Legal Name
DepartmentSchool of Science, Technology and Health
Biola AffiliationsFaculty
Office LocationLim Center 228

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Baylor University
  • M.S., Baylor University
  • M.S., University of Houston-Clear Lake
  • B.S., Baylor University

Biography

Richard Gunasekera, Ph.D., has enjoyed a 20-year career in higher education as professor and a scientist in the field of Biochemical Genetics and Forensic DNA. He earned his bachelor’s in biochemistry at Baylor University, where he researched and published in organic synthesis as an undergraduate. Gunasekera earned a master’s degree in bio-organic chemistry from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, a master’s in molecular genetics and a doctorate in biomedical Sciences at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Before coming to Biola in 2018, Gunasekera founded the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Houston-Victoria and acted as the Department Head and later as Director of Graduate Studies. He has held faculty and research positions at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Rice University in Houston. Gunasekera’s research now spans several interdisciplinary fields such as cancer biology, forensic DNA studies, nano-biotechnology and biochemical genetics. He has also received awards for excellence in teaching, research and as a distinguished faculty member from his previous institutions. 

Working with his students and colleagues in research Gunasekera stays committed to the student and the classroom. He believes that all teaching in the sciences is an extension of rigorous research and discovery, and that a science professor is best when he professes what he practices in the laboratory. Thus, he considers teaching both graduates and undergraduates in the classroom and laboratory in a Christ-centered environment as his first calling. He is committed to work as a team member to contribute toward building a world class institution and continue to make Biola a national leader in the sciences.

Affiliations

  • Research Scientist, NanoCarbon Center & Adjunct Professor ofBiosciences at Rice University, Houston, Texas.
  • Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture, Seattle.
  • William Carey International University.
  • Forensic Cases, DNA Expert & Forensic Consultant.

Awards

  • Best Professor Award: 2015-2016, Baker College, Rice University, Houston, Texas.
  • Sabbatical Award: 2013-2014, William Carey International University, and Baylor College of Medicine.
  • Distinguished Faculty Service Award: 2012-2013, University of Houston-Victoria.
  • Enron Teaching Excellence Award: 2011-2012, University of Houston-Victoria.
  • Excellence in Research and Scholarly Activities: 2010-2011, University of Houston-Victoria.
  • Honorary Doctorate in International Development awarded by William Carey International University for medical research done among the sick in Tibet, China, India, Peru and North Korea.

Publications (Selected)

  • "Lutein inhibits growth of human prostate cancer cells and potentiates capsaicin, curcumin, and the traditional chemotherapy agent, camptothecin," Gunasekera, R. S.; Somasundaram, S.; Mitchell, M.; Arrambide, D.; Black, H.S.; Current Topics in Phytochemistry, Vol. 12: 1-9, 2014.
  • "Phyto-Bioactive Food Pyramid© A Healthy Dietary Plan for Preventing Certain Common Cancers," Gunasekera, R. S.; Baig, J.; Somasundaram, S.; W.C. International Development Journal, Oct, 2014, Vol 3: Issue 4.
  • "Tales from the Grave: Opposing Autopsy Reports from aBody Exhumed," Gunasekera, R.S.; Brown, A.B.; Costas, E. H.; Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine (5):297-301; July,19.
  • "The Judicial Use of DNA Evidence and Forensic Expert Testimony in the Criminal Justice System," Gunasekera, R.S.; Haschke, J.; Costas, E. H; Journal of Forensic Research 2010.
  • "In vivo Regulation of Phenylalanine Hydroxylase in the Genetic Mutant hph-1 Mouse Model," Gunasekera R.S.; Hyland, K.; Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 98: 264 - 272, 2009.
  • "Disease in the homogeneous population of Tibet in China," Gunasekera, R.S.; Cokenour, J.; Sen P.; Heath, D.; Han, M; A Study of Kashin-Beck, European Journal of Human Genetics, 17:2, 247, 20.
  • "Bioactive molecules from fruits and vegetables significantly potentiate traditional chemotherapy," Gunasekera, R.S.; Arrambide, D.; Somasundaram, S; Acta Horticulturae, 841: 55- 60, 2009.
  • "Lycopene and Lutein Inhibit Proliferation in Rat Prostate Carcinoma Cells," Gunasekera, R.S.; Sewgobind, K.; Desai, S.; Dunn, L.; Black, H.; McKeehan, W. L.; Patil, B; International Journal of Nutrition and Cancer, 58:2, 171 - 177, 2007.
  • "Differential phosphorylations of constitutive NFkB Ser 468/536 by limonoids and cell growth of MDA MB 231 human breast cancer cell line," S. Somasundaram' Pearce, K.; Gunasekera, R.S; Jayaprakasha G.K.; Bhimanagouda S.; Acta Horticulturae, 841: 55-57, 2009.
  • "Differential Anti-Proliferative Activity of Carotenoids on Prostate Cancer Cells and Studies of PSA Expression in Prostate Biopsies," Gunasekera, R.S.; Sewgobind, K.; Desai, S.; Moore, M.; Rowley, B. A.; Ochoa, D.; McKeehan, W. L.; L. Dunn, M.S.; Geitz, L.; Perkinson, J.; Somasundaram, S.; Journal of Nutrition, 134 (12): 3521S, 2005.

Presentations

  • 2016 Science and Technology for Society International, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Presented on "DNA Analysis for Individualization in Forensic, Biomedical and Genomic Sciences, Section Emerging Technologies in Biotechnology." October, 2016.
  • American Science Affiliate, Winter Day Conference, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, Calif. January 25, 2014.
  • American Council for Medicinally Active Plants, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Ark. Presented on “The effects of lutein, camptothecin, and curcumin on prostate cancer and the role of miRNAs in the LnCap cancer cell transcriptome.” May 22 - 24, 2012.
  • Texas Society for Genetics Annual Conference, Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Presented on "Forensic Genetics." March, 2010.
  • Title V Faculty leadership program between Houston Community College and Baylor College of Medicine. Presented on "CSI Texas: Forensic Science from recent criminal cases." April 24, 2008.
  • International symposium in Lhasa Prefecture, China. Presented on "Current Methods in Molecular Genetics and DNA Analysis." July 2007.
  • National Science Foundation Chautauqua Series, Baylor College of Medicine. Presented on "An Introduction to Forensics and DNA Forensic Biology." May 24-26, 2007.

Research Interests

  • Cancer Biology
  • Nano-molecules/phytochemical Research
  • Biochemical Genetics of neurodegenerative disorders
  • Forensic DNA

Courses

  • Biochemical and Molecular Genetics
  • Phytochemicals, Cancer and Disease
  • Research Methods in Science
  • Introduction to Bioinformatics
  • Advanced Cell Biology and Proteomics
  • Analytical Chemistry & Forensic Toxicology
  • Forensic Biology & Criminalistics
  • Advanced Forensic Science Survey
  • Advanced Practicum in Forensic Science
  • Applications for Bioinformatics

Media Interviews

  • Pushing the Limit of Academics with Richard Gunasekera, The Review Magazine, June/July 2014.
  • Carcinogenesis expert to speak in Victoria about chronic myeloid leukemia, Victoria Advocate, March 28, 2011.
  • Baylor College of Medicine expert to speak about skin cancer protection, Victoria Advocate, Feb. 21,2011.
  • UHV recognizes three faculty for teaching, service, research, Victoria Advocate, May 16, 2010.
  • "Students gather DNA evidence at UHV camp", Victoria Advocate, July 16, 2010.
  • "Who did it? Follow the DNA: Area students learn more about science at forensic camp," Victoria Advocate, July 24, 2008.
  • "Teens are CSI Agents for a Week," KAVU, KVCT, KMOL, KVTX News Channels 24, ABC, CBS, July 18, 2008.
  • "Community Crossroads 12/23/07 News - Community Crossroads: A DNA crime lab for the Victoria region, Dr. Richard
  • Gunasekera\UH-V Biology," KAVU, KVCT, KMOL, KVTX News Channels 24, ABC, CBS, December 23, 2007.
  • "CSI Victoria!" KUHTV News Channel 24, ABC, CBS, Victoria, Texas, June, 2005.
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