NEWS | June 29, 2018

UC Davis lung physiology student gets the chance of a lifetime: Attending a meeting with 43 Nobel Laureates

Cameron FlayerCameron Flayer, an immunologist studying the effects of ozone on lung health at UC Davis, is one of 30 U.S. doctoral students leading the way in physiology and medicine who was selected to attend the annual Nobel Laureate meeting in Lindau, Germany this week.

Designed to foster the exchange of knowledge, ideas and experience among young scientists and the esteemed investigators responsible for landmark research, Flayer was among nearly 600 young scientists from more than 84 countries who attended lectures, discussions, master classes and panel discussions given by the Laureates.

“My favorite part of the meeting has been the opportunity to meet the generation of scientists who truly changed the world and the generation of young scientists who aim to change the world,” he said.

Tips for success from the Laureates

Flayer said he was especially interested in talking with the Laureates about their successes in science as well as the mistakes they made. Some tips that the Laureates shared to be a successful scientist:

  • Find an interesting and important question to study
  • Learn how to explain your work to scientists and the public
  • Be kind through your work
  • And be a bit lucky!

"Science communication was a major theme of the conference, and I agree that this is only becoming more important," he said. 

Flayer was paired with Sir Richard Rolent, who shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for the discovery of the split gene theory -- the idea that only certain sections of DNA code, exons, are transcribed into proteins. The work led to the development of gene splicing, a foundation of modern molecular biology. Flayer was intrigued with Rolent's lecture on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and believes it underscores the importance of scientists being able to communicate the work that they do to advance public health and knowledge.

Flayer’s research on ozone

Flayer studies ozone, one of the most common pollutants in the world and one of six components regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Using an animal model, he investigates the effects of ozone on the lungs' inflammatory cells, specifically the recently-discovered family of innate lymphoid cells, and the downstream impact on lung function. 

"What's really exciting for me is that there is so much that is unknown about them," Flayer said in his Facebook Live interview. "So when we're doing reseach on them, you really have to think of yourself as a pioneer in a lot of ways. You're discovering something that no one else has known before. You're the first person in the world to know something. That's really fun and quite rewarding."

Since 1951, Nobel Laureates have annually convened in Lindau to have open and informal meetings with students and researchers from around the world. Forty-three laureates attended this year’s meeting. Students invited to the meeting passed a competitive application and selection process managed by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) in conjunction with the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. For more information, visit the ORAU-Lindau website.

Flayer FB live interview

Facebook interview recorded live from Lindau on June 26 featured Cameron Flayer and Samantha Larsen, two American meeting attendees.