Prof. Tharaka Dassanayake
Professor in Neurophysiology
 
Email

tharakad@pdn.ac.lk, tlag23@yahoo.co.uk

 
TP. Number Office: +94 (0)812396299 , Mobile:+94 (0)713236147  
Fax +94 81 2389106  
Office Address

Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka

 
Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=I0hw25kAAAAJ&hl=en 
 
 
   
Educational

Doctor of Philosophy (June 2012), The University of Newcastle, NSW, AUSTRALIA
Thesis title (thesis by publication): Effects of central nervous system depressant drug overdose on cognitive functions and driving
Additional Coursework: Biostatistics B: Grade: High Distinction
Advanced Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology. Grade: High Distinction

Master of Philosophy (August 2007), University of Peradeniya, SRI LANKA
Thesis title: Cognitive effects of organophosphorus insecticide poisoning studied using reaction time, evoked potentials and event-related potentials

Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (February 2002), University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)
Graduated with 2nd Class Honours, ranked 56th in national merit order out of 556 medical graduates

   
Employment 

Present: 

  • Professor in Neurophysiology, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (since May 2015)
  • Honorary Consultant Neurophysiologist, Teaching Hospital Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
  • Clinical Researcher, South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
  • Conjoint Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia
  • Visiting Lecturer, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Dental Sciences and Faculty of Engineering University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

March 2009 - April 2015
April 2015: Senior Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

April 2012 – December 2014
Conjoint Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia

August 2009 – December 2011
December 2011: Lecturer (Casual), School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Australia

February 2004 – March 2009:
Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

August 2003 - February 2004:
Intern Medical Officer: Paediatrics, Teaching Hospital, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

February 2003 – August 2003:
Intern Medical Officer: Surgery, Teaching Hospital, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

March 2002 – February 2003:
Lecturer (temporary), Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

 
Research Interests and technical experience
  • Research interests:
    • Clinical neurophysiology
    • Cognitive neuroscience
    • Neurotoxicology of pesticides
    • Drug effects on CNS and driving
  • Technical skills:
    • Clinical neurophysiology: evoked potentials, transcranial magnetic stimulation, peripheral nerve conduction testing, EMG
    • Cognitive neurosciences: Event-related potentials, Neuropsychological assessment.

  • Training and experience:
    • Advanced cognitive assessment (Neuropsychological and Neurophysiological techniques): Calvary Mater Hospital, Newcastle, Australia (2008-2012)
    • Clinical Neurophysiology, Teaching Hospital, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (since 2002)
    • Functional neuroimaging laboratory, University of Newcastle, Australia (2008-2012)
    • South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (Since 2004).
   
Teaching
  • Undergraduate:
    • MED1102 Foundation to human physiology
    • MED1207 Cardiovascular, respiratory and alimentary functions
    • MED2111 Neuroendocrine functions, excretion and reproduction
    • EE 580 Introduction to biomedical engineering
  • Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, Sri Lanka:
    • PG diploma in Medical Physiology: Neurophysiology I and II, Medical statistics
    • MD Surgery: Central neurophysiology
   
Postgraduate Research Supervision
    1. Dr St.ewart Oxley (Doctorate in Clinical and Health Psychology, The University of Newcastle, Australia): Thesis “Influence of central nervous system depressant (CNS-D) drugs on driving performance and cognitive functions and recovery of cognitive functions following hospital treated deliberate self-poisoning with CNS-D drugs.” Completed.

    2. Dr. Chanaka Kahathuduwa (Master of Philosophy, University of Peradeniya): Thesis “Assessment of cognitive processing using reaction time, evoked potentials and event-related potentials and study of the effect of theanine on cognitive processing”. Completed.

    3. Dr. Chanika Alahakoon (Master of Philosophy, University of Peradeniya): Thesis “Development of a biomarker using single Fibre electromyography in organophosphate poisoned patients” –completed

    4. Dr. Chandana Hewawasam (Master of Philosophy, University of Peradeniya): Thesis: “Cognitive performance in siblings of patients with dementia” – in progress

    5. Ms. Aikaterini Lymperidou (MSc in Interdisciplinary Graduate Programme in the Brain and Mind Sciences, Department of Medicine, University of Crete): Dissertation: “Perception of Emotion: A cross cultural comparison of emotional evaluation” – In progress
 
Invited Speeches / Orations / Workshops conducted
  1. New Insights into Neurotoxicity and Respiratory Failure in Organophosphorus Insecticide Poisoning. Symposium Speech at 17th Annual Congress of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology. November 2018. Bali, Indonesia.
  2. Workshop on ‘Applied Statistics in Medical Research: Regression Analysis’. Annual Academic Sessions of the Physiological Society of Sri Lanka: Precongress workshop. October 2018
  3. Assessment of Cognitive Functions: Implications in Health and Disease in Old Age. Kandy Society of Medicine. Foundation Sessions. August 2018.
  4. Cognitive toxicity of pesticide poisoning and drug overdose: challenges for the transforming South Asia. Plenary Lecture at 16th Annual Congress of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology. November 2017. Kandy, Sri Lanka.
  5. Cognitive Toxicity: From Pesticides to Pharmaceuticals. Kandy Society of Medicine Oration 2017. February 2017. Kandy
  6. Role of Neurophysiologist in developing South Asia. Symposium speech at 5th Biennial Conference of South Asian Association of Physiologists 2016. Kathmandu, Nepal.
  7. Where does cognition meet vision? Neurophysiological Evidence of Attentional Enhancement of Visual Processing in Striate Cortex. Seneviratne Memorial Award Presentation at the 2015 Annual Sessions of the Physiological Society of Sri Lanka.
  8. Cognitive Functions: Principles, Assessment Techniques and Implications. 4th Biennial Conference of South Asian Association of Physiologists (SAAP-3) 2014, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  9. Application of Statistics in Medical Research. CME Short Course organized by the Kandy Society of Medicine 2014
  10. Cognitive Functions: Principles, Assessment Techniques and Implications, CME Lecture at the Postgraduate School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Peradeniya 2014
  11. Introduction to Medical Research Design and Statistics, CME Short Course organized by the Kandy Society of Medicine 2013
  12. Use of event-related potentials in the study of sub-clinical cognitive effects of organophosphates, 3rd Conference of South Asian Association of Physiologists (SAAP-3) 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  13. Effective use of resources in medical research, CME Lecture – Kandy Society of Medicine, 2012. Sri Lanka
  14. Cognitive functions and traffic accident risk in patients clinically recovered from central nervous system depressant drug overdose, Psychology Colloquium March 2012, The University of Newcastle, Australia

 
Awards and Scholarships
 
  2020: Best Oral Presentation 3rd place. Baminiwatta AKAB, Ariyasinghe DI, Hewawasam C, Dassanayake TL. Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT): Age-, Sex- And Education-Adjusted Sri Lankan Norms. Proceedings of Annual Research Sessions of Kandy Society of Medicine. February 2020
  2018: Best Oral Presentation. Wijesundara DA, Kahathuduwa CN, Amarakoon AMTWeerasinghe VSDassanayake TL. The dose-response effect of theanine on Cognition. Association of Sri Lankan Neurologists Annual Sessions. Nov 2018
  2014: KN Seneviratne Memorial Award for Research in Physiology awarded by the Physiological Society of Sri Lanka
  2013: University of Peradeniya International Research Centre (InRC) Research Grant Award 2013 for the research project Normative data for Cambridge Neuropsychological test Automated Battery (CANTAB) for Sri Lankans
  2013: Wadugodapitiya SI, Weerasinghe VS, Dassanayake TL. Assessment of functional motor disability in children with Cerebral Palsy: Neuroaxis 2013. 3rd place for best presentation
  2013: ‘Australian Education International Endeavour Alumni Excellence Award’ at the Australian Alumni Excellence Awards 2013, organized by the Australian Trade Commission and Australian High Commission of Sri Lanka, held on 23rd February 2013 in Colombo.
  2012: Best oral presentation at 3rd Conference of South Asian Association of Physiologists (SAAP-3) 2012 held in November 2012 in Colombo, Sri Lanka (for the presentation titled ‘Where does cognition meet vision? Neurophysiological evidence of attentional modulation of visual processing in striate cortex’)
  2008–12: Endeavour Postgraduate Award (awarded by Department of Education, Employment and Workplace relations of the Australian Government) for PhD
  2011: Most Outstanding Postgraduate Research Presentation - 2nd place (Honorary Mention) at University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health Fourth Annual Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Conference. 30 November 2011
  2011: Travel Award from Calvary Mater Newcastle Special Purpose Trust Fund for Australasian Society of Psychiatric Research Conference. 5-8 Dec 2011, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2011: Travel Award from School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia for Australasian Society of Psychiatric Research Conference. 5-8 Dec 2011, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2011: Travel Award from School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia for 11th International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience, 25-29 Sept 2011, Mallorca, Spain
  2010: Award for Outstanding Postgraduate Research Student Achievement, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle, Australia
  2010: Research Higher Degrees Conference Scholarship from Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle to attend North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology 7-12 Oct 2010. Denver, Colorado USA.
  2009: University of Newcastle International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (UNIPRS) International Tuition Fees Scholarship
  2009: President’s Award for Research Publication 2009
  2008: President’s Award for Research Publication 2008
  2008: Australian Leadership Award Scholarship (AusAID programme, AUSTRALIA, for the PhD programme) – offered
  2007: President’s Award for Research Publication 2007
  2004-7: Postgraduate Research Scholarship for MPhil awarded by the South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration (funded by Wellcome Trust and Australian NHMRC Grant no: GR071669MA)
  2007: Travel Grant from South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, University of Peradeniya to attend 6th International Congress of Asia-Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology 12-14 Dec 2007. Bangkok, Thailand
  2006: Travel Grant from South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, University of Peradeniya to attend XXVI International Congress of European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists. April 2006. Prague, Czech Republic
  2003: Commendable Presentation at Peradeniya University Research Sessions 2003
  1996-2001: ‘Mahapola’ Higher Education (Merit) Scholarship
  1994: Bede Memorial Prize for “Best All Round Student: 1994, St. Anthony’s College, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
 
Research Funding Obtained 
 
Year Award Type Funding body Title
Amount
2020 Education Grant 7th Asian Oceanian Congress of Clinical Neurophysiology Auditory event-related potential changes over 6 months following acute organophosphate insecticide poisoning: a follow-up study
USD 500
2020 Research grant

International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology

(awarded to Medications and Driving Working Group)
Guidelines and Best Practices for Evaluating the Causal Effects of Medications on Motor Vehicle Crashes and Driving Outcomes using Observational Data USD 13,000

2018

Travel Grant

South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration

17th Annual Congress of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology. November 2018. Bali, Indonesia

LKR 176,000

2016

Travel Grant

South Asian Association of Physiologists (SAAP)

SAAP Biennial Conference, Kathmandu 2016

LKR 150,000

2016

Research Grant

University of Peradeniya

Dose-response effect of theanine on cognition: a cognitive event-related potential study

LKR 3,803,500

2014

Travel Grant

South Asian Association of Physiologists (SAAP)

SAAP Biennial Conference, Dhaka, Bangladesh 2014

LKR 100,000

2013

Research grant

International Research Center, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Normative data for Cambridge Neuropsychological test Automated Battery (CANTAB) for Sri Lankans

LKR 135,000

2013

Research Grant

University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Development of biomarkers of neuromuscular junction dysfunction and neurocognitive dysfunction after toxic injuries

LKR
500,000

2008-2012

Postgraduate Research Scholarship

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Australian Government

Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship (ID: 434_2008) for PhD titled: Effects of central nervous system depressant drug overdose on cognitive functions and driving

AUD
214,100

2011

Travel Grant

Calvary Mater Newcastle, Special Purpose Trust Fund

Australasian Society of Psychiatric Research Conference. 5-8 Dec 2011, Dunedin, New Zealand

AUD
555.10

2011

Travel Grant

School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia

Australasian Society of Psychiatric Research Conference. 5-8 Dec 2011, Dunedin, New Zealand

AUD
875.14

2011

Travel Grant

School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia

11th International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience, 25-29 Sept 2011, Mallorca, Spain

AUD 2,300

2010

Award for outstanding postgraduate research

The University of Newcastle, Australia

Effects of benzodiazepines, antidepressants and opioids on driving: a systematic review of epidemiological and experimental evidence. Drug Safety, 34(2):125-56

AUD
250

2010

Conference Scholarship

The University of Newcastle, Australia

North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology 7-12 Oct 2010. Denver, Colorado USA.

AUD 1,800

2009

Research Grant

New South Whales Centre for Health Record Linkage

Evaluation of sedative drug overdose as a predictor of subsequent road traffic offences and accidents

AUD
23,000

2007

Travel Grant

South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration

6th International Congress of Asia-Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology 12-14 Dec 2007. Bangkok, Thailand

LKR
45,000

2006

Travel Grant

South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration

XXVI International Congress of European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists. April 2006. Prague, Czech Republic

LKR
80,000

 

Participation in Professional Development and Continuing Education Activities

 
  1. Epidemiologic Methods for Global Mental Health Research, Negombo. February 2019. Organized by Medical Research Council UK, University of Bristol and South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration

  2. Organizer and resource person in the seminar on ‘An introduction to the concepts, methods and skills in inferential statistics in medical research’ conducted by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya. February 2013.

  3. Organizer and resource person in the workshop on ‘Effective use of resources in postgraduate research’ conducted by the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya. November 2012.

  4. Post-congress workshop on ‘Clinical Neurophysiological Techniques: EMG, Evoked Potentials and Magnetic Stimulation’, 3rd Conference of South Asian Association of Physiologists (SAAP-3) 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka – Resource person

  5. Workshop on Neuroscan® EEG Data Analysis: The University of Newcastle. June 2010

  6. 9th EEGLAB Workshop. Nov 25–Nov 27, 2009. Newcastle, Australia

  7. MATLAB Fundamentals organised by The MathWorks Training Services, University of Newcastle, Australia

  8. Workshop on Introduction to STATA programming organized by South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, 24-26 July 2006, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

  9. Workshop on ‘Agrochemical Poisoning’ organized by South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration– August 2005, Colombo, Sri Lanka

  10. Public Health Emergency & Disaster Management Training Course organized by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya in Collaboration with the World Health Organization 11-17 December 2005.

  11. Workshop on Clinical Research organized by Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya -  March 2005

  12. Research Promotion and Development Programme organized by The World Health Organization and Kandy Society of Medicine, 24 April 2004

  13. Workshop on Educational Technology organized by Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya – June 2004

  14. Workshop on Orientation to Research Methodology organized by Kandy Society of Medicine and World Health Organization – April 2004

  15. Workshop on Re-designing and Evaluation of the Physiology Practical Component, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya
 

Reviewer for Indexed Journals

 
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
  • Psychological Medicine
  • European Neuropsychopharmacology
  • European Journal of Pharmacology
  • Traffic Injury Prevention
  • International Journal of Audiology
  • Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
 
Membership in Professional Associations
 
  1. Life Member, Asia-Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology (APAMT)

  2. Member, Society for Psychophysiology Research (SPR) – since 2018

  3. Clinical Researcher, South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

  4. Physiological Society of Sri Lanka – Executive Committee Member and Life Member

  5. Kandy Society of Medicine, Sri Lanka – Life Member

  6. Kandy Region Sports Medicine Association, Sri Lanka – Life member
 
Positions Held in the University and Professional Activities 
 
  1. Coordinator of the ‘Medical Statistics’ module of the Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Physiology, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine. Since 2014
  2. Chairman, Research Committee, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (2015-2018)
  3. Joint Secretary, Kandy Society of Medicine, Sri Lanka 2015-16.
  4. Member, Board of Study in Sports Medicine, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka: 2014-15
  5. Member of the Research Committee, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka -  since 2012
  6. Member of the Infrastructure Committee, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka -  since 2012
  7. Member of the Curriculum Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka – Since 2006
  8. Executive Committee member of the Physiological Society of Sri Lanka –2005 - 2008
  9. Executive Committee member of the Peradeniya Faculty of Medicine Teachers Association – 2005
  10. Steering Committee member, Training Course on Public Health Emergency and Disaster Management organized by Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya and World Health Organization – 2005
  11. Coach, Badminton Team, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka – Since 2002
  12. Member, University Sports Council – 1998
 
Community Work
  • Honorary coach for the badminton team of University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (2002-2007, 2012).
  • Numerous public lectures and workshops on research methods. sport psychology, exercise.
 
Extracurricular Activities / Interests 
  • Badminton:
    • Performed and won at college, university, provincial and national level in Sri Lanka with Colours at college, University and Provincial levels.
    • Individual event championships in Regional Open tournaments in Newcastle, Australia in 2010 & 2011.
    • The coach for the badminton team of University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (2002-2007, 2012).
  • Painting
  • Hiking

 

   
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