Prof Nilanthi Renuka de Silva graduated MBBS from the University of Colombo in 1986 and went on to obtain a Masters in Medical Parasitology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK and MD and Board Certification in Medical Parasitology, from Colombo University's Postgraduate Institute of Medicine. She was a Commonwealth Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK in 1995/96, and a FAIMER Fellow at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington DC, USA, in 2004/05.
After a brief stint as a lecturer in Parasitology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya in 1991-93, Prof de Silva moved to the newly established Faculty of Medicine of the University of Kelaniya in Ragama in 1993. She has held the cadre chair there since 2003, and is now the Senior Professor of Parasitology. The main focus of her research has been on soil- transmitted helminth infections and other neglected tropical diseases. She has published extensively in this field, in peer-reviewed scientific journals including the Lancet, Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, Annals of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology, Tropical Medicine & International Health and the Ceylon Medical Journal. She has over 5,000 citations of her work on Google Scholar and an h-index of 27. She is an expert advisor on Neglected Tropical Diseases to the World Health Organization, serving both WHO Headquarters and the South East Asia Regional Office in many different capacities since 2000. She has served in a similar advisory capacity to other international entities: Children Without Worms at the Task Force for Global Health in Atlanta, USA; the Partnership for Child Development at Imperial College London; and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative in Geneva, Switzerland.
Prof de Silva has also pursued a long-standing interest in the education of health professionals and quality assurance in Higher Education. She has served as a member of the Internal Quality Assurance Unit of the University of Kelaniya since its inception in 2005. She was appointed Chairman of the committee managing the IQAU in 2010, and subsequently, Director, Quality Assurance Centre of the University of Kelaniya, during the period 2015 – 2018. She is also a member of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, and currently serves as its Vice-President. She has worked with the SLMC to develop Standards for Accreditation of Medical Schools in Sri Lanka, as well as with the Quality Assurance & Accreditation Council of the UGC to develop the Subject Benchmark Statement in Medicine for use in Sri Lankan universities. She was a member of the UGC's Standing Committee on Medical & Dental Sciences from 2009 to 2018 and a member of the Standing Committee on Quality Assurance from 2015 onwards. She has supported the PGIM of the University of Colombo as a member of the Board of Study in Microbiology, the Speciality Board in Medical Education, the Board of Management and its Academic Affairs, Accreditation and Examinations Committee.
Prof de Silva was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya from 2012 to 2018.