History

The main objective of this collaboration is to strengthen the diagnostic capacities for the identification and characterization of pathogens in infectious diseases in Sri Lanka. This specifically includes the characterization of highly pathogenic viruses and the investigation of their transmission routes from potential animal reservoirs and vectors to humans. Therefore, the prevalence of highly pathogenic viruses in reservoir species, such as bats and rodents and viral pathogens that would induce encephalitis conditions in humans will be investigated by a team of scientists from the University of Colombo, RKI and North Colombo Teaching Hospital (NCTH), Ragama.

With the support of RKI, fully equipped research and diagnostic laboratories for molecular and immunological detection of high-threat pathogens and expansion of the diagnostic portfolio for pathogens relevant for differential diagnosis, were established at the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, University of Colombo and Colombo North Teaching Hospital.

Achievements from 2017 to date

  • Studies on pathogen discovery in potential reservoir hosts, e.g. bats, to investigate prevalence, transmission routes and seasonality of zoonotic pathogens.
  • Investigation of cases of unidentified encephalitis of unknown etiology from CNTH in order to identify novel pathogens, and development of custom-made diagnostics methods.
  • Trainings on the diagnostics of infectious diseases for several professional groups from UoC and CNTH.
    • Six (6) training programmes  for 5-9 trainees on molecular diagnostics (PCR, RT-PCR and NGS) and serology (ELISA, IFA) have been performed in Sri Lanka (focus on Dengue, Chikungunya, JEV and their differential diagnosis)
    • Nine (9) trainings/workshops on diagnostics, next-generation sequencing, sampling etc. were performed in Germany.
    • Four participants from the University of Colombo and NCTH participated in a “Train-the-trainer principle” workshop carried out in RKI, Berlin.
    • Two (2) PhD students (Ms Thejanee Perera and Mr Sahan Siriwardana ) received European Mobile Lab training in 2018/19  and trained to perform diagnostics and supporting clinical laboratory analysis on site during outbreaks of infectious diseases caused by pathogens up to risk group 4. One PhD student Ms Therese Muzeinick from RKI is also working in association with this project.