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Biosafety Expert
Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2020-11-30 14:48 UTC (sec@env.gov.lk)
Date of publication
2020-11-30 15:39 UTC (anastasia.beliaeva@cbd.int)

General information
Nominating Government
  • Sri Lanka
Profile of the Expert
Prof. Ranil Dassanayake currently attached to the University of Colombo, serving as Senior Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology having twenty four year of experiences in Undergraduate and Postgraduate teaching, training and research. He obtained his basic degree in Chemistry with honours from the University of Peradeniya in 1992.  Following his graduation, he joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo in 1995 as a lecturer and then proceeded to the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong to read for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He obtained the Doctorate in Molecular Biology in 2001 and following his postgraduate degree, He worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Queen Marry Hospital of the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong and also Commonwealth Academic Fellow at the Liverpool school of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK.  He was a member of National Council of Biotechnology of Sri Lanka and the recipient of several International and National research grants and awards including the Presidential awards for eight times for research excellence and the best Ph.D. thesis and supervisor award in 2015 by the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka.  His research interests are in the field of molecular biology of cancers, dengue, parasitic, infectious diseases etc and he is the first scientist to develop Genetically modified Transgenic animals in Sri Lanka,  transgenic mosquito to block dengue transmission by mosquitoes to control dengue disease. To my credit, he has authored and published more than hundred fifty research publications in cited international journals and local journals and also written many reviews, book chapters and books related to molecular biology. One of his key text books titled "Genomics and Proteomics Techniques: In Post Geonomics Era was published recently by international publishers in India and the UK, and currently available in both the Indian and European Markets. His prime goal in life is to develop molecular diagnostics and the Biotech Industry in Sri Lanka to harness economic benefits for the sustainable development of the country. Toward this end, he has laid the stepping stone by pioneering to form a first registered Biotech company, CeyGen Biotech (Pvt) Ltd in Sri Lanka that deals with the development of molecular diagnostic related products and also setting up a state of the art molecular diagnostic laboratory at the Durdans Hospital, Colombo, which is run using the biotech products he developed in his Biotechnology Company.
Personal Information
Prof. Ranil Dassanayake
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, university of Colombo
Sri Lanka
Phone:+ 94 (0)11 250 3367,+94 (0)77 342 2924
Fax:+ 94 (0)11 250 3367
  • Male
  • Sri Lankan
Date of birth
Place of birth
Sri Lanka
Current employment
Employer / Organization
University of Colombo
Type of organization
  • Academic or research institute
Department / Division / Unit
Department of Chemistry
Start date
Main responsibilities
Teaching and Research for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students
Formal education
First Degree or other academic distinction and subject
Example: B.Sc. in Microbiology
B.Sc. Special Degree in Chemistry
Name of academic institution
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Start date
Ending date
Formal education
Second Degree or other academic distinction and the subject
Example: M.Sc. in Microbiology
Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Name of academic institution
University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Start date
Ending date
Other professional qualifications
List of other relevant professional qualifications
Postdoctoral training in Queen Marry Hospital, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Commonwealth Academic Fellow at the Liverpool school of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK
Research training workshop, International research week, University of Granada, Granada, Spain
Areas of Expertise
Main areas of expertise
  • Biotechnology policy
  • Human health
  • Biochemistry
  • Entomology
  • Genetic engineering
  • Genomics
  • Molecular biology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biotechnology
List most important publications related to the expert main field of expertise.
Somarathne MBCL, Gunawardena YINS, Chandrasekharan NV, Ellepola, ANB, Dassanayake RS. siRNA mediated RNA interference of Novel parasitic nematode-specific protein of Setaria digitata in Culex quinquefasciatus showed molting and movement detects and development arrest. Parasites & Vectors. 11:541, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-018-3096-x
Somarathna C, Gunawardene YINS, Chandrasekharan NV, Dassanayake RS. Development of siRNA mediated RNA interference and functional analysis of novel parasitic nematode-specific protein of Setaria digitate. Experimental Parasitology. 186:42-49. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2018.02.001. Epub 2018 Feb 12.
Tennakoon TMPB., Rushdhi M., Ranasinghe ADCU., Dassanayake RS. Values of molecular markers in the differential diagnosis of thyroid abnormalities. J Cancer Res Clin OncolDOI 10.1007/s00432-016-2319-9. (2016).
List of other publications files
Awards and Professional Memberships
Awards received
NSF Technology Award - Award  for Technology excellence-2017
Presidential Research Award
Daphne Attygalle Prize for the best paper in Cancer (128th Anniversary International Medical Congress of Sri Lanka Medical Association (2015)
Language proficiency
"A" = Excellent, "B" = Good, "C" = Fair
Mother Tongue
  • Singhalese
Speaking / Level (A B C)
  • English
Reading / Level (A B C)
  • English
Writing / Level (A B C)
  • English
Prof. L.P. Samaranayake
The Prince Philip Dental Hospital
University of Hong Kong
34, Hospital Road, Hong Kong
Sai Ying Pun
Phone:+ 852-28590480
Fax:+ 852-25476133
Prof. Stephen S. Tobe
Department of Zoology
University of Toronto
25 Harbord Street Toronto, ON M5S 3G5
Additional Information
Additional Information
The following research training at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK  on RNA interference (RNA interference (RNAi) or Post-Transcriptional Gene Silencing is a conserved biological response to double-stranded RNA that mediates resistance to both endogenous parasitic and exogenous pathogenic nucleic acids, and regulates the expression of protein-coding genes. This natural mechanism for sequence-specific gene silencing has already been revolutionized experimental biology and having important practical applications in functional genomics, therapeutic intervention, agriculture and other areas) in 2012 under Commonwealth Fellowship programme, He was able to set up this advanced-technique at the Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Colombo and have used to develop transgenic animal and plants resistance to infections and to study functional role of gene of filarial nematodes characterized by him and his team since then.
He was instrumental in developing the first transgenic animal, transgenic mosquito in Sri Lanka using the technology mentioned above as a strategy to block the transmission of dengue viruses by dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti. In this approach, they designed an effecter DNA molecule  and incorporated it into the mosquito genome through microinjection ( injected volume is nanoliter to picoliter amount) of mosquito eggs (~1mm size) and transgenic mosquitoes was selected using various molecular methods ( at least 60,000 larvae have to be analyzed to identify one or two transgenic larvae) and  back-crossed them to produce G8 generation with  stable transmission of genetic traits. The designed DNA molecule is capable of knocking down of viral RNA when viruses get into mosquito gut through blood-meal thus preventing dengue virus replication and multiplication. Currently, wet lab research is carried out with transgenic mosquitoes infected with dengue virus to study how effective designed molecule to be in knocking down four dengue viral serotype in mosquitoes. Their recent experiments have shown the molecule we designed is effective for blocking the replication of dengue virus serotype II in mosquito.
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is one of the most economically important agricultural crops worldwide including Sri Lanka. The infection by phytoparasitic root knot nematodes (RKNs) of the genus Meloidogyne is the leading biotic constraint in tomato production. To counter this situation, a transgenic tomato plant was developed in their laboratories  using RNAi mechanism mentioned above by introducing  16D10 gene of root-knot nematodes into the tomato to produce anti-sense RNA that specially destroys 16D10 RNA that required for the infection of roots of tomato plants. In this study, the expression of transgene in tomato plants was confirmed using relevant molecular techniques and back-crossed them to produce G2 generation with  stable transmission of genetic traits. Currently, root knot nematodes challenging studies are carried out to study how effective transgenic tomato plant to be in blocking root nematode infection.
Further, RNA interference was also developed in their laboratories at the Department of Chemistry to study functional roles of genes of animal filarial nematode, Setaria digitata, that causes fatal cerebrospinal nematodiasis in goat, sheep and horses, resulting in substantial economic losses in animal husbandry. The RNA interference protocols were developed for both in culture medium (in-vitro ) and inside the vector  mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus (in-vivo) and this is the first ever such development to study functional role of genes that encode by the genome of  S. digitata. Transgenic technology based on RNA interference established in their laboratories has many applications in the areas of medicine, agriculture, veterinary science etc., with very high economic potential.


He was instrumental in establishing the first biotech company (CeyGen) in Sri Lanka in 2009  with a mission to reduce the cost of reagents used in molecular diagnostics and other molecular related research, by developing series of testing platforms based on nucleic acid detection.  Up to now his team have manufactured many products and some of them have been approved and certified for quality by Industrial Technology Institute and the Cosmetics, Drugs and Devices Authority of the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka.  These products have been already used and tested by research and academic institutions, Hospitals etc., in Sri Lanka. The products developed include Nucleic Acid Extraction Kits (Human whole blood/ tissue DNA & RNA extraction kits, Serum viral DNA & RNA extraction kits, Bacterial, fungi, plant DNA extraction kits, kits for DNA extraction from environmental samples, human DNA & RNA extraction kit from paraffin embedded tissues etc), DNA and protein markers, Recombinant Enzymes (Taq DNA polymerase, Pfu DNA polymerase, MMLV reverse tanscriptase, human placental RNAse Inhibitor, Bovine pancreatic Rnase,  T7 RNA polymerase etc.,), Diagnostic kits,  PCR master mixes, Real Time PCR master mixes etc. These products are substitutes for imports used for molecular-based diagnostics and research and developments are supported partly by technology grant. National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka.


He was involved in designing and planning Molecular Diagnostic laboratory and also ordering equipment and chemicals required for diagnostic assays in a Hospital in Sri Lanka. Diagnostic assays developed and validated using their own in-house methods developed by them and offering for general public are Qualitative detection of dengue viral RNA, Mycobacterium tuberculosis  DNA, Hepatitis B viral DNA, Hepatitis C viral RNA, Cytomegalovirus DNA , Chikungunya viral RNA, HIVI/II viral RNA, Human herpes simplex I/II viral DNA, Japanese encephalitis viral RNA, Leishmaniasis DNA, Toxoplasma gondii DNA, Rubella RNA, Epstein barr virus DNA, Varicella zoster DNA, Chlamydia trachomatis DNA, Leptospirosis DNA, Neisseria gonorrheae DNA, Enteroviruses RNA etc and also quantitative assays/ Viral load (Real Time PCR) for Hepatitis B & C, Cytomegalovirus and HIV, Hepatitis B and C genotyping. Screening for mutations in JAK2, Prothrombin, Factor V Leiden, Hemochromatosis, Tetrahydrofolate etc, Philadelphia translocation (chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Minimal residual disease detection in in Chronic Granulocytic Leukemia. K-ras mutation detection in colorectal cancers, HER2 gene amplification in breast cancer, Myc-amplification in neuroblastoma, HER2 gene amplification in breast cancer, Myc-amplification in neuroblastoma,Gene panels for Chronic mylogeneous leukemia, acute mylogeneous leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemiaetc etc.,  Analysis of chemical constituents of Kidney stones by Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and many more diagnostic assays are currently under development.