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International Week 2023 – University of Peradeniya - International Symposium on Pathogen Genomics
| 29th November 2023

The International Symposium on Pathogen Genomics, organized by the Board of Study in Biomedical Sciences at the Postgraduate Institute of Science (PGIS), University of Peradeniya, in collaboration with the International Relations Office (InRo), University of Peradeniya, was successfully held on November 29th, 2023, at the PGIS conference hall. This event was organized as a hybrid event, with over 50 participants joining both virtually and physically from all over the country. Participants from various disciplines, including molecular biology, microbiology, bioinformatics, epidemiology, biomedical sciences, and agriculture, participated in this event. The symposium began with a brief inaugural ceremony attended by Prof. HMTGA Pitawala , Director of PGIS; Prof. Neil Alles, Director of InRO; Dr. Roshan Madalagama , Principal Scientist of Veterinary Research Institute of Sri Lanka; Dr. Priyanga Wijesinghe, Chairperson of the Board of Study in Biomedical Sciences; Dr. Piyumali Perera, Secretary of Board of Study in Biomedical Sciences, PGIS; and participants who joined virtually and physically. The symposium featured three speeches from eminent researchers in the field, followed by an expert panel discussion. Dr. Roshan Madalagama from the Veterinary Research Institute elucidated the National Policy on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and discussed the advantages and limitations of genomics within the country's current context. Dr. Ruklanthi de Alwis from Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore focused on the Asia Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Asia PGI) and its implementation in resource-limited settings, particularly emphasizing disease surveillance. Dr. Lakmal Jayasinghe from Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT), joining from the UK, delved into the comprehensive capabilities of ONT as a tool for analyzing genetic material from any pathogen, by anyone, anywhere. Furthermore, all speakers highlighted job opportunities in related fields, targeting postgraduate students and early-career professionals. Recognizing pathogen genomics as a relatively novel discipline for most of the participants, Dr. Priyanga Wijesinghe conducted a pre-symposium session on November 27 th covering the basics of genomics to better equip the attendees to reap the maximum benefit from the symposium. The symposium culminated in a panel discussion involving experts such as Prof. Priyanka De Silva, Prof. Rasika Jinadasa , Dr. Lakmal Jayasinghe, and Prof. Veranja Liyanapathirana. This discussion addressed the remaining questions and charted a path forward in the field. Participants offered valuable feedback following the International Symposium on Pathogen Genomics. Their input emphasized the need for more practical aspects and increased interaction in future sessions. Extended workshops spanning 2-3 days were suggested to delve deeper into a wider array of topics. Attendees expressed their interest in various subfields of genomics, and the utilization of pathogenic genomics in vaccine preparation and antimicrobial resistance mechanisms. Many found the session highly informative and expressed gratitude to the organizing committee, advocating for the continuation of similar symposia with hands-on experiences.