As a formulator, scientist and teacher, Dr Pram Abhayawardhana’s new role teaching the Chemical, Natural and Healthcare Formulation major at the School of Product Design | Te Kura Hanga Otinga is a perfect fit.
Pram’s area of interest is product formulation and in particular how this can benefit people and the planet. Her research background is diverse, starting with her undergraduate studies at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, where she completed a BSc Honors degree, majoring in pharmacy.
“My undergraduate research involved formulating a new dosage form and conducting pre-clinical studies to investigate the feasibility of utilising a very ancient system of medicine known as Ayurveda, which is practiced for centuries in some regions of the world,” says Pram.
“The proposed drug delivery route is incidental to a special anatomical feature of the skull. The results indicated that the transcranial brain targeted delivery of an analgesic drug in the form of an oil based non aqueous solution results in statistically significant antinociceptive effects under experimental conditions. This study is backing up latest clinical studies and patents in the field.”
Pram then completed her PhD in chemistry at Louisiana State University, USA, synthesising, characterising and studying behaviour of organic ligands and inorganic complexes of biomedical relevance, with eventual applications in radiopharmaceuticals in imaging and therapy.
In 2016, Pram commenced her post-doctoral research at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter), in the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology.
“My post-doctoral work involved developing extraction, purification and analytical protocols to determine the chemical identity and structure of compounds related to a devastating disease affecting a major commercial crop in Louisiana to discover the biochemical pathways associated with the disease. I also had opportunities to conduct collaborative research to investigate the changes in the chemical composition in plants resistant to insect damage.”
Pram also worked as a research and development chemist and as an intern in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries for a number of years, gaining valuable industrial experience.
In 2018, Pram joined the School of Product Design as a Chemical Formulation Technician, before moving into her lecturing role.
“The Bachelor of Product Design is such a vibrant degree. Students will graduate as well- rounded formulation developers with the entire package – from understanding design principles, to scientifically creating and testing the products applying the background skills and knowledge in science and engineering. They also gain valuable skills in packaging material development and business studies which is essential for the commercialisation of the products.
“Scientific findings sometimes lack the interdisciplinary overlapping. So collaboration, and sharing knowledge and resources is a huge advantage when it comes to creating sustainable, effective and long-lasting products.
“Teaching has always been my passion. I have had several inspirational teachers and mentors in my life who have entirely changed my future and given me the education, skills, courage and the motivation to accomplish my dreams. I hope to make a similar contribution to my students’ lives.”