Flashback 2019 DoCM.

Another eventful year has passed by and we would like to summarize the events, achievements and work of DoCM in the year 2019.

Academic staff

DoCM had several important milestones in 2019. Three new members joined the department, including the first Postdoctoral Fellow, not only in the department, but also in the FMAS. One senior lecturer returned from Post MD overseas training at University of Cambridge, strengthening the staff capacity. The human resource improvement was contributed to most of the achievements in 2019. Two junior academic have completed their masters level qualifications. Two department members were honored with Visiting Research Scientist positions at Yale University at the end of this year.

Undergraduate teaching and training

Of the undergraduate teaching and training activities, the Second Undergraduate Research Symposium of the FMAS (2nd URSFMAS) organised at the completion of the ‘Research in Medicine’ module was one of the most important milestones. The quality of research output and the presentations were well appreciated by external reviewers and academic staff. Further, a number of research groups had the opportunity to present in both national and international conferences. Three fourth year medical students participated in a student exchange programme and spent two weeks in Copenhagen with global health students.

Postgraduate teaching and training

The PG training programme had the highest intake this year with one PhD candidate and seven MPhil candidates registering under the department supervision. Of them, two are full-time students and seven, part-time FMAS permanent staff members. The department PG programme focus was mainly on the capacity building and human resource development within the faculty.

Elective programmes International students and workshops

A group of global health students from Israel spent eight weeks global health elective programme in the department as a part of ongoing process. An international workshop on Leptospirosis isolation and diagnosis was held with participation of Sri Lankan and International participants.

Research output

The research output has significantly improved with 20 journal articles in PubMed indexed journals with department affiliations. These publications covered a wide range of important public health topics, including maternal and child health, communicable diseases, geriatric care and public mental health. However, publications in high impact journals need to be in focus for the coming years.

Ongoing research projects

The highlight of the year is the launch of the ‘Rajarata Pregnancy Cohort’ (RAPCO) through GEEPMD project. This research project enabled six postgraduate degrees and to establish the largest pregnancy cohort in Sri Lanka. In addition, the ‘Vender Intervention’ project to reduce suicides in North Central Province was also launched this year, which is a collaborative project between several local and international partners. Leptospirosis research project (ICIDR Grant) received additional funding for capacity building and feild work. Another major grant was confirmed to investigate Leishmaniasis social issues, in collaboration with the Keele University, UK.

Awards and recognitions

One staff member received the prestigious presidential award for scientific publications and four staff members in the department received the national research council merit award for scientific publications during this year. In addition, young investigator travel grant (2019 ILS meeting), best research presentations at SLMA (1st place and 3rd place is different categories)FMAS and ACS meetings, and commended paper awards were received by academic members and or students of the department during this year.

Next year

Year 2020 will be one of the most challenging year for the department with four major projects going on with more than 40 external project members. A top priority would be transforming the cutting edge research work to policies to contribute to better health status of Sri Lankans. AT the same time, scientific communication in high impact journals would be a challenge specially with limitations of APC. Expansion of research agenda, PG training and the curriculum will add an additional burden of work. However, the department will continue to focus on achieving and maintaining international standards while facilitating others to do so.

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