In Rarified Intellectual Air

Genetic epidemiologist Roxana Moslehi will join with 250 other worldwide thought leaders in Mountain View, Calif., this weekend to exchange 'blue sky' concepts at Science Foo Camp.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 31, 2017) — By conducting groundbreaking work in her field of science, a UAlbany researcher has earned an invitation-only spot in what has been called the “Mini Woodstock of the Mind.”

Genetic epidemiologist Roxana Moslehi of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Cancer Research Center will join approximately 250 other researchers, writers, educators, artists, policy makers, investors and other thought leaders from around the world at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., on the weekend of Aug. 4-6 for the 12th annual Science Foo Camp (Sci Foo).

Termed an “unconference,” Sci Foo 2017 gathers academic peers, who meet in tents and other outdoor venues, and attend sessions having no fixed agendas. There, they observe, lead, demonstrate and interact on topics that reach beyond the traditional boundaries of their disciplines to “blue sky” concepts. It’s organized by its founder, O'Reilly Media, along with host Google and technology firm Digital Science, with support from Nature Publishing Group (NPG).

Moslehi, who was awarded a 2014 NIH grant to explore the link between chronic fatigue syndrome and the risk of cancer, merited this unique opportunity due to being lead author in the last few years on a series of papers testing a hypothesis she developed through interactions in the clinic with patients having a specific DNA repair disorder.

Sci Foo 2017 Moslehi

Scientists informally convene at one of the early Sci Foo camps.

The methodology she and her collaborators used to test the hypothesis and determine the underlying biologic mechanisms leading from genetic abnormalities to clinical symptoms was innovative and has led to novel mechanistic insights.

“We continue our work in this area exploring and refining our proposed mechanisms,” she said. She and her co-authors’ papers were published in BMC Genomics, Scientific Reports (published by NPG), European Journal of Human Genetics, and Clinical Genetics, among other journals.

“Roxana’s research using cutting edge methodology explores the genetic and immune system dysfunction found in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with that in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and could lead to important developments clarifying the causes of both,” said Laura Schweitzer, interim dean of the School of Public Health.

Moslehi positively anticipates the informal intellectual nature of Sci Foo, even if its outdoor “camp” venue will be bit unusual for her. “I expect great conversation with very interesting people in various fields whom I would normally not meet in conferences I attend and present in every year,” she said. “I look forward to presenting our research findings to the group and receiving feedback, participating in many discussions, particularly on creative and visionary ideas, and making many meaningful connections.

“The only minor physical challenge for me would be to dress appropriately down, given the emphasis on the ‘camp’-like atmosphere! I have acquired a pair of suitable sneakers for the occasion.”

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