Lankan-born Dr. Kanagasundrem awarded MBE

Dr. Shikandhini Kanagasundrem (known by her maiden/professional name Dr. ‘Shico’ Visuvanathan), has been recognised in the Queen’s 2021 New Year Honours list with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), for outstanding services in Microbiology and Infection Prevention and Control, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic in the U.K.

Dr. Kanagasundrem has worked at The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust (PAHT), Essex, UK, as a Consultant Microbiologist since 1994, and became the first Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the hospital in 2003.

Dr. Kanagasundrem is a Past Pupil of St Bridget’s Convent, Colombo and then went to UK for further studies. Dr Kanagasundrem studied Medicine at The Middlesex Hospital Medical School, London which is now part of University College Hospital London. She was an outstanding student winning many prizes including The Sidney Kaye prize in Physiology, The Charlotte Dixon Memorial Prize in Neurology, The Peter Flintan prize in Clinical Pharmacology and Anaesthetics, The Meyerstein Scholarship, The Allen Goldsmith prize in Ophthalmology, The Kingston Fowler Prize in Pathology and the Harold Boldero Scholarship in Medicine. 

Dr. Kanagasundrem graduated as the first Broderip Scholar of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, and was awarded the William Henry Rean Dean’s Prize for the Most Promising Young Doctor in the medical school in 1983. 

She went on to specialise in Medical Microbiology at University College Hospital London, and completed her MD (Doctor of Medicine), MSc in Clinical Microbiology and FRCPath (Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists).

With the support of the Infection Prevention and Control team, Dr. Kanagasundrem has led and controlled the hospital’s response to many infection challenges. This has enabled the hospital to be recognised for excellent standards nationally and have a great track record of low infection rates.

During the COVID pandemic, Dr. Kanagasundrem implemented important practices and changes to reduce transmission rates in the hospital. Her leadership and expertise undoubtedly reduced infections amongst patients and staff alike.

The Queen’s New Year’s Honours List recognises the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom. This demonstrates the incredible efforts of hundreds of public sector and community workers throughout 2020 and beyond

Dr. Kanagasundrem said: “I am humbled and very proud to be awarded an MBE. It is a reflection of the wonderful infection prevention and control team and microbiology team I work with, and the hard work put in by clinical colleagues and senior management alike during this pandemic.  I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me in my career, both colleagues past and present, and my family.”

Dr. Kanagasundrem has been dedicated in her work, an ambassador and advocate for staff and patient safety, and provided outstanding infection prevention control advice at all times. This award is a culmination and recognition of her expertise in microbiology, and infection prevention and control.

Shico is married to Dr. Aynkaran Kanagasundrem, and has two children, Dr. Amrit Kanagasundrem and Dr. Aishani Malde (nee Kanagasundrem). She is the daughter of Dr. Maheswari Visuvanathan (nee Sivalingam) and the late Chevalier Sinnathamby Visuvanathan, and is the granddaughter of the Founder and first Professor of Parasitology of Sri Lanka Professor Vythialingam Sivalingam.

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