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Faculty: Richard Gunasekera

Dr. Richard Gunasekera

Director of Graduate Programs – Biomedical/Biological/Forensic Sciences
Professor of Biology and Biochemistry

B.S., Baylor University; M.S. (Chemistry), University of Houston-Clear Lake; M.S. (Biomedical Studies), Ph.D., Baylor University.

Email: Click here

Phone: 832-842-2967

Sugar Land: Brazos Hall #369 E or Labs #353 - 355

Dr. Richard Gunasekera is the Director of Graduate Programs in the Biological Sciences at the University of Houston- Victoria, which includes both coordinating programs and directing the biological science laboratories at Victoria and Sugar Land. His main interests in teaching lie in effective communication of information to his students, stewardship, and service.

Gunasekera is a Biochemical Geneticist who earned his BS in Biochemistry at Baylor University, where he researched the synthesis of biodegradable polymers. He earned an MS degree in bio-organic chemistry from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and went on to an MS and Ph.D. in biochemical genetics at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He held a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Before founding the Biology department for UHV, Richard Gunasekera led the Program in Bioactive Phytochemicals (Medicinal Plants) at the Center for Cancer Biology and Stem Cell Research of Texas A&M University Health Science System at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. He continues to remain a collaborator of this program, and is graduate faculty with the Texas A&M University System.

Dr. Gunasekera started his teaching career with the University of Houston System at UH Clear Lake in 1987 and has taught for the Texas A&M University System and Trinity International University.

Gunasekera has presented a number of scientific publications and public lectures, and has received several awards.

Recent Awards:

  • Excellence in Research and Scholarly Activities: 2010 – 11
  • Enron Teaching Excellence Award: 2011 – 12
  • Distinguished Faculty Award: 2012 – 13
  • Sabbatical Award: 2013 - 2014 Baylor College of Medicine

Research Interests:

Biomedical research interests lie in the study of Phytochemical BioActive Molecules (PBAMS) for the prevention and treatment of cancer and related disease. By studying these nutritive products in cells at the molecular level, we learn about their disease fighting, cancer chemopreventive and therapeutic role within the human body. A wide variety of Biochemical Genetics and Cellular Biological methods are used for this research. Research students are able to do research at the graduate and undergraduate levels and participate.

Graduate genetics and genomics research consist of studying genetic mutations in classical Mendalian disorders and somatic cell mutations of DNA. An example disease is Kashin-Beck disease which is endemic to Tibet, N. Korea, and parts of China. We are currently studying DNA mutations in this disease.

Graduate Forensic Science research consist of studying DNA testing methodologies in Human DNA and developing micro-satellite marker panels for wild-life forensic science and forensic botany.

Selected Publications:


R. S. Gunasekera, Brown, A.B., and Costas, E. H. Tales from the Grave: Opposing Autopsy Reports from a Body Exhumed. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine Jul;19(5):297-301. Epub Mar 15, 2012

R. S. Gunasekera, Haschke, J., and Costas, E. H. The Judicial Use of DNA Evidence and Forensic Expert Testimony in the Criminal Justice System. Journal of Forensic Research 1:104. doi:10.4172/2157-7145.1000104, 2010

R. S. Gunasekera and K. Hyland, In vivo Regulation of Phenylalanine Hydoxylase in the Genetic Mutant hph-1 Mouse Model, Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 98: 264 - 272, 2009

R. S. Gunasekera, Cokenour, J., Sen P., Heath, D., and Han, M. "A Study of Kashin-Beck Disease in the homogeneous population of Tibet in China", European Journal of Human Genetics, 17:2, 247, 2009

R. S. Gunasekera, Cokenour, J., Arrambide, D. and Somasundaram, S. G. "Bioactive molecules from fruits and vegetables significantly potentiate traditional chemotherapy", Acta Horticulturae, 841: 55- 60, 2009

R. S. Gunasekera, Sewgobind, K., Desai, S., Dunn, L., Black, H. McKeehan, W. L. and Patil, B. "Lycopene and Lutein Inhibit Proliferation in Rat Prostate Carcinoma Cells", International Journal of Nutrition and Cancer, 58:2, 171 – 177, 2007

R. S. Gunasekera, K. Sewgobind, S. Desai, M. Moore, B. A. Rowley, D. Ochoa, W. L. McKeehan, L. Dunn, M.S., L. Geitz, J. Perkinson, and S. Somasundaram, "Differential Anti-Proliferative Activity of Carotenoids on Prostate Cancer Cells and Studies of PSA Expression in Prostate Biopsies", Journal of Nutrition, 134 (12): 3521S, 2005

R. S. Gunasekera, D. Arrambide, and S. Somasundaram, "Bioflavone 'A' Increases Chemotherapeutic Activity of Anti-tumor drug Camptothecin", Journal of Nutrition, 134 (12): 3521S, 2005

R. S. Gunasekera, Damodaran, H, Rajakarunanayake, Y., Hyland, K. The Significance of Linearity of Quantities in Electrophoresed and Blotted Materials Demonstrated by BandScan© - an Analytical Program, Proceedings of the IEEE Computer Society Computational Systems Bioinformatics Conference,
2005 I:277-8

Manuals and Books:

Gunasekera, Richard S., Engineering the Double Helix- A Cell & Molecular Genetics Manual for Biotechnology, Linus Publications, Ronkonkoma NY, 2012

Gunasekera, R.S., Edwards, C. and John Kunchandy, Step into Discovery- A Manual for Biochemistry, Biotechnology, and Forensic Science, University of Houston-Victoria, 2007