The School of Pharmacy Welcomes Chat Abeywickrama as Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry

Chathura (Chat) Abeywickrama has joined the School of Pharmacy's Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UConn as an Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry.

Abeywickrama holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from The University of Akron, along with a BS in Chemistry from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Before joining UConn, he served as a Senior Researcher in the Department of Structural Biology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital focusing on developing intramolecularly photostabilized fluorescent dyes for bioimaging applications.

At UConn, Abeywickrama’s research will focus on the design and development of biocompatible, bright, and photostable small-molecule fluorescent dyes in the Near-Infrared (NIR) region for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. These probes will primarily serve as reliable and sensitive fluorescent biomarkers for organelle detection, tracking cellular activities in real-time and sensing specific biomolecules in intracellular environments. Additionally, he will develop small molecule probes for photodynamic therapy and (Bio)chemical sensing in external environments. His research will widely utilize fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy and synthetic organic chemistry. Abeywickrama and his research group will aim to fine-tune existing fluorescent dye skeletons to develop novel hybrid fluorophore systems with improved performance.

“Chat’s strong background in organic chemistry and biochemistry makes him a valuable addition to the faculty in our department,” says José E. Manautou, Department Head for the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “His expertise in fluorophore development and small molecule design techniques holds great potential for advancing this field of investigation and for opening up new avenues for collaborative research.”