portrait of dr wijenayake


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Contact Information

Call: 204-258-3894

Email: s.wijenayake@uwinnipeg.ca

Dr. Wijenayake (PhD)

Assistant Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology
Principal Investigator

The University of Winnipeg


Dr. Wijenayake is an Assistant Professor at the University of Winnipeg. She is an early career researcher with expertise in cell & molecular biology, biochemistry, epigenetics, extracellular vesicles, developmental biology, and bioinformatics (sequenced “big” data). She is passionate about uncovering the therapeutic potential of milk-derived exosomes, especially in the context of improving neonatal health. Mechanistic insights obtained from her research can be used to improve nutritional benefits of formula feeding in premature neonates, fortification of pasteurized human donor milk with bovine and/or human milk-derived exosomes, and the development of oral therapeutics for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in premature neonates in Canada. She anticipates her research will identify multitudes of novel genes and developmental pathways that could be altered by epigenetic changes in response to maternal obesity and shed light on an important epigenetic regulator, milk-derived exosomes and milk microRNAs that may govern early life development.

Dr. Wijenayake is a big foodie, loves to cook, run, do yoga and Pilates, and travel. She has an 80 pound German Shephard (Bella) who keeps her on her toes. She is a dedicated research mentor, a passionate teacher and a strong advocate of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization.

  • Fav Scientist: Dr. Marie Curie
  • Fav Book: The English Patient
  • Fav Movie: All 8 Harry Potter Movies
  • Fav Artist: The Weeknd


  1. 2012 - 2017

    Doctor of Philosophy

    Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
  2. 2010 - 2012

    M.Sc. with Specialization in Epigenetics

    Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
  3. 2005 - 2009

    B.Sc. Honors with Specialization in Biochemistry

    University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Professional Appointments

  1. 2022-Current
    Assistant Professor (Tenure-Track)
    The University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
  2. 2017-2021
    Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
    University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Awards & Recognitions

  • 2022-2023
    Manitoba Medical Service Foundation Research Operating Grant for Early Career Researchers
  • 2015
    Coralie Lalonde Innovation Award in Science, University of Ottawa, Heart Institute
  • 2022-2027
    NSERC Discovery Grant with an Early-Career Researcher Supplement
  • 2019-2021
    NSERC postdoctoral research fellowship. Ranked 11th of the 250 top applicants.
  • 2014-2015; 2015-2016; 2016-2017
    Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology for Research Excellence