Two eminent Sri Lankan professors of the University of Hong Kong, Prof. Lakshman Samaranayake and Prof. Malik Peiris were awarded high academic honours when they were bestowed Endowed Professorships. Prof. Lakshman Samaranayake was appointed the Tam Wah-Ching Professor in Dental Science and Prof. Malik Peiris the Tam Wah-Ching Professor in Medical Science. Both endowments amount to HK$ 20 million and the interest proceeds will be utilized for research and development by them.
An educationist, administrator, researcher and specialist in infectious diseases, Prof. Lakshman Samaranayake has been the Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Hong Kong for more than six years as well as the Director of the Prince Philip Dental Hospital where the faculty is housed.
After graduating in dentistry in Sri Lanka, Prof. Samaranayake specialized in infectious diseases and was awarded a fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists, UK. He served at the University of Glasgow and then at the University of Alberta before taking up the post of Chair Professor of Oral Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong.
He continues his research on oral candidiasis, the commonest human fungal infection and being the author of over 300 refereed papers is considered one of the leading experts in the world on the subject. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Investigative and Clinical Dentistry and consultant to the Council on Dental Practice for the American Dental Association. He is the recipient of many awards including the Distinguished Scientist Award from the International Association for Dental Research, USA.
Prof. Malik Peiris is Chair Professor of Microbiology, Honorary Consultant at Queen Mary Hospital and Scientific Director of The HKU- Pasteur Research Centre in Hong Kong. Prof. Peiris was responsible for setting up a rapid viral diagnostic service at Queen Mary Hospital in treating the bird flu H5N1 and played a key role in the discovery of a novel coronavirus that was the cause of SARS.
His work included the discovery of the aetiological agent causing SARS, development of diagnostic tests and understanding the pathogenesis and epidemiology of the disease. His current research encompasses pathogenesis, virus-tropism and innate immune responses to virus infections and clinical disease burden of influenza and other respiratory viruses.
Prof. Peiris has over 320 research publications to his credit and is ranked by ISI Essential Science Indicator as a 'top 1% most cited international scientist' worldwide. He is an expert advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), a fellow of the Royal Society of London and was awarded the Legion d'Honneur of France.