A pioneer of the Oxford Covid vaccine - Maheshi N. Ramasamy, who was born in Sri Lanka

A pioneer of the Oxford Covid vaccine - Maheshi N. Ramasamy, who was born in Sri Lanka

20 November 2020 03:25 pm

Born in Sri Lanka and having completed her medical education in the United Kingdom, Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy is now world-renowned as the pioneer of the most widely accepted vaccine for the global outbreak of Covid-19.

She holds a bachelor's degree in medicine from Christ College, Oxford University, and specializes in infectious diseases and clinical medicine at the Oxford and London Medical Institutes.

She is currently a University Lecturer, serving for the NHS Foundation Trust affiliated to the University of Oxford. Accordingly, she serves as the Principal Lecturer at Megan Medical College.

She is a Principal Investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group and an award-winning Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Oxford.

It is no coincidence that Maheshi N Ramasamy, was first mentioned in a research paper on the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, also known as the Oxford Covid vaccine, by the world - renowned medical journal - The Lancet.

Maheshi Ramasamy is the daughter of two scientists. Her mother is Prof. Manthri Samaranayake Ramasamy. An alumnus of Visakha College, Colombo, Samaranayake received a first class honors degree in Zoology from the University of Colombo and later came to the University of Cambridge on a Commonwealth Scholarship. She then became the first Sri Lankan to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. She married Ranjan Ramasamy, a Tamil scientist who had come to Cambridge University from Sri Lanka for postgraduate studies. They also have got married in Colombo.

Maheshi Ramasamy's mother, Prof. Manthri Samaranayake Ramasamy

It was a collaboration between two scientists, who became a couple of internationally renowned scientists in entomology and immunology. After studying at the University of Cambridge, they became lecturers at the University of Daman in Saudi Arabia and later came to Colombo to give birth to their daughter Maheshi Ramasamy. They later worked in Nairobi, Kenya, and were also lecturers at the Jaffna Medical College in the early 1980s. 

They later worked at the University of San Diego in the United States and Queen's University in Australia. Prof. Samaranayake Ramasamy maintained her relationship with Sri Lanka and in 1999 became the Secretary-General of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS). She died in Kandy, Sri Lanka in 2016, according to an article in the Sunday Leader, which said she was extremely proud of her only daughter, Maheshi. Her selection to the Cambridge University Medical Faculty is said to be a dream come true for Professor Manthri Ramasamy.

Today, Maheshi Ramasamy, a mother of three, is gaining international recognition for her research on the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine. We are publishing these details about her family history to emphasize that we should be wholeheartedly proud of this Oxford student because of her Sri Lankan origin.

Her Sinhala-Tamil fusion reminds us again and again that Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country.

Therefore, we as a country should be proud because she is a Sri Lankan daughter of a Sri Lankan mother and father.

Read the Lancet Journal's report on the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine here.

Safety and immunogenicity of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine administered in a prime-boost regimen in young and old adults (COV002): a single-blind, randomised, controlled, phase 2/3 trial