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.
The Diabetes Research Unit of the department was established in 2005 with the objective of carrying out multidisciplinary research in diabetes, metabolic diseases and cardiovascular disease in Sri Lanka, with the aim of developing strategies for primary prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and better clinical care. The unit is a joint collaborative effort between the Department and the Oxford Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism UK. Several projects have been undertaken by the DRU during this short period of time, producing many important papers. The unit coordinated the Sri Lanka Young Diabetes Study (SLYDS), which studied the aetiology and epidemiology of young adult onset diabetes in Sri Lanka. The DRU works in close collaboration with the Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka, Endocrinology and Diabetes units of the National Hospital of Srilanka and Colombo South Teaching Hospital, 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.
The department has established a Tropical Medicine Research Unit in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit. This unit conducts research into tropical diseases, with a key focus on leptospirosis and malaria. There is a series of research projects on leptospirosis in collaboration with the Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of Colombo.
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).