Dinner table chats with her scientist-parents and hospital ward rounds with her Puncha, these were what inspired her, says Dr. Maheshi N. Ramasamy, Principal Investigator for the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Trial, in this interview with Kumudini Hettiarachchi
Totally relaxed, she comes on Zoom on Wednesday – at the appointed hour of 12 Greenwich Meantime Time (GMT) in Oxford, England, and 5.30 p.m. in Sri Lanka.
No one would imagine that pretty Dr. Maheshi N. Ramasamy, who is quick to smile and chats leisurely, has been having a “crazy” time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.
For, 43-year-old Dr. Ramasamy is the Principal Investigator for the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Trial. Dubbing these “exciting” times, she promptly reiterates that the very promising potential vaccine in the Oxford University/AstraZeneca pipeline is “very much a product of teamwork”. The Oxford vaccine will be manufactured by the British pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca which has made a commitment to making the vaccine on a non-profit basis throughout the pandemic so that it could be distributed globally.
As the Oxford Vaccine Group hopes to put out another strong research paper on their vaccine trials in a week, the Sunday Times looks at the life of this eminent Sri Lankan who loves to come back to her motherland to spend time with family, mainly her four “lovely” cousins who are like her siblings and her ‘Puncha’ (mother’s sister) who is well-known Consultant Physician Dr. Anula Wijesundere.
Out of the ordinary has been only-child Maheshi’s childhood, as her scientist-parents Prof. Ranjan Ramasamy and Prof. Manthri Samaranayake Ramasamy crisscrossed the globe. Born in Colombo, her early years had been spent in Saudi Arabia and Kenya, then back in Sri Lanka and onto California, United States of America, when the country was gripped by communal violence in 1983, then to Brisbane in Australia and finally back to Colombo in 1989.
Dr. Ramasamy says that her mother and aunt were both proud stalwarts and Head Girls of Visakha Vidyalaya, but she was there only briefly, just 10 months, as soon as she began her formal school education. When she returned from Brisbane, she joined Stafford International School – as her “Sinhala was not good enough” to attend Visakha – and did both her OLs and ALs from there. She was awarded the Felix R. de Zoysa Memorial Academic Scholarship and was also the Head Prefect at Stafford International.
“I had a great time at Stafford, with its wonderful teachers and amazing Principal Noreen Welikala,” she says, while her family in Colombo was also very close. She and her cousins would be dropped off at school by her aunt in the mornings and they would all go to their grandparents’ home for lunch after school. Family dinners were also a regular occurrence, usually ending on a high note