Prof. Saman Warnakulasuriya

Professor of Oral Medicine & Experimental Pathology, King’s College London, UK

Professor Warnakulasuriya holds the chair in Oral Medicine & Experimental Pathology at King’s College London. He is a consultant in Oral Medicine to King’s College Hospital and Guy’s Hospital NHS Trusts. He is the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Oral Cancer. He was awarded OBE, a Queen’s honour for outstanding achievement in the field of medicine & dentistry.

He studied at Mahinda College Galle (1954-1963), graduated from University of Ceylon (1965-69) and won a British Council Scholarship for post graduate studies in Great Britain (1972-1976). After receiving his doctorate he returned to Sri Lanka and lectured at the Dental Faculty in Peradeniya (1976-1990), established the specialty in Oral Medicine and in later years served as Professor of Oral Medicine.

In 1990, he moved to the Royal College of Surgeon in London as Quintin Hogg Research Fellow and in 1993 joined King’s College London, one of the top 30 Universities in the world. King’s has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting edge research.

Professor Warnakulasuriya has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped the understanding of causes for mouth cancer, such as the discovery that areca nut causes mouth cancer and a chronic precancerous disorder referred to as oral submucous fibrosis, mostly found among inhabitants in the Indian subcontinent. He established how alcohol metabolites permeate and act on the lining of the oral cavity, studied several oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in head and neck cancer and some emerging risk factors for oral cancer in young people.

He has participated in several expert Working Groups of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on evaluation of carcinogenic substances to humans. He has over 180 peer reviewed publications on the subject of oral cancer and a renowned speaker at international congresses. He serves on several Editorial Boards. His current research interests include examining risk factors and tumor markers (both clinical and genetic) for oral cancer in different populations, evaluating cancer detection systems, screening as a public health intervention and effective management of patients with potentially malignant disorders of the oral cavity. With other European partners he recently launched an E learning educational program on oral cancer detection: