Vidya Jyothi, Emeritus Professor Eric Hamilton Karunanayake (B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc.)


Professor Eric Hamilton Karunanayake is the Founder Director of the Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IBMBB), University of Colombo. Professor Karunanayake served the IBMBB as the Founder Director from 2003-2006.

Professor Karunanayake has made a land mark, successful and singular contribution to national development by making a very successful negotiation of a soft loan on 15 million Swedish Kroners in year 2000 from SIDA, for the civil construction and obtaining equipment of IBMBB which is a Centre of Excellence at the University of Colombo and has become a national asset.

Vidya Jyothi, Emeritus Professor Eric Hamilton Karunanayake, founder and former Director of IBMBB was awarded The World Academy of Science Award for Building Science Institutions in Central and South Asia in appreciation of his magnanimous role in securing funds from Sweden for building IBMBB seeing through its completion and nurturing its expansion during his tenure as Director. Prof Karunanayake received this award at the Third World Academy of Science (TWAS), Regional Conference held from 4-5 th December 2016 in Bangalore, India.

Prof Karunanayake receiving TWAS award

Professor Karunanayake joined the University of Colombo (then University of Ceylon) and graduated with Chemistry Honours in 1967. He continued his postgraduate studies at Imperial College, UK to obtain DIC, MSc (1972) and PhD (1975) in Biochemistry. In 1986 he received specialized training in Genetic Engineering and obtained Diploma rDNA from University of Uppsala, Sweden. Professor Eric H. Karunanayake was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) by University of Colombo in year 2008 in recognition of his contribution to Science.

Professor Karunanayake has served the University of Colombo since 1980 in various capacities, from being a Lecturer at Department of Biochemistry from 1980-1986, as an Associate Professor from 1986-1987, Professor of Biochemistry from 1987-1994 and as a Senior Professor from 1994  -2003 at the Faculty of Medicine. From 2003-2006, he served the IBMBB as the Founder Director. After retirement, he continues to contribute to IBMBB in various capacities, as a member of the Board of Management, Chairperson, Research and Higher Degrees Committee-IBMBB and as Emeritus Professor in Biochemistry contributing to postgraduate teaching and research training.

During the tenure of Professor Karunanayake at the University of Colombo, he has held several administrative positions. He was the Head of the Department of Biochemistry from 1987 – 1989 and from 1991 – 2002, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine. Professor Karunanayake was appointed as the Chairman, National Research Council from July 2005 – September 2013.

Professor Karunanayake had supervised / co-supervised 26 PhDs at University of Colombo. Some of them are serving other faculties in University of Colombo, other universities, Research Institutes and some are serving overseas institutions. Cost for training of these PhDs (15) were from research grants he obtained from SIDA/SAREC.

Professor Karunanayake’s main contribution to University and National Development was in human capacity development in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and related disciplines with the research training at PhD/MPhil/MSc levels. This research training was supported by a total amount of 28.8 million Swedish Kroners from Grants obtained from SAREC and the International Programme in Chemical Sciences (IPICS), University of Uppsala, Sweden.

Professor Karunanayake is a Chartered Chemist and Fellow of Institute of Chemistry Sri Lanka and a Fellow of Institute of Biology Sri Lanka. In 2004, Professor Karunanayake was awarded the Titular National Honour of Vidya Jyothi by H.E. the President. He was also elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka in 1987 and as a Fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences in Trieste, Italy in 1994.

Apart from the Award of the prestigious Titular National Honour of Vidya Jyothi by H.E. the President, Professor Karunanayake has received various awards, including

  • E. President’s awards for Scientific Publications for the years, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2010
  • Professor George Fleming award jointly to him and his co-authors for the paper published in the British Veterinary Journal in 1997
  • The Kandy Society of Medicine Health Research Award in 1997 in recognition of his contribution to health sector research
  • Professor Balasubramaniam Gold medal for excellence in research awarded by the University of Jaffna, 2005

Vidya Jyothi, Emeritus Professor Eric Hamilton Karunanayake continues to give aspiration and guidance to young students.

Inspiring and guiding young scientists…