Archchun Ariyarajah

Archchun Ariyarajah

Archchun Ariyarajah

2023 3MT Finalist


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a fourth-year PhD candidate in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. My research interests include infectious-disease epidemiology, public health policy, global health, and implementation science. Previously, I worked as an epidemiologist for the World Health Organization on public health emergencies including Ebola, Zika, and cholera.

What are you researching?

I am researching waning measles immunity in Ontario using serology data from Public Health Ontario and health administrative data from ICES. I aim to measure population-level measles immunity in Ontario and the rate at which measles immunity wanes from the time of vaccination. I will also examine if there is an association between age at vaccination and measles immunity.

What impact do you hope to have on your field and / or your community?

I hope that my research can help public health understand the measles immunity profile of the Ontario population and help decision-makers evaluate whether changes to the current vaccine schedule are needed to optimize immunity and prevent future measles outbreaks. Given that the incidence of measles is increasing globally, and that vaccination rates have decreased due to COVID-19 lockdowns, it is important to ensure that populations are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles.

How has the 3MT helped you with your professional development?

In academia, we are trained to present our research findings to our peers and faculty using technical terminology, which is an important skill to develop if we are to be experts in our fields. But the 3MT has provided me an opportunity to present my research succinctly, in lay terms that can be understood by a general audience. This is a valuable skill to develop in academia, especially when we are tasked with translating the knowledge we generate for a wider community. We have a responsibility to ensure that knowledge does not sit in an ivory tower but is instead accessible and used for action.