Dr Niluka Goonawardane

Dr Niluka Goonawardane


Niluka Goonawardane is a Wellcome CDA Fellow and Group Leader in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences. Niluka studied Molecular Medicine at University of Brunel before completing a PhD in 2015 in Molecular Virology at the University of Reading. She went on to complete postdoctoral positions at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University of Oxford and University of Leeds. In 2023, she was awarded a prestigious Wellcome CDA Fellowship to set up her independent research group.

Research interests

Studies in the Goonawardane lab use a range of multidisciplinary yet complementary approaches to gain insight into how arboviruses (mainly those that are tick-borne) establish infections in the human brain. The lab employs the latest 3D human mini-brain organoids and BBB-organ models to achieve these aims. Key areas of interest include the cellular mechanisms underlying viral persistence, understanding the basis of strain-specific disease outcomes and exploring new therapeutic avenues for arbovirus-related disease.

Main collaborators

  • Prof Diane Griffin, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA.
  • Prof Charles Rice, Rockefeller University, USA. 


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD 2015, Reading

Professional memberships

  • The Microbiology Society