The Human Genetics Unit (HGU), Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo together with John Keells Research (JKR), a unit established by John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) to carry out futuristic scientific research, are pleased to announce the successful sequencing of the entire genome of ‘Goda Wee’ – an indigenous rice variety. This is the first time that such a feat in the field of science was achieved within the country in Sri Lanka.
Sequencing of Goda Wee was done in the only genome sequencing facility in Sri Lanka located at the HGU. This facility was established in 2014 with research grants from the University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka and other funding agencies.
The work was carried out by Prof. Vajira H. W. Dissanayake MBBS, PhD, FNASSL (Director HGU and Principal Investigator), Dr. Sanjeewa Sinhabahu PhD (Lead Scientist), Dilini Gunawardana MSc (Scientist) and Chathura Wijesinghe BSc (Bioinformatician) from the Synthetic Biology Group at the HGU which was established in 2014 in collaboration with JKR as a University-Industry partnership.
Prof. Vajira H.W. Dissanayake, who is also a member of the National Biotechnology Council of the Coordinating Secretariat for Science Technology and Innovation (COSTI) as well as the Biotechnology Committee of the National Science Foundation (NSF), commenting on this achievement stated: “This is a unique milestone in the annals of Science and Technology in Sri Lanka. We have proved that Sri Lanka now has the capability to protect and preserve our biodiversity within the country. This will also open up the opportunity for Sri Lanka to build a new wave of scientific enterprise based on local knowledge and innovation creating wealth for the country. That would in turn create new job opportunities for Sri Lankan science graduates, most of whom now leave the country or leave science and join other fields due to lack of scientific jobs.”
Head of John Keells Research Dr. Muditha D. Senarath Yapa PhD stated: “JKR is proud to be a part of this nationally important milestone which opens the door to many futuristic commercial applications. This proves the ability of Sri Lankan scientists to carryout groundbreaking research which can contribute to national development.” The team from JKR also comprised Madushani Kannangara MSc (R&D Scientist).
HGU and JKR would like to acknowledge the support given from the Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI) at Batalagoda, especially Dr. Kapilasiri Udawela PhD under the direction of Dr. Amitha Bentota PhD, Director, RRDI.