Prof. E. Dilip de Silva

Senior Professor of Organic Chemistry, Chair in Organic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Natural Products Reserch Group 2015-2016

We have a group of talented and motivated researchers including doctoral students, masters students and undergraduates.

Endophytic Fungi

Endophytic Fungi lives within a plant for at least part of its life. They are capable of producing medicinaly importnat secondary metabolites.

Marine Algae

Sri Lanka being a tropical country provide habitats to a large number of marine algae. Secondary metabolites isolated from marine algae have shown a high level of pharmacological potential.


In bio-assay guided fractionation bio-assays are conducted against clinically important bacteria and fungi in each step of purification of extracts.



A majority of the pharmaceuticals in clinical use today (especially antibiotics and anticancer agents) have their origins in nature, isolated mainly from terrestrial plants and soil microorganisms. Sri Lanka is a tropical island with exceptionally high biodiversity and endemism thus becomes an attractive location for the discovery of new natural products with useful biological activities.

Our research program is focused on the discovery, isolation and structure determination of novel biologically active natural products from a variety of Sri Lankan organisms. For this purpose we initially screen extracts of various organisms in antibacterial bioassays to identify extracts with potent activities and then further subject these extracts to bio assay guided fractions using a variety of chromatographic methods in order to isolate the active natural products. The structures of these compounds are determined by the application of a variety of spectroscopic methods including advanced NMR spectroscopy.

As some of the latest spectroscopic methods are not available in Sri Lanka we collaborate with Professor Raymond Andersen of The University of British Columbia, Canada for this purpose. Our research has been highly productive and has led to the isolation of a large number of novel compounds with useful biological activities. Currently we are investigating a number of medicinal plants, marine algae and endophytic fungi isolated from various ecological niches for the presence of antibacterial and anticancer compounds. In addition we have also directed our attention to a largely untapped resource in Sri Lanka, the marine organisms, especially, marine algae and sponges as a source of novel compounds.