Friday, July 13th, 2018
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Medical Research Institute – Colombo
A unique partner in making a healthy Sri Lanka, completes 119 years of service to the nation
The Medical Research Institute [MRI] of Sri Lanka is the premier center in the country for bio-medical and applied health research. MRI conducts research in diversified areas in the fields of Virology, Bacteriology, Parasitology, Rabies, Nutrition, Biochemistry, Histo-Pathology, Haematology, Immunology, Entomology, Molecular Biology, Pharmacology, Mycology, Health Informatics and Animal Studies.
The MRI was built by Mr.J.W.C. de Soysa, in commemoration of Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The ceremonial opening was conducted by the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Joseph West Ridgeway, on 31st January 1900 and initially named as “The Soysa Bacteriological Institute”. Sir Marcus Fernando, a consultant physician of the General Hospital, Colombo was appointed in an acting capacity as the first head of the institute. Later Dr.Joseph Silva and Dr.S.C.Paul too acted as the director of the institute for a short period.
In 1903, Prof. Aldo Castellani, Professor of Pathology was appointed as the first Director of the MRI. Dr.Castellani had a global reputation as the discoverer of the etiology of Sleeping Sickness in 1902 in Sub- Saharan Africa. In Sri Lanka, he conducted a large number of pioneer research studies in the fields of microbiology and parasitology. As the Director of the MRI he introduced various laboratory tests for the diagnosis of bacterial, fungal and parasitic infestations for the first time in Sri Lanka. Dr.Castellani also introduced vaccination for typhoid infections. In 1909 a vaccine unit to manufacture small pox and anti-typhoid vaccines was established.