Prof. Amittha Wickrema

Prof. Amittha Wickrema, Ph.D., presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, in the Section of Hematology / Oncology. Dr. Wickrema’s research work focuses on the study of normal and malignant hematopoiesis (blood cell development). His clinical responsibilities entail directing the facility responsible for preparation of blood stem cells for the treatment of patients with blood cancers such as leukemia and certain genetic conditions.

Penning lines about Prof. Wickrema is a daunting task, as he has so many accomplishments under his belt; and therefore we would like to outline some of these achievements. In the clinical arena, he is a Board Member of the International Cord Blood Bank Accreditation Agency, which is responsible for accreditation of cord blood banks around the world. These Banks are responsible for collection and preservation of blood stem cells used for transplantation of patients with life threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and genetic disorders. In addition he is part of site visit teams that inspects Cellular Therapy and Cord Blood Banks around the world for the purpose of accreditation. He is also the Director Clinical Cellular Therapy Facility, at University of Chicago Hospital and has overseen the preparation of blood stem cell units that have been transplanted to approximately 2,000 patients over the years. In the research arena his laboratory has been continually funded by multiple research agencies including the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense. He is the recipient of highly selective RO1 Research funding from the National Institute of Health and most recently received a Translational Research Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to develop approaches for early diagnosis and treatment of a pre-leukemic condition that mostly afflicts older adults. His most recent findings discovering new approaches for early detection of leukemia was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, which led to his most recent funding from the LLS. In the academic arena he is the Co-Editor of Molecular Basis of Hematology text book and is in the editorial boards of several hematology journals as well as a panel member in multiple national and international Grant Review Sections. He is considered as one of the experts in the area of human red blood cell development and has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally in prestigious Universities and Biopharmaceutical companies in his field of research. He has has over 75 peer reviewed publications, many of them in top tier journals.

In addition to the above mentioned accomplishments of his research and clinical teams, Prof. Wickrema has found the time to mentor a large number of students ranging from high school, undergraduate, graduate, post-doctoral and physician scientists. He considers mentoring high school students for careers in science and medicine to be most rewarding including a large number of first generation U.S. students born to Sri Lankan parents. Prof. Wickrema has contributed to Sri Lanka by way of speaking at the Global Form of Sri Lankan Scientists in 2012, and subsequently lecturing and mentoring at the Institute of Biochemistry in Colombo. He has also been a PhD thesis reviewer at the Sri Lanka Grants Commission & University of Colombo. He attended Ananda College (High School) in Sri Lanka before immigrating to USA.