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Special Interest Groups

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Academic Drug Discovery
Andrew Napper, Chair
The mission of the Academic Drug Discovery SIG is to enable greater interaction between academia, pharmaceutical research companies, suppliers and other technical companies. Through a range of unique programs and events, the Academic Drug Discovery SIG will build bridges between the academic and applied sciences. These ties will result in better skilled candidates for industry as well as enhanced support for academic centers with programs focused on drug discovery, screening, automation and related disciplines.

ADMET
Ritu Singh, Ph.D., Chair and Amy Siu
The mission of the Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Toxicology SIG is to advance drug discovery and development by promoting the discussion and dissemination of principles, topics and ideas for the integration of higher throughput technologies with methods for determining toxicity, pharmacokinetics and metabolism. The goal is to accelerate the drug discovery pipeline and shorten the time of the development of new drugs that cure illnesses and improve quality of life. This special interest group creates a bridge and network between scientists working in the fields of preclinical research, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and those who are the producers of combinatorial libraries.

Automated Sample Preparation of Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms
Brian Kozlowski  and Khanh Ha , Chairs This SIG was formed to discuss current and future automation platforms used in sample preparation of pharmaceutical dosage forms (tablets, capsules, injectables, blends) for a variety of tests conducted in the industry, including dissolution, composite assay, and content uniformity analysis. A variety of topics will be covered, such as establishing equivalency between automated and non-automated methods, handling equipment bias, equipment validation, automation tools used to support formulation development, risk analysis, QbD principles, real time analytic, stability and release testing, and overall best practices in use of automation. SIG’s goals: achieve a benchmark in industry for use of automated techniques in drug development and garner input from key representatives from automation companies. 

Automation Quality Control
John Thomas Bradshaw and Craig Schulz, Chairs
The Automation Quality Control SIG provides a forum for discussion of topics relating to optimizing performances of laboratory instrumentation. The objective is to encourage development of procedures that should be of interest to instrument vendors and practitioners alike. Specific topics include:

  • Developing best practices for assessing performance of liquid handlers, microplate readers and integrated systems with a view toward making it easier to compare instruments between vendors and to correlate results across platforms.
  • Promoting the sharing of experiences and ideas on data formatting during acquisition and export. Techniques and strategies that ease the task of integrating new instrumentation into automated environments are of special interest.

Compound Combination Screening Special Interest Group
Oliver Leven and Rajarshi Guha, Chairs
The mission of the SLAS Compound Combination Screening SIG is to create a knowledge-sharing forum for screening practitioners active in the field of compound combinations. As such, the goal is to mature the field of compound combination screening, aimed at better science that accelerates the pace of drug discovery.

Drug Repurposing
Roger Bosse and Mathieu Arcand, Chairs
The SIG on Drug Repositioning is a broad-based BSS initiative allowing its members to proactively address the specific challenges pertaining to their respective fields of expertise (technical, operational, legal, etc.) in relation to needs and benefits of repurposing drugs.

HCS/HCA Data and Informatics
Paul Johnston, Chair
The Data Analysis and Management SIG is dedicated to sharing best practices, experiences and expertise, and to encouraging collaboration. The group will actively address issues in the area of information technology and strategies and foster discussions, information sharing and meetings among group members. This SIG is presented in partnership with the Society of Biomolecular Imaging and Informatics (SBI2).

Informatics
Dawei Lin, Chair
The SLAS Informatics SIG is being developed to provide software developers an opportunity to better understand and influence the state of informatics in the laboratory. The focus of this SIG will be on systems architecture from the board to the user interface and thus will include topics such as hardware/software interfaces, data management, metadata management, asynchronous coding and operating systems, networking and "big data issues". We hope to involve developers from academics, industry and the vendor community, and look forward to partnering with other SIGs both inside and outside SLAS.

Labware Leachables
Lynn Rasmussen, Chair
You know what you added to your assay plate, but do you know what the plate added to your assay?

We tend to think of plastics as inert, but they are not. Plastics can bind components from the assay cocktail. This characteristic is exploited for assays like ELISA where the binding of proteins from the solution is required. It can also interfere with the assay if components that need to be in solution bind to the plastic labware. Another phenomena associated with plastic labware is the leaching of chemical entities from the labware into the liquid reagents dispensed to them. Unpolymerized monomers, mold release agents and plasticizers are some of the things that can leach out of the plastic and into your reagents and assays. Higher density plates, with a larger wetted surface area to liquid volume ratio, and new plastics like COC have increased the probability that the labware chemistry could be affecting the assay results.

Phenotypic Drug Discovery
Jonathan Lee, Chair
The phenotypic drug discovery (PDD) SIG will serve as a discussion forum for the global research community to share/discuss/debate topics related to PDD research. Participants will share their experiences, perceptions, and thoughts on the advantages/disadvantages of PDD and whether/how PDD complements targeted drug discovery (TDD) strategies. Related topics such as target identification/validation, chemical diversity, chemical genomics, chemo-informatics, poly-pharmacology, translational pharmacology, biological model systems and patient tailoring are also in scope.

Sample Management
Paul Calvin and Jose Quiroz , Chairs
The Sample Management SIG provides a forum for discussing sample library management issues in the modern drug-discovery high-throughput screening laboratory. Sample libraries include discrete compounds, defined compound mixtures, natural product extracts, and biologics (tissues, cells, DNA, RNA, and antibodies). Topics of critical importance include issues involved in:

  • Sample Collection: Sample acquisition, structural diversity, physical storage, physical manipulation, sample purity and stability.
  • Materials Management: Logistics, information technology, customer support, quality control and systems integration.
  • Instrumentation and Laboratory Automation: Sample preparation, sample retrieval, screening set creation, non-scale technologies, and analytical methodologies.

Screen Design and Assay Technology
Kenda Evans and Jim Beasley, Chairs
The goals of the Screen Design & Assay SIG are to: Share current best practices and experiences in the design of screens for high- and ultra high-throughput screening programs.

  • Provide a platform to encourage an open discussion among group members of any new screening technologies that can be beneficial to the screening community.
  • Encourage academic and industrial members to actively contribute to the SIG.
  • Identify any gaps in reagent(s) and instrumentation and/or in the screening environment, and seek to influence the appropriate supplier(s).
  • Evaluate new technologies and instruments on a voluntary basis and share findings at technology-based user group meetings on a more frequent basis.

Standards Initiatives
Burkhard Schaefer and Dana Vanderwall, Chairs
The Standards Initiatives SIG promotes standardization and interoperability of instruments and data systems in the laboratory. The purpose of our session is to raise awareness of community-driven standardization efforts currently underway. It also provides a forum to foster collaboration between standards initiatives to ensure greater impact and better utilization of community resources.

Stem Cells and 3D Microtissues
Marcie Glicksman and Sitta Sittampalam, Chairs
The mission of the Stem Cells in Drug Discovery SIG is to promote the discussion and dissemination of information on new enabling technologies related to the use of stem cells and primary cells in drug discovery. We will discuss current developments in stem cell biology, human and mouse pluripotent stem cells, and reprogrammed stem cells. This group will function to create a bridge between the network of scientists working in the fields of regenerative medicine, stem cell biology, chemical biology and drug discovery.

Technology Transfer and CRO/CMO Project Management
Liming Shi and Raymond Price, Chairs

As biopharmaceutical companies seek to increase capacity, free up resources, accelerate clinical timelines, and meet business continuity requirements, technology transfer to contract research organizations (CRO) or contract manufacturing organizations (CMO) has increased dramatically. This special interest group (SIG) will provide a platform for industry colleagues to address and discuss the challenges and key factors considered to be important for achieving successful transfer.

Ultra-High-Throughput Screening
Tim Dawes, Chair
Ultra-High Throughput Screening has been defined as the discipline of taking at least 100K data points of assay data of a biochemical or cellular assay using automation in 24 hours. Members of the uHTS SIG will work together to improve the quality of uHTS data, the ease of use of uHTS automation systems and the exchange of the best practices to further the initial stages of drug discovery to ultimately help patients. Our first year activities of the uHTS SIG at the SLAS conference (Feb 4-8) will be to create a forum for operators and managers of uHTS systems to present/discuss innovation, case studies and daily operations to build a community of uHTS researchers and professionals. in addition, a resource for organizations exploring the building of a uHTS system or to upgrade their existing HTS system.

Women Professionals in Science and Technology
Robyn Rourick, Chair
The purpose of this group is to establish a collaborative forum for Women Professionals in Science and Technology to connect and create a diverse network for sharing experiences and tools for development and success.

How to Organize a New SIG

SLAS members interested in organizing a new SIG are invited to complete an SLAS Special Interest Group Charter Application and submit it to the SLAS Board of Directors for consideration and approval. The purpose of the application is to verify that the group has an established core of SLAS members that are interested in its formation and are willing to actively participate. The SIG Charter Application requires:

  • Statement of purpose
  • Justification for formation
  • Detailed plans
  • Proposed activities
  • Chair and co-chairs who will serve as primary representative(s) of the SIG
  • Minimum of 15 signatures from current SLAS members who pledge to participate and support the group's activities

Most SIGs host a meeting during the SLAS Annual Conference and Exhibition. Throughout the rest of the year, they may further agenda items via telephone, e-mail and dedicated forums on LinkedIn. In some cases, limited funding may be provided to support ideas and initiatives. SLAS Manager of Events and Education, Amy McGorry, is the SLAS staff liaison dedicated to assisting SIGs, and she encourages anybody with questions or ideas to contact her. Amy can be reached by e-mail at amcgorry@slas.org or by telephone at 877.990.7527 (or +1.630.256.7527) extension 101.