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Local Doctor Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Innovative Medicine, Research and Volunteerism

January 5, 2006

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Physician and researcher Sunil Wimalawansa won a lifetime achievement award from the Sri Lanka Foundation, the Los Angeles-based international organization's highest honor for the Sri Lankan community.

"It is a great privilege for me to receive this prestigious award from the Sri Lanka Foundation," said Dr. Wimalawansa, MD, PhD, FRCP, DSc, chief of endocrinology, metabolism and nutrition at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "I am honored to be recognized as a leader among Sri Lankan people around the world."

Dr. Wimalawansa (WIMALA-wanza), of North Brunswick, who is also a professor of medicine and director of the Osteoporosis Center at the medical school, was presented this year's award at the Third Annual Sri Lanka Foundation Awards, held at Universal Studios, California, in November, for his accomplishments during his 30-year career, including helping to raise more than $200,000 and leading dozens of projects for tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

In addition to his current positions at the hospital and medical school, Dr. Wimalawansa's achievements include a diploma in business of medicine from Johns Hopkins School of Business, several Glenn Foundation Awards for endocrinology and aging, and several young investigator awards from national and international societies. He is currently working on an executive master's of business administration degree (E-MBA) at Rutgers Business School.

His research has focused mainly on metabolic bone disease, but has also included development of novel cost-effective therapeutic agents for osteoporosis, alleviation of preeclampsia of pregnancy and premature delivery, investigations of biochemical and molecular approaches to cardiovascular disease, as well as the development of several novel methods of drug administration.

Overall, Dr. Wimalawansa holds seven patents; has published 120 peer-reviewed scientific papers, 30 book chapters and four books; and has given 90 invited lectures and 200 scientific presentations. He also serves on national review committees for the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and NASA.

Dr. Wimalawansa is also involved in many volunteer activities. He is founder and president of the International Foundation for Revitalization, Empowerment, Education and Development, a US-based charity dedicated to improving underprivileged communities. He is also founder and president of a self-funded education foundation in Sri Lanka and a member of a Japanese education foundation.

The Sri Lanka Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to improving the lives of the people of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan communities worldwide. Each year, individuals of a Sri Lankan background are honored with awards including lifetime achievements, exceptional achievements and exceptional performances in a variety of fields, including science and the arts.

About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is a 965-bed academic medical center with campuses in New Brunswick and Somerville, NJ.  Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation, cancer care, stroke care, neuroscience, joint replacement, and women’s and children’s care including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (www.bmsch.org). 

As the flagship Cancer Hospital of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the principal teaching hospital of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, RWJUH is an innovative leader in advancing state-of-the-art care. A Level 1 Trauma Center and the first Pediatric Trauma Center in the state, RWJUH’s New Brunswick campus serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness.

RWJUH has been ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report seven times and has been selected by the publication as a high performing hospital in numerous specialties.  The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital has been ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report three times. In addition, RWJUH was named among the best places to work in health care by Modern Healthcare magazine and received the Equity Care of Award as Top Hospital for Healthcare Diversity and Inclusion from the American Hospital Association.

Both the New Brunswick and Somerset campuses have earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety, including the prestigious Magnet® Award for Nursing Excellence and “Most Wired” designation by Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine. The Joint Commission and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services have designated the New Brunswick Campus as a Comprehensive Stroke Center and the Somerset Campus as a Primary Stroke Center.

The American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer has rated RWJUH New Brunswick among the nation’s best comprehensive cancer centers and designated the Steeplechase Cancer Center at RWJ Somerset as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center.  The Joint Surgery Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for total knee and total hip replacement surgery.