The World Class University Project – University of Sri Jayewardenepura (WCUP-USJ) engendered the New Year on an inspiring note. A delegation from the University of Houston (UoH), Texas, USA arrived in Sri Lanka on the 6th of January 2020, for a Joint Symposium – “Amalgamating Medicine with Engineering towards Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Stepping into the Future”. This joint symposium was a consequence of the visit of academics of USJ to UoH Texas On September 2019, laying the stepping stone in establishing a Department of Biomedical Engineering at USJ, which was a key objective of the symposium. Professor Metin Akay and Prof. Chandra Mohan; the delegates from the UoH, Texas joined the Academics at USJ in the hopes to bring to reality this endeavor.
From Left to right – Prof. Chandra Mohan -University of Houston, Prof. Ranil De Silva-Director WCUP, Honourable Dr. Bandula Gunewardene-Minister of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Metin Akay-University of Houston, Honourable Susil Premajayantha-State Minister of International Cooperation, Professor Sampath Amaratunge-Chairman University Grants Commission, former Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Akila Subasinghe-former Dean Faculty of Engineering USJ, Prof.M.Padmalal-Dean Faculty of Graduate Studies
Prof. Metin Akay, the founding Chair of the new Biomedical Engineering Department and the John S. Dunn Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UoH, Texas USA; is an Electrical Engineer by profession and inventor with patents in medical imaging and image enhancement. Prof. Akay is a recipient of the third Millennium Medal and is a fellow of IEEE, the Institute of Physics (IOP), the American Institute of Medical Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Prof. Chandra Mohan; Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen endowed Professor of Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Professor has held the MGee Chair in Arthritis Research and the Walter and Helen Bader Professorship in Autoimmunity. Prof. Chandra Mohan is expertise in comprehensive profiling using multiple “omics” platforms in our laboratory has yielded novel insights on a wide spectrum of diseases, including autoimmune diseases and cancers.
The US delegates delivered the following keynote speeches which were an eye opening for Sri Lankan academics, Indstrialists and students.
- Healthcare Innovations and Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century by Prof. Akay
- From Lab Scans to Home Diagnostics by Prof. Mohan
Pictures of Joint Symposium – “Amalgamating Medicine with Engineering towards Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Stepping into the Future”.
Dr. Akila Subasinghe former Dean, Faculty of Engineering, USJ, Prof. Surangi Yasawardene, Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, pledged to aid in the development of Biomedical Engineering amalgatingbiology, healthcare and health informatics, mechanics, and engineering, can combine diverse skills to create solutions using BME. The establishment of the emerging field of Bio-Medical Engineering is USJ is only possible due to the vision of former Vice-Chancellor, Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunge and Dr. Bandula Wijay; Ambassador, Science Technology and Innovation, Sri Lanka, which they were commended for during Professor Ranil de Silva’s speech.
Dr. Lasith Gunewardene, the General Secretary of Innovation, Invention and Venture Creation Council (IIVCC), USJ delivered an insightful presentation on the Success Stories of the IIVCC and the importance of Biomedical Engineering in Entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka.
Commencing after the speeches was an enlightening interactive session which included the exchange of ideas from the Industry and Academia alike, and led to potential collaborations. The Symposium was concluded by the Acting Vice-Chancellor at USJ, Senior Professor Sudantha Liyanage who graced the gathering with his thoughts on the importance of industry-academic collaborations
Professor Akay and Professor Mohan had fruitful discussions with Honourable Dr. Bandula Gunewardene; Minister of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation and Honourable Susil Premajayantha; State Minister of International Cooperation and. This meeting paved the way for a fruitful discussion on a prospective joint Double Doctoral opportunities with UoH, which Director, WCUP proposed at UoH during USJ visit, Moreover, offered the delegates offered assistance to the Honourable Ministers on furthering the development of on Innovation and Invention in BME for Sri Lanka and its implications in expanding the Sri Lankan Economy.
Professor Akay visited the plantations with the kind courtesy of the Head of Business Development & Plantations, Aitken Spence PLC, where Professor Akay enlighted the use of Sri Lankan Natural Products on brain tumors through the chip invented by him as a Collaborative project which would lead to enhancing the health benefits of our own Natural Products and marketability of nutraceuticals and drug development for brain cancers.