Anatomy Block Centenary Commemoration – Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo

The Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine,  University of Colombo celebrated its hundredth anniversary on the 3rd of November 2013. The “Block” as the Anatomy building is well known was opened in 1913 by Sir Robert Chalmers the then Governor of Ceylon.  Since then generations of medical students have passed through its doorways taught by eminent academics. The Anatomy Block Centenary Commemoration was a celebration of this architectural monument and heritage of scholarship.

The Commemoration was organized by a team of academics, non-academics and medical undergraduates lead by the Head of the Department of Anatomy, DrMadhuwanthiDissanayake, under the patronage of Prof. RohanJayasekara, Senior Professor in Anatomy and Dean Faculty of Medicine, Colombo. The event was graced by Prof KshanikaHirimburegama, Chairperson University Grants Commission. Retired senior academics of the Department of Anatomy, Professors, Deans and administrative officers of the University of Colombo and academic and non-academic staff representing all departments of the Faculty, students, members of Sri Lanka Medical Association(SLMA), the Colombo Medical School Alumni Association (COMSAA) and many other distinguished invitees were among the participants.

The Sunday morning event started with the Welcome Address delivered by the Head of the Department of Anatomy DrMadhuwanthiDissanayake. This was followed by the Keynote Address by Prof RohanJayasekara who was introduced to the gathering by DrAjithMalalasekara Senior Lecturer, Department of Anatomy. Prof Jayasekara recounted the significant milestones achieved by the department over the last 100 years in the Keynote Address titled “100 years and Beyond”. Along with the illuminating details of history retold,a few inspirational thoughts expressed are as follows,

“Our Centennial offers us not only the occasion to celebrate our distinguished history, but also provides a window through which we can begin contemplating our future.”

“This year as we celebrate the centenary of this department and as we launch into its next millennium, the dignified maturity and the firm spirit of initiating, innovating and implementing has never burned so bright.”

He concluded with the words,

“This Department basks in the glory of a rich past. Today, faith has given us the courage to face the present with confidence and the future with expectancy. ”

A Centenary Souvenir with extracts of the Keynote Address and many interesting contributions from the alumni received from distinguished medical professionals, medical students and well-wishers was launched on that day by DrMadhuwanthiDissanayake, Head, Department of Anatomy, University of Colombo and DrNirmalaSirisena, Lecturer Department of Anatomy and Head Souvenir Editorial Committee. The Souvenir is a precious collection of memories shared in the form of prose, poetry and photographs, a collector’s item of over 90 pages.

The day was filled with remembrance of pioneering Professors of the Department who worked for the Department, Faculty and the Nation. The Anatomy museum, which contains specimens meticulously dissected through the years, was dedicated on this day to the memory of the late Prof P.S.S. Panditharathne, Chair of Anatomy from 1975 to 1998. Many of the specimens seen in the museum were dissected by him and placed in the museum for the learning of generations of students. His citation was read by Dr D. J. Anthony Senior Lecturer, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo.

The Department of Anatomy conducted an Educational workshop titled “A Journey through the Human Body” in August of this year for G. C. E. Ordinary and Advanced Level students as part of the centenary celebrations of the Department. The motivating idea behind this was to instil in school children an enthusiasm and curiosity about the Anatomy of the human body and hopefully promoting enthusiasm towards a career in medical and allied health specialties.  This event was a collaborative effort of the academics of the department, research assistants, non-academic staff and medical students. During the Block Commemoration ceremony the service rendered by the non-academics, research assistants and medical students were duly recognised by presenting them with certificates of appreciation.

Following the Vote of Thanks proposed by Prof VajiraDissanayake, Professor in Anatomy, the participants of the Centenary Commemoration had the opportunity to relive their past as medical students of the Block, through a guided tour of the Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre by two senior lecturers of the department Dr. MirnaKumaradas and Dr. HemaliGoonesekara. Declared a Historical monument by the Conservation Division of the Archaeological Department, this amphitheatre is currently in the process of being renovated.

The commemoration concluded mid-morning with many participants being immersed in the glorious past; listening to inspiring speeches, meeting their fellow batch mates, recounting tales of student days and wandering through the Old Anatomy Amphitheatre.

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