Sri Lanka. In 2010, she obtained her Masters Degree of Public Administration (Policy) from the University of Flinders, Australia in 2010 under the Australian Development Scholarships Program.

Suhajinee Gunawardana, a Civil Engineer is currently working as the Irrigation Engineer in the Irrigation Department. Suhajinee obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka in year 2003. Thereafter she worked in private and semi-government organisations as a Structural Engineer where she has undertaken structural design of buildings. In 2008 she joined the Irrigation Department and obtained the status of Professional Qualification “Chartered Engineer” from the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka. She obtained the Masters of Structural Engineering from University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia in 2014 under Australian Development Scholarship and the Australian Leadership Award. She is also a member of Society of Structural Engineers-Sri Lanka. Currently she is working in the Hydrology Division of the Irrigation Department which is the division responsible for collecting, processing and publishing stream flow data in Sri Lanka to be used for design and planning of water resources projects. Flood forecasting is another duty of her to ensure public safety during floods.

Pradeepa Jayaratne is a Consultant and an Academic in Transport and Logistics/Supply Chain management. She has been served as Senior Lecturer/Senior Consultant at the Department of Transport and Logistics Management, University of Moratuwa. She also served as a Visiting Academic at NSBM, Ocean University of Sri Lanka and CINEC Maritime Campus. Pradeepa completed her Master of Science in Logistics and graduated with a Distinction award from the University of Wollongong (UoW), Australia in 2007. She completed her PhD in Supply Chain Management/Logistics in 2015 from the same university. She has also served as a consultant to many organizations such as World Bank, Ministry of Transport, and Road Passenger Transport Authority. She also served as a Lecturer at Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong, Australia. Currently she serves as a Consultant for World Bank, UN-Habitat, and Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development.

Nazeema Ahamed, currently function as the Director (Planning) of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research. She obtained her basic degree in Management from the University Colombo. She also completed her Master Degree in Environmental Science from the same University. Her Master degree on Public Policies is from the University of New South Wales.  Ensuring a multi-disciplinary professionalism, she completed a Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations at BCIS. Her field of expertise include policy making and strategic Planning, Results based monitoring & evaluation and change management. Change that she wants to drive is; inspire people to work towards result with special focus on public service.

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.