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Wickramasinghe, Sunitha (1941-2009)

  • Wickramasinghe, Sunitha Nimal (1941-2009), haematologist
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The following is an interim description which may change when detailed cataloguing takes place in future:

Please note that the majority of this archive consists of patient data that is highly sensitive in nature. When the archive is catalogued, the patient data will require closure for the lifetime of the data subjects in accordance with the 1998 Data Protection Act. For fuller information on how the library handles sensitive archival data, see our Access to Archives policy

Papers relating to Sunitha Wickramasinghe's haematology research and patients, 1970s to early 2000s. Includes numerous black and white prints of electronmicrographs (EMGs) of patient blood and bone marrow with related index books, including HIV patients; some correspondence about specific patients and cases; EMGs of fish and amphibians; a set of his published papers; material relating to alcohol toxicity research; some material relating to international conferences he attended; and some material relating to haematology lectures.

Note that material relating specifically to Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anaemias (CDA) was transferred directly to Oxford University which already acquired other CDA material prior to the transfer of material to the Wellcome Library.



Physical description

11 transfer boxes

Biographical note

Sunitha Wickramasinghe was a specialist in red blood cell formation and diseases that occur as a result of defects in that process, such as rare forms of anaemia. He was an expert in the ultrastructure of the bone marrow and in inherited disorders of the red cell making important contributions to understanding defective red-cell maturation and ineffective formation in thalassaemia and related disorders. During his career he was a leading authority on congenital dsyerthropoietic anaemias, setting benchmarks for their diagnosis and management, an expert on pathophysiology of thalassaemias, megaloblastic anaemias and the effects of alcohol toxicity on the bone marrow and the bone marrow in HIV infection. He was innovative in his use of the electron microscope for examination of marrow.

Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), Jul 1941, he studied at the Royal College and Ceylon University, qualifying as a doctor in 1964. Moving to the UK, he obtained a PhD from Cambridge University in 1968, funded by a Gulbenkian studentship. After that he went to Leeds University Medical School as a clinical research fellow in 1969, rising to senior lecturer. His work centred on blood-cell formation in bone marrow and he published his first book on the subject in 1975, Human Bone Marrow.

In 1978 he became reader in haematology at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London, which became Imperial College Medical School (at St Mary's) the following year. He was appointed Professor of Haematology, a post he held until retirement in 2000. He was deputy dean at Imperial College School of Medicine at St Mary's in 1997. During his time at Imperial he built up the Haematology Department and developed the diagnostic lab. He established and developed a BSc degree course on haematology. He was popular with both his students and his many patients and built up strong connections with colleagues in the US, China, Japan, Sweden, Italy Germany, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

In 2000 he formally retired as emeritus professor and took up a position at Oxford University at the then Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. Diagnosed with myeloma, a cancer of the bone-marrow tissue, around this time, Sunitha however continued his clinical and research work as visiting professor and honorary consultant haematologist at the Radcliffe Hospitals. He retired in 2008 due to the progress of his condition.

Sunitha Wickramasinghe was a prolific writer, publishing well over 200 research papers chiefly relating to abnormal red blood cell formation and the diseases this caused. He wrote and edited eight books, including two textbooks on blood and bone marrow pathology (editor) and Lecture Notes on Haematology from the 5th to the 8th editions (1991-2008) (co-author).

He was awared the Cambridge ScD 1984, and fellowships of the Institute of Biology (1982), Royal College of Pathologists (1986) and the Royal College of Physicians (1991). He was a guest lecturer at Ferrara Univesity, Italy in the 1990s and was made an honorary fellow of the Sri Lankan College of Haematologists in 1999.

Copyright note

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  • English

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