University of Kentucky and Sri Lanka Embassy in US identify areas of cooperation for scientific rese

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 00:34 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Embassy of Sri Lanka continuing its efforts to foster mutually beneficial relations with a broad segment of US institutions, had extensive discussions with the University of Kentucky (UK) to initiate formal academic partnerships between Sri Lankan and US scientists. Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya on July 12 visited the University of Kentucky in Lexington to facilitate academic affiliation among the University of Kentucky, the University of Peradeniya, and the National Cancer Institute of Sri Lanka. President Eli Capilouto warmly welcomed Ambassador Wickramasuriya and Priyanga Wickramasuriya at a special ceremony. Established in 1865, the University of Kentucky has been a national leader in academic and scientific research in the USA. During the visit to the University of Kentucky, Ambassador Wickramasuriya and University officials had in depth discussions to explore further collaboration on the proposed joint cancer research project that would be undertaken in Sri Lanka. A memorandum of understanding was also discussed on moving the project forward expeditiously for mutual benefit. On the occasion, Ambassador Wickramasuriya pledged his fullest support to this important project and thanked the university officials for their continued engagement in bringing the project to fruition. “I commend the University of Kentucky for its thoughtfulness and timely efforts in sealing academic partnerships with Sri Lankan institutions,” the Ambassador opined. “Joint cancer research and other collaborative efforts under this program will not only build educational excellence and training capabilities in Sri Lanka , but these projects also bring enormous benefit by alleviating the suffering of affected people and taking appropriate preventive measures,” he added. University President Eli Capilouto noted that the proposed innovative partnership with concerned Sri Lankan institutions would undoubtedly offer unique opportunities for the UK faculty members and students to work on new research findings with their counterparts. He added that collaboration between the UK and the National Cancer Institute of Sri Lanka could yield new breakthroughs in science that would impact on the quality of treatment at home and abroad. The proposed project would primarily focus its study on prevalence of oral and cervical cancers in Sri Lanka. Both the US and Sri Lankan scientists are to analyse data related to oral cum cervical cancers with the aim of building Sri Lanka’s capacity to fight them. Oral cancers are known to be the number one killer cancer among Sri Lankans. The findings of the study are expected to save lives in both in the US and Sri Lanka by improved diagnostic, vaccination and treatment measures. The study in Sri Lanka will be undertaken in collaboration with W.M. Tilakaratne, Professor of Oral Pathology, Faculty of Dental Sciences, University of Peradeniya, and Dr. Kanishka Karunaratne, Director and Consultant Gynaecological Oncological Surgeon at the National Cancer Institute in Maharagama, Sri Lanka Dr. Mark Evers, Cancer Control Program Associate Director Thomas Tucker, James Graham Brown, Endowed Chair and professor of toxicology Daret St. Clair, and Associate Director for Translational Research and Alfred Cohen Chair in Oncology Research Vivek Rangnekar will be UK’s key collaborators on this project. Dr. Frederick de Beer, Dean of the UK College of Medicine, Udeni B.R. Balasuriya, Professor of Virology at the Gluck Equine Research Center in UK’s Department of Veterinary Science, Dr. Marcus E. Randall, professor and Markey Foundation Endowed Chair in Radiation Medicine in the UK College of Medicine were associated with Ambassador Wickramasuriya and with University President Eli Capilouto at the discussion. At a dinner reception hosted by Sri Lankan American Scientist Professor Udeni B.R. Balasuriya at his residence, Ambassador Wickramasuriya met several members of the Sri Lankan American community in Kentucky. Former US Representative for Kentucky 06th Congressional District and member of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, Congressman Ben Chandler was also associated with the large and representative gathering and shared fond memories of his congressional delegation visit to Sri Lanka last year. Ambassador Wickramasuriya briefed Sri Lankan Americans present on the post conflict developments in Sri Lanka and requested their support to spread the true story of Sri Lanka in the United States. Many members of Sri Lankan American community with a multi ethnic orientation who were in attendance expressed their deep appreciation to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his visionary leadership in bringing lasting peace to Sri Lanka and embarking on several monumental development projects which have brought rich dividends to all communities. They pledged their utmost support for ongoing reconciliation and reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka.