Sri Lankan Specialist Brings Glory To Her Motherland

September 30, 2022


Dr Yanushi Dullewe Wijeyeratne is the granddaughter of the late Dr Nissanka Wijeyeratne (one-time Minister of Education and Justice of Peace in Sri Lanka).  Dr Yanushi Dullewe Wijeyeratne works at St. George’s University Hospital in London as a Speciality Registrar and Fellow in Electrophysiology and Devices NIHR Clinical Lecturer. In 2022, she was awarded the highly competitive NIHR (National Institute for Health and Care Research) Clinical Lectureship in Cardiology at St George’s, University of London. National Institute for Health and Care Research Clinical Lectureships in Cardiology are highly sought after in the UK, with less than ten awarded annually. In such circumstances, it is an honour for a Sri Lankan to receive such an award. She holds a double doctorate, having recently completed her PhD in Cardiac Genetics and Stem Cell models of inherited cardiac conditions at the world-renowned St George’s, University of London


Dr Wijeyeratne was a past student at Colombo International School and had her junior school education at The British School and Bishop’s College in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 2008, she continued to maintain research during her clinical years at medical school, during which time her research took a more significant clinical focus.

She graduated in Medicine from the University of Nottingham in 2009 and gained membership in the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) in London in 2013. She had her general Cardiology training at St George’s Hospital before she commenced her research.​ ​Through ‘the thrombosis and haemostasis research group at the University of Nottingham, guided by Professor Stan Heptinstall, she designed and conducted clinical research studies on antiplatelet drugs used in treating acute coronary syndromes. Through such research, she combined research with her clinical training, which stimulated her to enjoy the differences in the pace of work between frontline clinical medicine and research. Subsequently, she completed the academic foundation programme, which reinforced her previous experience in clinical research and allowed her to develop additional skills in clinical academia.

Following her general Cardiology training at St George’s Hospital in 2020, she started her Cardiology subspecialty training in Cardiac Electrophysiology and Implantable Cardiac Devices at King’s College, London. Having completed her PhD, she inherited cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) at St George’s, University of London. She showed a keenness to continue her sub-specialisation as an Academic Cardiac Electrophysiologist. The St George’s NIHR  Clinical Lectureship gave her the ideal opportunity to pursue both her clinical and research interests.

She developed her interest in research during her pre-clinical training at the University of Nottingham before she was awarded the ACF. There she delved into basic science research and investigated the presence of a ‘novel receptor in platelets.’ Through this study, she learned fundamental basic science research methodology. She presented her findings to the broader scientific community. She published her first scientific manuscript as joint accountability first in 2008, and she continued to maintain active involvement in research during her clinical years.

Academic Clinical Fellowship.

Dr Yanushi Wijeyeratne was initially awarded the St George’s Academic Clinical Fellowship in 2012. How did she manage the opportunity to facilitate her development as a young clinical academic? The ACF at St. George’s hospital not only specialises in heart disease with Professor Elijah Behr, but the hospital is one of the world-renowned cardiac research groups. The presence of the hospital and university on the same premises helped her to engage in several research studies in harmony with her clinical training and implanting cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators (machines that send an electric pulse or shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat) in patients with heart rhythm abnormalities.

During her ACF at St George’s, she was allowed to contribute to clinical research studies, as well as design new research studies. Meanwhile, she was also able to further explore translational research and learn new skills in stem cell research, which eventually led to the study she embarked on for her PhD. She completed her primary medical training in the first eighteen months of the fellowship before commencing cardiology training at St George’s Hospital in 2014. After her ACF, she was awarded a Clinical Research Fellowship at St George’s to embark on her PhD focused on cardiac genetics. Then she developed in vitro stem cell models to investigate inherited arrhythmia (an abnormality of the heart’s rhythm syndrome (namely Brugada Syndrome and Long QT Syndrome).

In 2022, Dr Yanushi Dullewe Wijeyeratne was awarded the highly competitive NIHR Clinical Lectureship in Cardiology at St George’s, the University of London.  She specialises in Cardiac Electrophysiology, which involves carrying out removal procedures to treat patients with cardiac arrhythmias. (Arrhythmia is an abnormality of the heart’s rhythm. The heart may beat too slowly, too quickly, or irregularly). These abnormalities form a minor inconvenience or discomfort potentially and become a fatal problem, including heart block, palpitations and dizziness. St. George’s Hospital enabled her not only to train in Cardiology, but the hospital is one of the largest treatment cardiac centres in the UK.

Dr Yanushi Dullewe Wijeyeratne is able to reprogram patients’ cells from skin biopsies into induced pluripotent stem cells (the cells responsible for generating contractile force in the intact heart.) This process laid the groundwork for her to study patient-specific diseases in the laboratory without subjecting the patient to a cardiac biopsy. Further, she was able to develop collaborations with the help of multiple international centres in Europe, the USA and Japan.

Dr Yanushi Dullewe Wijeyeratne will be able to reprogram patients’ cells from skin biopsies into induced stem cells capable of giving rise to several different cell types and then differentiate these cells into stem cells that carry the same genotype as the patients from whom the original skin sample was obtained. NIHR Clinical Lectureship at St George’s has provided her with unparalleled opportunities to embark on exciting areas of research whilst training as an academic Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist linked.

Dr Wijeyeratne is currently a Specialty Registrar and a Fellow in Cardiac Electrophysiology and Implantable Cardiac Devices at London’s St George’s Hospital. The hospital is one of the largest specialist tertiary cardiac centres in the UK. She specialises in Cardiac Electrophysiology (which involves carrying out ablation procedures to treat patients with cardiac Arrhythmiand implanting cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators in patients with heart rhythm abnormalities.

Dr Wijeyeratne, no doubt, brings immense glory to Sri Lanka, simultaneously supporting that Sri Lankans, on average, are well adroit, brilliant and gifted!

picture credit: Google Photos

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