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Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo

Faculty of Medicine, UoC
කොළඹ විශ්වවිද්‍යාල වෛද්‍ය පිඨය
Established 1870
Type Public
Chancellor Most Rev Dr Oswald Gomis
Vice-Chancellor Prof Kshanika Hirimburegama
Location Colombo, Sri Lanka
Campus Urban
Website Official website

Established in 1870 as the Colombo Medical School, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is the second oldest medical school in South Asia.


In the early 1840s the Colombo Medical College was amalgamated with University College Colombo, to create the University of Ceylon. In its coloured history spanning over 135 years it has produced thousands of doctors who have helped contribute to the relatively impressive health statistics in Sri Lanka. Over 1200 students are currently enrolled in the faculty. And the faculty was recognized as an excellent medical faculty all over the world. It produced many excellent doctors for the world.

In 1839, the Governor of Ceylon J. A. Stewart Mackenzie started sending Ceylonese students to Calcutta for medical studies to the oldest medical school in South Asia - The Bengal Medical College.

In the 1860s the Colonial Surgeon, Dr. James Loos was requested to report on the large depopulation of the Wanni. He recommended that medical facilities should be available throughout the island and to this end a medical school should be opened. The Colombo Medical School was thus opened in 1870 by the then Governor Sir Hercule Robinson. Dr James Loos was its first principal. Dr. E.L.Koch was the second principal in whose memory the Koch Memorial Clock Tower, which still stands, was built in 1881.

The beginnings of the medical school were modest. It was situated in the General Hospital Colombo, and had three teachers and 25 students. It offered a course of three years duration until in 1873 the course was extended to four years. Its progress was rapid. In 1880 the medical school was raised to the status of a college (renamed Ceylon Medical College) and in 1884 the course was extended to 5 years.

In 1875 Mudaliyar Samson Rajapakse gifted the land on which the present Faculty is located. Sir Charles Henry de Soysa, Muhandiram A.Simon Fernando Wijegooneratne and Mudaliyar Vimala Gunawardana donated the buildings. These buildings are no more and the Anatomy block, built in 1913, is the oldest building now. In 1887, the Diploma of Licentiate of Medicine and Surgery (LMS) granted by the College became registrable with the General Medical Council (GMC) of the United Kingdom.

The Ceylon Medical College and the Ceylon University College, which had been established in 1921, formed the nucleus of the University of Ceylon, which came into being in 1942. The status of the Ceylon Medical College was elevated to the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ceylon and the diploma of L.M.S. was replaced by the degree of M.B.,B.S. Until it became the Faculty of Medicine, the Medical College was administered by the Civil Medical Department and its successor the Department of Medical and Sanitary Services. Dr. W.R. Kynsey served as Principal Civil Medical Officer (PCMO) between 1875 and 1897 and contributed much towards the college in its early years. Kynsey Road, which runs between the National Hospital and the Faculty, is named after him. In 1942 the Faculty of Medicine had six Departments - Physiology, Anatomy, Pathology, Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Surgery. Departments of Public Health (Community Medicine) and Forensic Medicine were added in 1949 and 1951 respectively. At present there are 14 Departments. The Departments of Biochemistry and Pharmacology branched off from the Department of Physiology, Parasitology and Microbiology from the Department of Pathology, and Paediatrics and Psychological Medicine from the Department of Medicine. There are 5 Units in addition to these departments - the Malaria Research Unit, the Human Genetics Unit, the Molecular Biology Unit, the Medical Education Development and Research Centre (MEDARC), and the Audio-Visual Unit. From 25 students in 1870, the student number increased to about 500 in the '60s and 1533 at present. The staff strength too has increased considerably.

Current Status

The Faculty at present provides for the education and training of undergraduates in allied health sciences. The course in Pharmacy is a well established one at the faculty while that for Physiotherapy is now three years old. In addition courses ranging from medico-legal sciences to those in medical education are regularly conducted. There is also a strong ethics review committee for processing of research projects and training of staff in ethical practices. These have provided for an innovative and vibrant academic environment within the faculty.

In the future the faculty is gearing itself for the rapid changes in the health and medical educational needs of the country. It has taken the steps towards using advanced technologies by forward thinking. In doing so it is our intention to establish and strengthen Inter departmental, inter faculty, inter – university and international links.

The Faculty has close links with several hospitals for teaching, training, clinical services and research. These include;

  • The National Hospital of Sri Lanka (Colombo General Hospital)
  • De Soysa Maternity Hospital (DMH)
  • Castle Street Hospital for Women (CSHW)
  • Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children
  • National Eye Hospital - Sri Lanka
  • National Cancer Institute, Maharagama
  • National Institute for Mental Health, Angoda

Notable alumni

Current Chairs and Heads of Departments and Special Units

Dean: Prof. Rohan W. Jayasekara


  • Chair: Prof. Rohan W. Jayasekara
  • Head: Dr. M. Madhuwanthi Dissanayake


  • Chair: Vacant
  • Head: Dr. S. Wasalathanthri

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Chair : Prof. Sunethra Athukorale
  • Head : Prof. Jayantha Welihinda


  • Chair: Prof. Chandu de Silva
  • Head: Prof. Chandu de Silva

Pharmacology & Pharmacy

  • Chair and Head: Prof. Laal Jayakody


  • Chair: Prof. Jennifer Perera
  • Head: Dr. Channa Senanayake


  • Chair and Head: Prof. Nadeera Karunaweera

Community Medicine

  • Chair: Prof. Dulitha Fernando.
  • Head: Dr. Wasantha Gunathunga

Forensic Medicine & Toxicology

  • Chair and Head: Prof. Ravindra Fernando

Clinical Medicine

  • Chair: Prof. Rezvi Sheriff
  • Head: Prof. Ariaranee Gnanathasan


  • Chair and Head: Prof. Nandadeva Samarasekera


  • Chair and Head: Prof. Manouri P. Senanayake

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

  • Chair and Head: Prof. Harshalal Rukka Senevirathne

Psychological Medicine

  • Chair:
  • Head: Prof.Raveen Hanwella

Malaria Research Unit

  • Director: Prof. Nadeera Karunaweera

Human Genetics Unit

  • Director: Prof. Rohan W. Jayasekera

Medical Education and Research Centre

  • Director: Dr. Indika Karunaratne

Chairs of Study Streams

Introductory Basic Sciences Stream

  • Chairperson: Dr. Mangala Gunathilake, Department of Physiology

Applied Sciences Stream

  • Chairperson: Prof. Anuja Abeydeera, Department of Surgery

Community Stream

  • Chairperson: Dr. Nalika Gunawardena, Department of Community Medicine

Behavioural Sciences Stream

  • Chairperson: Prof. Wasantha Gunathunga, Department of Community Medicine

Clinical Sciences Stream

  • Chairperson: Prof. Ariyaranee Gnanathasan, Department of Medicine

See also


  1. ^ Prof Sunitha Wickramasinghe
  • A history of medicine in Sri Lanka - from the earliest time to 1948. Uragoda C G. 1987. Sri Lanka Medical Association. Colombo

External links

  • The Colombo Medical faculty Website
  • A brief profile of the Faculty
  • University of Colombo website
  • The Virtual Learning Centre

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