Adding another dimension to the GMRI


GMRI Honorary Research Associate, Dr Kusal Wickremesekera

The GMRI has attracted another highly regarded person to work on cancer stem cell research, while at the same time securing significant expertise in a major new field of surgical research.

GMRI Honorary Research Associate, Dr Kusal Wickremesekera MBChB, PhD, FRACS, a research scientist, and a specialist upper gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary (liver) surgeon at Wellington and Southern Cross Hospitals, has joined the team after a long association with Dr Swee Tan.

“Swee has established this fantastic Institute and now I am fortunate enough to be able to contribute to the exciting field of stem cell research,” Dr Wickremesekera says.

However, Dr Wickremesekera is also keen to bring his expertise and interest in insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity surgery, and liver and pancreatic cancer into the GMRI laboratory.

“The prospect of researching diabetes and obesity at the GMRI is just in its infancy, but it’s definitely something we’re looking into,” Dr Wickremesekera says.

“We’re interested in the effects of obesity-related surgical operations, such as sleeve gastrectomy, and the fact that a number of these operations cure insulin resistance and (Type II) diabetes overnight.

“Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in the world, so there would be huge health implications if we could understand why this surgery cures diabetes so quickly.

“This research would add another dimension to the important work undertaken at the GMRI.”

Dr Wickremesekera says he is very impressed with the team and facilities at the GMRI.

“My training has taken me to many places around the world and what the GMRI has achieved is cutting edge research that has led to paradigm shifts in patient care – I’m very excited to be part of that,” he says.

Dr Wickremesekera is also a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Surgery at the University of Otago – Wellington, and is actively involved in teaching medical students at the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.