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Spotlight On: Gayan Premaratne, postdoctoral fellow at NIA

Gayan Premaratne grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He received his bachelor's degree in Microbiology and Chemistry from St. Joseph's College, Bangalore, India followed by master's degree in Analytical Chemistry at University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Oklahoma State University in the U.S. In early 2021, he shared some information about his research and career goals.

What is your area of research focus and its impact?

My area of research is multi-disciplinary in nature. It is a combination of chemical (toxicology), bioanalytical (biosensors and bioassay development), and biomedical (proteomics and genomics related to clinical studies), and focused on one goal — to improve human health and wellbeing!

What motivated you to do your postdoctoral fellowship at NIA?

As a graduate student, most of my research projects were funded by the NIH. I was motivated to work for the NIH following my Ph.D. to supplement my skill set in bioanalytical chemistry with biomedical research techniques and to learn about clinical studies. I got in touch with my excellent mentor, Dr. Josephine Egan, who found my interest and expertise a match for her research mission.Image of Gayan Premaratne

Who or what has been the greatest influence in your career?

My first job in science as an analyst in the SGS Lanka, Ltd was the greatest influence for my career. As a junior employee, I received comprehensive training on advanced analytical techniques, management tools, and regulatory compliance of a variety of raw materials and products. Also, the managers and senior staff recognized my potential and sponsored my master's degree, which paved me the path to enter the graduate school in the United States.

What are some of your hobbies in your spare time?

I love socializing and making new connections. I am an outdoor enthusiast and love to explore nature. I also find time to volunteer for religious and social activities. I have an awesome family (my wife, son, and daughter) who make an excellent team to enjoy these hobbies with me.

There is no end point in career development. Each day there is something new to add to your bag of learning to sharpen your skills towards your intended career path.

— Gayan Premaratne

What's next for you?

I have recently accepted a position as a scientist working on analytical sciences at the Boehringer Ingelheim in New Jersey. Down the line, I hope to transition into a managerial role as I am passionate about working with people and guiding and empowering them.

What advice do you have for postdocs at the NIA?

If you are looking into a role in the industry, don't wait until your research project ends or your next paper gets published. Start today! Work on your CV! Get out of the comfort zone and network! You never know when and where you will find the person who would like to hire you.

NIA has a diverse and inclusive work environment and I had the privilege of working with lot of talented and smart people. Apart from the excellent research training, I found a lot of career growth opportunities. Most importantly, I learned to become a resilient scientist!

— Gayan Premaratne