Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo
The Malaria Research Unit (MRU) is a part of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Colombo and has a long-standing record of research on malaria at an internationally competitive level. At present, the MRU has two field research stations and a dedicated laboratory at the district hospital in Anuradhapura for clinical studies. It functions as a centre for postgraduate research training and malaria research, including various programmes on immunology and molecular biology.
The MalariaGEN study was carried out in Kataragama, which is a malaria endemic area 288 km from Colombo. With both semi-urban areas and rural villages, the region is endemic for both P. falciparum and P. vivax. In Kataragama, there is a small laboratory and a research centre for basic examination of malaria patients, such as preparation and microscopic examination of blood smears for malaria.
- Nadira Karunaweera (MalariaGEN Investigator)
- Deepika Fernando (MalariaGEN Investigator)
- Rajika Dewasurendra (MalariaGEN Data Fellow)
How the team is contributing to MalariaGEN
The team at the University of Colombo have contributed DNA and serum samples to Consortial Project 2. The study was based on the data collected for a previous study in 1992-1993 from eight villages in the Moneragala District, a malaria endemic area near Kataragama.
The study population comprised 1957 individuals. The biggest challenge was tracing the exact people who were involved in the original study. A support team had to use motorcycles to get through narrow jungle paths to reach people's houses. When travelling after dark they even risked coming across wild elephants. While most people were still living in the same villages, others had passed away or moved and couldn't be traced. Once taken, samples had to be transported on motorbikes with ice packs for the 6 hour ride back to the main laboratory in Colombo. A total of 1133 samples were collected and the DNA and sera have now been transferred to the UK.
Read Rajika Dewasurendra's account of recruiting and processing samples in Kataragama, a rural area of in the southeast of Sri Lanka. More >>