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GA4GH Community Spotlight: Neerjah Skantharajah


Neerjah Skantharajah joined GA4GH in April of 2021 as one of the newest members of the GA4GH secretariat. Serving as the Work Stream Coordinator, Neerjah provides support across all eight GA4GH work streams and is located at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. The thing that most excites her about working at GA4GH is the opportunity to assist with projects that have global impact.

What projects are you currently working on?
The purpose of my role is to harmonize the work being done across the eight Work Streams. I work on projects that aim to prevent silos and encourage collaboration between GA4GH members. For example, I recently began managing the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Group. We are creating an initiative to improve the onboarding process for newcomers so that they feel that they have a voice at the table.

What science discovery is most fascinating to you?
As a translational researcher, discoveries which use empathic design to develop impactful solutions fascinate me. Traditional radiology rooms are cold, clinical and not very child-friendly. This results in children that need medical imaging procedures, being distressed and, many times, receiving sedation to undergo a scan. Researchers discovered that decorating MRI machines to look like fantastical settings, such as a pirate ship, resulted in more positive experiences and decreased the need for sedation.

What is your favorite thing about the GA4GH Community?
The GA4GH Community is full of brilliant researchers, lawyers, engineers and other professionals. I learn something new everyday being surrounded by these individuals. It can be easy to feel intimidated by their expertise, but the kindness and understanding that each member of the community demonstrates makes me feel at home.