Christopher Farah joined The Polis Center and Center for Health Geographics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a postdoctoral fellow in April 2012. Christopher is a recent PhD graduate from the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering, University of Maine where he successfully completed a National Science Foundation IGERT Research Traineeship. Under the guidance of his advisor, Michael Worboys, professor of Spatial Information Science and Engineering and cooperating professor of Mathematics, Christopher developed a distributed event-detection algorithm deployable on sensor nodes as part of an ad hoc distributed wireless sensor network (WSN). To develop the algorithm, Christopher drew on the fields of algebraic topology, graph theory, computational geometry, and distributed algorithms. The algorithm’s correct computation, scalability, and time, message, and storage complexity were theoretically analyzed, and software models were evaluated in simulation and small-scale testbed environments. The findings were published in the journal, IET Wireless Sensor Systems.
Christopher has been a spatial statistics lead on GIS projects in the health informatics sector, with a focus in cancer informatics. Christopher has analyzed spatial trends related to health risks for the population of Maine. Specifically, various spatial autocorrelation methods have been employed to: establish a space-time profile of radon – a naturally occurring carcinogen – in the environment; identify respiratory disease clusters throughout Maine; and to determine correlations between these diseases and various explanatory variables. All spatial autocorrelation methods are stochastic in nature, drawing on Monte Carlo methods to obtain significant results. Radon findings have been published in the Journal of Health Physics. It is hoped these and future publications will drive public policy decisions to reduce population-level risks in the environment.
Over the past three years, Christopher has been involved in developing a GIS-enabled, cancer informatics software application, User Gateway. User Gateway is web-based software that links banked cancer specimens to the corresponding subject’s environment, from the subject’s birth through to cancer diagnosis, allowing users to identify and select specimens conditioned on clinical, pathological, and environmental criteria, e.g. “Identify banked specimens associated with non-smoking adenocarcinoma patients that have resided in a radon rich environment for at least 10 years.” The User Gateway will be an interoperable National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Bioinformatics Grid (caBIG) software module. Christopher’s role in the project has included writing the system specification, formulating use cases with stakeholder input, co-developing the database schema, guiding technology stack selection, creating mock-up interfaces, deploying and testing software iterations, and generally acting as a liaison between internal and external systems and non-systems stakeholders. It is expected that the software will expedite epidemiology studies by incorporating spatial statistics discovery algorithms. Initial development of the software has been published in the Journal of Biopreservation and Biobanking.