Department: Clinical Sciences and Services

Campus: Hawkshead

Ayona is the Course Director for MSc Veterinary Education and is a LIVE group member working within the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. She teaches both undergraduates and postgraduates and is currently working on several international projects that include collaborations with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Jordan, Netherlands and Sweden. Ayona is passionate about distance and online education, is a Fellow of the Centre for Distance Education at the University of London and was awarded the National Teaching Fellowship (UK) in 2012.

Ayona graduated as a veterinarian from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and followed this with an MSc in Animal Nutrition and a PhD from University of Aberdeen, UK. She then did several postdoctoral, teaching and research appointments at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, University of London (Royal Postgraduate Medical School), University of Leiden, the Netherlands and at the Open University in Milton Keynes. In 2003 Ayona joined the RVC as the Director of Distance Learning and worked until 2008 in expanding the distance learning programme. She supported the development of a new MSc by distance learning, a short course programme and with DEFRA an accredited online training course for government veterinarians at the Border Inspection Posts. In 2008 Ayona joined LIVE team to take a leading role in developing a new MSc in Veterinary Education.

The MSc in Veterinary Education is the first discipline specific education programme for veterinary and para-veterinary educators was launched in 2010. The MSc is offered via face-to-face and distance learning. The PG Certificate in Veterinary Education which is the first part of the MSc is accredited by the UK Higher Education Academy and those who complete the programme become Fellows of the Higher Education Academy.

In 2010 Ayona completed an MA in Medical Education and this MA, which was taken more than 20 years after her PhD, provided not only an opportunity to reconnoiter a different discipline but also to experience andragogy at first hand. Ayona says "this experience is immensely useful in leading the MSc in Veterinary Education, helping me ensure that appropriate teaching and assessment methodologies are used for effective learning and engagement'.

In 2012, Ayona was awarded the National Teaching Fellowship, awarded by the Higher Education Academy, UK for individual excellence. (


Ayona’s research is wide and varied. The emphasis has changed from the enteric nervous system to more livestock related research and pedagogy. Currently she is involved in pedagogical research to enhance student learning, distance education methods and teaching and learning in veterinary education. In addition she is also involved in elephant health and reproduction research. The external funding reflect the nature of her research:

External funding (since joining the RVC):


  1. In 2016 - Brian Nixon Legacy award fund to improve the health, husbandry and breeding for future sustainability of the Asian elephants in Thailand – A collaborative programme between Chiang Mai University, Thailand and RVC, UK. 
  2. In 2015 Funding from the OIE – World Organisation for Animal Health under the Twinning programme for Curriculum and Faculty Development of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Jordan University of Science and Technology.
  3. In 2014 Funding from Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for Curriculum development of School of Veterinary Medicine, Mongolian School of Agriculture, collaborative project between SVMB, Mongolia and RVC, UK.
  4. In 2014 Brian Nixon Legacy award fund to improve the health, husbandry and breeding for future sustainability of the Asian elephants in Thailand – A collaborative programme between Chiang Mai University, Thailand and RVC, UK.
  5. In 2013 Knowledge Economy Partnerships (British Council) 2013-14 awrd with India - Development and delivery of online e-courses for continuous professional development programmes in veterinary and animal sciences
  6. In 2013 Teaching and Research awards CDE (2013 -2014) - Sponsored/scholarship students: Does additional support in the form of teaching and in-country institutional support have an impact on their retention, progression and level of achievement
  7. In 2012 Teaching and Research awards CDE (2012-2013) - Teaching observations at a distance – the effectiveness of the process and the impact on practice
  8. In 2010 and 2011  British Council (PMI2) to develop a collaborative delivery programme on ‘Elephant health and reproduction’ - online and practical course - jointly with Chiang Mai University in Thailand
  9. In 2009- Animal Care Trust to develop an online learning resource to enhance basic science teaching within a clinical context.
  10. In 2008 – Commonwealth Scholarship Commission to develop a partnership programme and offer 15 scholarships for MSc in distance learning and to develop a 5-year teaching programme to develop distance education capacity of two universities in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  11. In 2008 - to develop a short course on clean milk production for veterinary services in Sri Lanka under the Strategic Alliances and Partnerships strand of the Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education-2 (PMI2).
  12. In 2007 – Commonwealth Scholarship fund to offer 6 scholarships to MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health.
  13. In 2006 – JISC Plagiarism detection case study grant for a project titled ‘Prevention of plagiarism in online postgraduate teaching’.
  14. In 2006 – Euro-Asia Link Project on ‘Managing the health and reproduction of elephant population in Asia’. A 3-year project funded by the EU under Asia-Link programme. A 1.1 million grant, part allocation to RVC.
  15. In 2005 –EU grant on ‘Improving the quality of pork and pork products for the consumer – Development of an innovative, integrated and sustainable food production chain of high quality pork products matching consumer demand. A 5 year project funded by the EU 6th framework programme. A 15.2 million grant, part allocation to RVC.
  16. In 2004 - Contract with Defra to develop a short distance learning course on ‘Import Control of Products of Animal Origin at Border Inspection Posts’ for training Official Veterinary Surgeons at Border Inspection Posts.
  17. In 2003 – RCVS small grants scheme for the development of a course titled ‘Management of Infectious Viral Disease outbreaks in Animal Populations’.
  18. In 2003 - Development of a short course programme by Distance Learning for Continuous Professional Development from EISA, UoL.


For publications and citations list please see Google Scholar 

Kalupahana, R., Silva-Fletcher A (2016). A participant–led programme for field veterinary training to identify bacteriological quality of milk from the farmer to the retail outlet. Food Control 63, 128-134.

Chapman-Waterhouse E., Silva-Fletcher A., Whittelstone K., (2016). Examining the use of web-based Reusable Learning Objects by animal and veterinary nursing students, The International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies. 11 (3) 28 -39.

Silva-Fletcher, A., May SA (2016). Developing teachers in veterinary education REDU. Revista de Docencia Universitaria 13 (extra), 33-52.

Holloway, P, I. Musallam, M. Whiting, L. Good, S. Van Winden, A. Silva-Fletcher, M. Ababneh, E. Abu-Basha, J. Guitian (2015) Building capacity to reduce biological threats in the Middle East. Veterinary Record, 177, 337 -338.

May SA, Silva-Fletcher A (2015). Scaffolded Active Learning: Nine Pedagogical Principles for Building a Modern Veterinary Curriculum
Journal of veterinary medical education, 1-8

Algers A, Silva-Fletcher A (2015). Teachers’ Perceived Value, Motivations for and Adoption of Open Educational Resources in Animal and Food Sciences, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET) 10 (2), 35 -45

Romain S,  Angkawanish T, Bampenpol P, Pongsopawijit  P, Sombatphuthorn P, Nomsiri R, Silva-Fletcher A (2014). Diet composition, food intake, apparent digestibility, and body condition score of the captive Asian elephant (Elephas maximus): A pilot study in two collections in Thailand. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 45(1):1-14.

Silva-Fletcher A, May H, Magnier K, May S (2014) Teacher Development: A Patchwork-Text Approach to Enhancing Critical Reflection in Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Educators. J Vet Med Ed 

A Algers, A Silva-Fletcher, N Gregory, M Hunt (2013) The development of a new methodology for knowledge sharing in the interface between university and society - an example from the meat sector. Meat Science 95 (3) 672 – 678.

Korsak K and Silva A T, Saffrey MJ (2012) Differing effects of NT-3 and GDNF on dissociated enteric ganglion cells exposed to hydrogen peroxide in vitro Neuroscience Letters 517 (2) 102 – 106

K Korsak, NF Dolatshad, AT Silva, MJ Saffrey (2012) Ageing of enteric neurons: oxidative stress, neurotrophic factors and antioxidant enzymes. Chemistry Central Journal 6 (1), 1-7 

Bapodra P, Bouts T, Mahoney P, Turner S, Silva-Fletcher A, Waters M (2010). Ultrasonographic Anatomy Of The Asian Elephant (Elephas Maximus) Eye. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 41(3): 409–417

Alam MR, Gregory NG, Jabbar MA, ,Uddin MS, Kibria ASMG, A. Silva-Fletcher A (2010) Skin injuries identified in cattle and water buffaloes at livestock markets in Bangladesh. Vet Record 167 (11) page: 415-419

Alam M R, Gregory N G, Uddin§, M S, Jabbar M A, Silva-Fletcher A, Kempson A G C, Saifuddin A K M (2010) Frequency Of Heat Stress In Cattle And Water Buffalo At Livestock Markets In Bangladesh, JCVA 13-17

Silva AT., Wardhaugh T., Dolatshad NF., Jones SL., Saffrey MJ (2008)
Neural progenitors from isolated postnatal rat myenteric ganglia: expansion as neurospheres and differentiation in vitro. Brain Research, 1218 (1) 47-53

Gregory, N.G., von Wenzlawowicz, M., Alam, R.M., Anil, H.M., Yesildere, T. and Silva-Fletcher, A. (2008).
False aneurysms in carotid arteries of cattle and water buffalo during shechita and halal slaughter. Meat Science 79, 285-288.

Alam, M.R., Gregory, N.G., Silva-Fletcher, A., Saifuddin, A.K.M. and Ahasan, A.S.M.L. (2007)
Welfare issues during animal transport and slaughter in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Veterinarian 24, 87-97.

Rodriguez JJ, Davies HA, Silva AT, I. E. J. De Souza, C. J. Peddie, F. M. Colyer, C. L. Lancashire, A. Fine, M. L. Errington, T. V. P. Bliss, M. G. Stewart (2005)
Long-term potentiation in the rat dentate gyrus is associated with enhanced Arc/Arg3.1 protein expression in spines, dendrites and glia. European Journal Of Neuroscience 21 (9): 2384-2396

Dolatshad NF, Silva AT, Saffrey MJ (2004)
Identification of GFR alpha-2 isoforms in myenteric plexus of postnatal and adult rat intestine. Molecular Brain Research 107 (1): 32-38.

Silva AT, Blair J, Korsak KK, et al. (2001)
Protective effect of NT-3 against H2O2 induced death of myenteric neurons in vitro.
Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 122 (12): 33.

Silva AT, Dolatshad NF, Wardhaugh T, et al. (2000)
Evidence for undifferentiated progenitor cells in the postnatal myenteric plexus: Nestin expression. European Journal of Neuroscience 12: 263-263 Suppl. S 2000

Dolatshad NF, Silva AT, Saffrey MJ (2000)
Expression of neurturin and GFR alpha-2 in the postnatal CNS and ENS of rats
European Journal of Neuroscience 12: 270-270 Suppl. S 2000

Saffrey MJ, Wardhaugh T, Walker T, et al. (2000)
Trophic actions of neurotrophin-3 on postnatal rat myenteric neurons in vitro
Neuroscience Letters 278 (3): 133-136

Wayte, J., Silva AT, Krausz T, et al. (1993)
Observations on the Role of Tumor-Necrosis-Factor-Alpha in a Murine Model of Shock due to Streptococcus-Pyogenes
Critical Care Medicine 21 (8): 1207-1212

Silva AT, Appelmelk BJ, Cohen J (1993)
Purified Monoclonal-Antibody to Endotoxin Core Fails to Protect Mice from Experimental Gram-Negative Sepsis
Journal of Infectious Diseases 168 (1): 256-257

Martin RA, Silva AT, Cohen J (1993)
Effect of Anti-TNF-alpha Treatment in an Antibiotic Treated Murine Model of Shock due to Streptococcus-Pyogenes
FEMS Microbiology Letters 110 (2): 175-178

Silva AT, Cohen J (1992)
Role of Interferon-Gamma in Experimental Gram-Negative Sepsis
Journal Of Infectious Diseases 166 (2): 331-335

Silva, AT, Bayston, KF, Cohen, J (1990)
Prophylactic and Therapeutic Effects of a Monoclonal-Antibody to Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha in Experimental Gram-Negative Shock
Journal of Infectious Diseases, 162 (2) 421-427

Silva AT, Appelmelk BJ, Buurman WA, et al. (1990)
Monoclonal-Antibody to Endotoxin Core Protects Mice from Escherichia-Coli Sepsis by a Mechanism Independent of Tumor-Necrosis-Factor and Interleukin-6
Journal of Infectious Diseases 162 (2): 454-459

Silva AT, Greenhalgh JFD, Orskov ER (1989)
Influence of Ammonia Treatment and Supplementation on the Intake, Digestibility and Weight-Gain of Sheep and Cattle on Barley Straw Diets
Animal Production 48: 99-108 Part 1

Silva AT, Orskov ER (1998)
Fiber Degradation In The Rumens Of Animals Receiving Hay, Untreated Or Ammonia-Treated Straw
Animal Feed Science And Technology 19 (3): 277-287

Silva AT, Orskov ER (1998)
The Effect of 5 Different Supplements on the Degradation Of Straw in Sheep Given Untreated Barley Straw
Animal Feed Science and Technology 19 (3): 289-298

Silva AT, Wallace RJ, Orskov ER (1997)
Use of Particle-Bound Microbial Enzyme-Activity to Predict the rate and Extent of Fiber Degradation in the Rumen
British Journal of Nutrition 57 (3): 407-415

Takahashi K, Silva AT, Cohen J, Lam HC, Ghatei M.A, Bloom SR (1990)
Endothelin immunoreactivity in mice with Gram-negative bacteraemia: relationship to Tumour Necrosis Factor.
Clinical Science 79, 619-623

Silva AT, Orskov ER (1985)
Effect of Unmolassed Sugar-Beet Pulp on the Rate of Straw Degradation in the Rumens of Sheep given Barley Straw
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 44 (1): A50-A50

Silva AT, Orskov ER (1984)
Effect of 3 Different Rumen Environments on the Rate and Extent of the Rumen Degradability of Untreated Straw, Ammonia-Treated Straw and Hay
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 43 (1): A11-A11

Other Publications

Silva AT (2006)
Independent learning in an ever-changing professional world. Veterinary Times, 36 (21) 16 -17.

Ayona teaches animal nutrition to undergraduates and postgraduates and is involved in the assessments of both groups. In addition she teaches and assesess in the MSc in Veterinary Education programme and as the course director gives academic direction to the overall programme. This area of her teaching has been strengthened by the MA in Medical Education that she gained recently and through research in veterinary education.

Experience in Postgraduate Developments

Ayona has extensive experience in postgraduate course development in both distance/online and face-to-face delivery modes for veterinary and paraveterinary sectors with appropriate pedagogy, standards, quality and credit frameworks to ensure flexibility and progression for professional development. This unique expertise is highly recognised within the University of London distance learning programmes and her external appointments and external funding that I have received to develop partnerships, research collaborations and short courses.

Ayona is currently involved in several veterinary curriculum development projects. In addition, Ayona is involved in the design, development and implementation of training courses in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Most of these are training for veterinarians and have been funded by the British Council, European Union and the Welcome Trust. Since 2010 a specific training course on Elephant Health and Reproduction has been jointly developed with the Chiang Mai University in Thailand and the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka using a new blended model of an online course followed by practical training in Thailand. This course is offered annually and in 2014 the 4-week online course starts in May and will be followed by the practical course held in Sri Lanka. 

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