Vaccine Sciences Symposium 2017: A Profile on Our Student Prize Winners


27 Dec 2017

PHO hosted its fourth Vaccine Sciences Symposium (VSS) on November 15, 2017. The Symposium brought together over 165 researchers, health care practitioners, public health professionals and students to share diverse perspectives and critically examine immunization issues.

This year, students had the opportunity to showcase their immunization projects through a series of short, three-minute presentations. The top student prize went to Lauren Ramsay a PhD candidate in Health Services Research at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto. Lauren presented on her research project “Measles Control during Elimination: Is current public health action worth the efforts?”

We caught up with Lauren to learn more about her experience at VSS 2017.

What is your research project about?

“Early in 2015 there was a measles outbreak in Ontario that resulted in 18 cases of measles, 16 of which occurred in Toronto and the Niagara region. Measles cases in Ontario prompt public health action, including case and contact follow up and vaccine administration. The resource-intense outbreak response in 2015 raised the question of whether or not it was good value for money. This research project sought to answer that question using economic evidence from the healthcare payer perspective. It was a particularly interesting context in which to explore the cost-effectiveness of the measles outbreak response due to Ontario’s high vaccine coverage and measles elimination status, which play a role in measles transmission in Ontario.”

What interested you in presenting at VSS 2017?

“The diversity of the attendees is what got me most interested in presenting at VSS 2017. It seems rare, coming from an academic setting, to have the opportunity to present to front-line public health professionals, people involved in policy, and researchers all at once. The intersection of these groups is where things have the potential to get really interesting and impactful. As a student, I knew that having the opportunity to stand in front of these people (even for just 3 minutes!) was an important development opportunity for me.”

How was your experience presenting at VSS 2017?

“Like many others, I get major jitters when it comes to public speaking, and the impressive turnout at the symposium didn’t help my nerves. However, it turned out to be a really positive experience presenting to such an engaged and friendly audience. It was clear that everyone was there to support you and that they were genuinely interested in what the presenters were speaking about.”

What are a couple things you learned while attending VSS 2017?

“I learned a lot from all of the presentations, but the presentations from Dr. Nicole Le Saux and Dr. Jeff Pernica on vaccine safety were particularly informative for me. It was really interesting to learn about the different work being done by the The Canadian Immunization Monitoring Program, ACTive (IMPACT) and the Special Immunization Clinics Network (SIC).”

Congratulations to Lauren and our other student prize winners at VSS 2017:

1st prize — Lauren Ramsay
“Measles Control during Elimination: Is Current Public Health Action Worth the Effort?”
Health Services Research
Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto
2nd prize — Jingqian Liu 
“Mycobacterium tuberculosis mutant with Isr2 gene deletion is attenuated in animal models of infection”
Master of Public Health, Epidemiology
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
3rd prize — Raina Loxley 
“Sero-epidemiology of Varicella in Ontario, 2013-2014”
Master of Public Health, Epidemiology
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
4th prize — Hadia Hussain 
“Determinants of influenza vaccine uptake among health care workers in acute care hospitals in Canada”
Master of Public Health, Epidemiology
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
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Updated 27 Dec 2017