The Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists – A brief history


Part 1

The parent organization of the College was the Ceylon Association of Microbiologists which was founded in 1969. The founder members were Dr. T.J.P. Ratnayake, Dr. Emil Wijewantha, Dr. D.L.J. Kahawita. Dr. Charles St. John, Dr. N.N. de Silva, Dr. S.N. Arsecularatne, Dr. P.D.P. Gunathilake, Dr. A. Sathasivam, Dr. L.B.T Jayasundara, Dr. V. Sivalingam, Dr. I. Balasooriya,  Dr. E.E. Jeyraj, Dr. P.M. Jayathissa, Dr. (Ms) N.K. Kappagoda and Dr. (Ms) H.S. Vitharnam.

In 1974 the name of the Association was changed to The Sri Lanka Association of Microbiologists.

At the Annual General Meeting held in July 1979, a unanimous decision was taken that the Association should evolve into the Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists. A new constitution was drafted.

In 1980 the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) of the University of Colombo introduced Microbiology as a discipline for the training of specialists. Boards of study in each discipline were to have representation from the relevant University Departments and Colleges.

From 1980 members of the College have served on the Board of Study of the PGIM and have been involved in post graduate training. Especially in recent years, College activities have focused on programmes suitable for PGIM trainees in Medical Microbiology.

It was planned to have Annual Sessions as far back as 1971. This plan materialized twenty years later in 1991 when Dr. U.T. Vitharana was the President of the College.


The objectives of the College as embodied in its constitution are:

  1. To initiate instruction in and be responsible for the study of microbiology.
  2. To organise courses, seminars etc. on microbiology relevant to the requirements of different groups of professionals.
  3. To organise lectures, seminars , demonstrations, etc. in order to disseminate knowledge in microbiology among the members and other groups.
  4. To popularize the importance of microbiology in Sri Lanka in relation to the development needs and requirements of the country.
  5. To advise the public and private sector on microbiological problems which may arise in the country.
  6. To initiate action regarding microbiological problems affecting the general public and advise the relevant authorities to such matters.
  7. To represent the college at  international conferences, meetings and seminars in connection with microbiology.
  8. To publish original works in microbiology.
  9. To discuss matters of scientific and professional interest pertaining to microbiology.
  10. To promote research and actively assist in such work.
  11. To take steps as are required for the attainment of the above objectives.

The names of Presidents from 1969 to 2004 are listed below.

1969 -    Dr. D.L.J.Kahawita

1970 -    1973 Dr. V.Sivalingam

1974 -    1976 Dr. D.L.J. Kahawita

1977 -    Dr. T.J.P Ratnayake

1978 -    Dr. C. de S. Kulasiri

1979 -    Dr. M.M Ismail

1980 -    Dr. P. D. P. Gunathilake

1981 -    Dr. A. Sathasivam

1982 -    1984 Dr. T. J. P Ratnayake

1985 -    Dr. A. Sathasivam

1986 -    Prof. C.I. de Fonseka

1987 -    Prof. M. M. Ismail

1988 -    Dr. Lalith Mendis

1989 -    Dr. Nihal Perera

1990 -    Dr. Maya Attapattu

1991 -    Dr. U. T. Vitharana

1992 -    Prof. Emil Wijewantha

1993 -   Dr. A. Sathasivam

1994 -   Dr. R. S. B. Wickremesinghe

1995 -   Dr. Maya Attapattu

1996 -    Prof. Lalitha Mendis

1997/8 -    Dr Joyce Gunawardene

1998/9 – Dr Nalini Withana

1999/2000 – Professor M. Wijesundera

2000/1 – Dr V. Thevanesam

2001/2 -  Prof J. Perera

2002/3 – Dr Nelun de Silva

2003/4 – Dr Sujatha Manawatte

(Adapted from an article published in the abstract book of  the Sixth Academic Sessions which was compiled from the minutes of Annual General Meetings by Professor Lalitha Mendis, Dr. Kumudu Karunaratne and Dr. Ranjith Perera)

Part 2

The Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists was started in 1969 with 15 members. At the beginning, it was named as The Ceylon Association of Microbiologists and later in 1974 its’ name was changed as The Sri Lanka Association of Microbiologists. In 1979 it was re-changed as the Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists (SLCM) with a new constitution. Since the inception of specialty training at the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) in 1980, members of SLCM served as the members of Board of Study in Microbiology. In 1991, SLCM had its first Academic Sessions which is still continuing annually. Though it is seen as the main event, its members are involved in many other activities which help to improve the field of microbiology and its’ sub specialties in the country.

History of the college up to 2004 was written by Professor Lalitha Mendis, Dr. Kumudu Karunaratne and Dr. Ranjith Perera and published in the Bulletin of Sixth Annual Scientific Sessions.

The following are some of the major historical events & achievements of SLCM from 2004 to 2015.

  • In 2004 SLCM started Siri Wickremesinghe oration as an annual event after passing away of a much loved member of the college, Dr. R S B Wickremesinghe.
  • SLCM got actively involved with the HSDP Project from the World Bank funds in 2005 / 2006 during Dr. Gaya Colombage’s presidency, and continued until 2009.
  • In 2006 SLCM launched its official website by Dr. Rohan Chinnaiah and this was re-launched with a new face in January 2011 by Prof. Nelun de Silva, editor of the college as with the web master Dr. Varuna Navaratne.
  • From 2008 SLCM started circulating college news-letter and from 2011, this was circulated as an e-newsletter.
  • National Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance (ARSP) project was launched in 2009. This was initially planned as a four year project which analyzed antibiotic resistance pattern among gram negative isolates in blood culture. The steering committee of this project comprised of Dr. Sagarika Samarasinghe, Dr. Philomina Chandrasiri, Dr. Geethika Patabendige, Dr. Shirani Chandrasiri, Dr. Jayanthi Elwitigala and Dr. Pranitha Somaratne. This project was initiated by Prof. Jennifer Perera and was handed over to the college. In 2012 as the second phase of this project, antibiotic resistance surveillance of gram positive pathogens in blood cultures was added and this expansion included all hospitals where a microbiologist served.
  • The college was registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee under the Companies Act. No. 7 of 2007 on 16th March 2010.
  • Vasanthi Thevanesam, Prof. Nelun de Silva, Dr. Philomina Chandrasiri and Dr. Kushlani Jayathilake were appointed to the expert committee on Microbiology by The Sri Lanka Accreditation Board (SLAB) to prepare specific criteria issued for the accreditation of medical / clinical laboratories by SLAB in 2010.
  • As requested by the Board of Study in Microbiology of PGIM, college drafted a document on MD Medical Microbiology and Medical Virology training courses to facilitate registration and overseas training for post MD trainees.
  • Second edition of the Laboratory Manual in Microbiology was launched in November 2011.
  • National Laboratory Based Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance Project (NLBSA) was started in 2012 to analyze the antibiotic susceptibility pattern of significant midstream urine cultures and enter data to WHONET in hospitals where microbiologists serve. Dr. Kumudu Karunaratne and Dr. Kushlani Jayathilake were appointed as the chairperson and the secretary of this committee respectively.
  • Development of Empirical and Prophylactic Use of Antimicrobials National Guideline was started in 2012 as the brain child of Dr. Philomina Chandrasiri. Twenty one guidelines were compiled by the antibiotic guideline subcommittee which was chaired by Dr. Kumudu Karunaratne and published as a book and launched in 2016.
  • First Bio-safety Manual which was launched in 2004 was reviewed and second edition was launched in October 2014.
  • In 2015 the council of SLCM decided to award fellowships according to the criteria which were laid down by a special committee and this will be continued.
  • The College obtained its own office at the SLMA building from 2005 and received assistance of a secretary from 2006. In 2015 SLCM office was relocated at the same venue but more spaciously.

The names of Presidents from 2005 to 2015 are listed below.

2004/05 – Dr. Ranjith Perera

2005/06 – Dr. Gaya Colombage

2006/07 – Prof. N. P.Sunilchandra

2007/08 - Dr. Sagarika Samarasinghe

2008/09 - Dr. Preethi Perera

2009/10 - Dr. Omala Wimalaratne

2010/11 - Dr. Pranitha Somaratne

2011/12 - Dr. Philomena Chandrasiri

2012/13 - Dr. Sunethra Gunasena

2013/14 - Dr. Kumudu Karunaratne

2014/15 - Prof. Nilanthi de Silva

2015/16 – Dr. Kanthi Nanayakkara


Compiled by – Dr. Primali Jayasekera

Dr. Pavithri Bandara

Dr. Surani Udugama