Nadira Karunaweera

I am the Chair and Senior Professor of Parasitology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and an honorary Visiting Scientist at the School of Public Health, Harvard University, USA. I am a medical parasitologist and has extensive teaching and research experience in tropical diseases, with special emphases on vector-borne infections. I am an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. I am a Board member of the Governance Council, Genomic Epidemiology of Malaria Project (MalariaGEN), University of Oxford, UK and has served as a Consultant/advisor to the Strategic Research Steering Committee on Pathogenesis and Functional Genomics, World Health Organization, Geneva. 

I have been a recipient of several competitive research grant awards. Internationally recognized awards include Tropical Medicine Centre Award U01AI136033 (2017-2022); R01AI099602 (2012-2017); R03 TW007966 (2007-2012) NIAID, NIH, USA; Global Challenge Award for malaria (2006-2009) and Research Development Award, Wellcome Trust, UK (1997-2000). The Fellowship awards I received include Senior Research Scholar Award, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, U.S.A. (2005-2006); Fulbright Advanced Research and Lecturing Award, U.S.A. (2005); Fellowship Award, Commission of the European Communities, Belgium (1994) and Fellowship award, T.D.R., World Health Organization (1993). Local awards include the Annual Presidential Awards for excellence in research (since 2000), National Apex Award for Professional Excellence and Zonta Woman of the Year Award (2009). She spearheaded the establishment of the Sri Lanka National Chapter of Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and is the Founder President of that organization (since 2018).  

My malaria research encompasses wide ranging fields including pathogenesis, epidemiology, immunity and genetic diversity and it has been instrumental in generating novel information, which has aided the process of policy making related to malaria control and elimination. In Sri Lanka, I am responsible for pioneering work in the field of leishmaniasis with setting up of the first leishmaniasis diagnostic, training and research laboratory in the country. I have provided academic and research supervision and guidance to a large number of undergraduate and post-graduate students that include MPhil and PhD-level scientists and has been in the University system for over 30 years (University of Colombo, Sri Lanka; University of Edinburgh, UK; Harvard University, USA) with extensive academic, research and administrative experiences.  

As an expert in tropical diseases I continue to serve on many national and international scientific review boards, consultative committees and editorial boards sharing her expertise in an honorary capacity. I led the team that established the first-ever ‘Research Promotion and Facilitation Centre’ at the home institution in 2013 that continues to provide training and promotes capacity building of young local scientists. I have published widely with a Google Scholar h-index of 28; i-10 index of 58 and have authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles.