Dr. Jeya T. Nadarajah
A high school science class ignites a passion for research and medicine
Since discovering her passion for microbiology in her grade nine science class, Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jeya Nadarajah has never looked back.
“It was love at first sight ever since I grew bacteria in a Petri dish,” she said with a laugh.
“I loved bacteria, I loved microbiology, and I loved infections. I would read books just for fun about plagues and how resistance develops. To me, the history of infectious diseases represents the history of civilization. So much of society is reflected in the history of infectious disease.”
However, Dr. Nadarajah’s career path to practice her passion has not always been straightforward.
“Initially, I thought I wanted to strictly conduct research in microbiology,” she said.
“But, when I was doing my Masters and working at Sunnybrook, I saw how the infectious disease physicians translated their work at the patient bedside into their research and their research back to the patient bedside and I realized this was the way I wanted practice in the field.”
Dr. Nadarajah also soon realized that practicing in a community hospital – and specifically at MSH – was the place for her. “During the last year of my fellowship, I was practicing at different community hospitals and really came to appreciate the sense of community at MSH and the great bond and connection staff and physicians have with each other,” she said.
“The collegiality is the most incredible thing I’ve seen and the atmosphere is amazing. Everyone at MSH is here to work as a team for the patient and no one’s opinion is any less valid than anyone else’s.”
Outside of her clinical work, travel and exploration is a major part of Dr. Nadarajah’s life. Her travels with family and friends – including her husband and four children – have led her to visit locations such as Colombia, the Amazon and Machu Pichu. Here at home, she enjoys hiking, kayaking and has recently also taken up surfing as a new hobby.
Dr. Nadarajah also has a passion for charitable causes. Three years ago, she and her siblings founded the Nadarajah Family Foundation for their parent’s 40th anniversary. The foundation has helped build schools in Ghana and Laos, as well as contribute to other humanitarian initiatives.
When asked what people may not know about her, Dr. Nadarajah admits that many people may be surprised to learn that she spent nine years in the Canadian Armed Forces during her studies.
“It was probably the most defining period of my life,” she said.
“When you’re in the army, you don’t think about yourself, it’s about the team. You push yourself to physical, emotional and mental limits that you would never push yourself to on your own. And the discipline and respect for authority you learn are invaluable."
“They are lessons that I have and continue to apply throughout my life.”