Dr. Dinesh Fernando awarded 2020 Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award

Dr. Dinesh Fernando

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Dr. Dinesh M. Fernando,post-doctoral research associate at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis was recently recognized by his former school board in Canada.

He was awarded the 2020Distinguished Catholic Alumni Award, whichrecognizes former students of the Durham Catholic District School Board who have achieved significant success in their chosen pathway.

He is currently based in Mephis with his wife Ishara.

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His parents Shirley and Rohini Fernando and brother Malik reside in Ajax, Ontario where he was agraduate of Archbishop Denis O’ConnorCatholic High School.

Dr. Fernando fondly remembers the inaugural Grade 2class and being the Grade 8 valedictorian at St. Jude Catholic School.

While at Archbishop Denis O’Connor CHS Dinesh pursued an interest in Life Sciences and also played sports as one of thestarting line for the school’s rugby and football teams. The education Dinesh received during these crucial years provided the foundational skills that led him into a world of discovery. After obtaining his B.Sc. Honours in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto he moved to Australia. While there, Dinesh studied applications of Biotechnology to Mitochondria, earning his Mastersdegree.

Fueled by a strong desire to apply his skills back home, Dinesh returned to Ontario to follow a PhD in Microbiology and Antibiotic Resistance and was awarded a Dean’s Scholarship from Ontario Tech University. His research work was instrumental in identifying antibiotic resistance genes in drinking water from First Nations reserves and was highlighted by major Canadian news media. In another study he uncovered the links between over the counterantimicrobials and resistance to clinically relevant antibiotics. These findings would later be referenced by the FDA as part of their decision to ban certain hand sanitizing products.

After earning the title Dr. Fernando, he sought another meaningful experience and joined the Postdoctoral Fellowship program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Collaborating with world class scientists he is searching for new antibiotics to combat the rise of infectious diseases. Dinesh has also developed a passion for scientific leadership and was elected as Vice Chair Secretary and Department Representative on the Postdoctoral council.

Reflecting on his Catholic education, Dinesh states: “The education and Catholic teachings that were instilled in me during my formative years have been critical to my upbringing. The guiding principals of my Catholic education has given me a lens through which I view my life, and maintained in me strength of compassion, moral guidance and conviction of values. Our early years are only the driveway on our road through life, but they represent the most transitional time of our lives. I am fortunate, I had support of parents, teachers and staff, who were shining examples of the Catholic faith.”