Marc Bickle, Ph.D., is fascinated with cell culture and its link to life sciences. He is also obsessed with data quantification. His interests led him from researching worms to yeast to high-content screening and beyond.
Early in his career, Matthew Fronheiser, Ph.D., now a senior biomedical engineer at Bristol-Myers Squibb, worked for a medical device company, developing tools for scientists. "We used pretty images of cells to draw people's attention, but I learned that the image wasn't really what they were looking for," he says. "They wanted quantitative information."
"We all understand how inspiring it is for younger generations to look at cool science images, but there is definitely more to it than that. It also gives us a boost to create and invent. All people get influenced by beauty, even the scientists. That is why I would recommend to once in a while veer off the protocol, try something new, something crazy. It may not work, but if it does, it is your eureka moment. You may be the only man on the planet seeing it and then comes the tingling feeling in your tummy. This is science. The inspiration, discovery and excitement. Just remember to hit "capture" before that moment goes away!"
– Tomasz Koprowski, 2014 JALA & JBS Art of Science Contest winner
Patrick Beattie, 2014 SLAS Innovation Award winner and former director of operations for Diagnostics for All (DFA), recently took the next step on his journey to improve global health when he was named a Skoll Scholar by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. He credits "the incredible work that has been done by the entire DFA team over the past six years" as instrumental to his selection for this honor.
SLAS2015 Conference Co-Chair Elliot Hui, Ph.D., is rarely at rest. He spends his weeks teaching, directing a laboratory of 16 undergraduate and graduate students and even competing in a variety of team sports with his students and fellow faculty members.
Awareness of leachates received a boost in 2008, when Science published a paper showing that bioactive contaminants leaching from plasticware "demonstrate potent effects on enzyme and receptor proteins." Shortly thereafter, an article in the Journal of Biomolecular Screening identified a bioactive substance leaching from automated compound-handling plastic tips. "We need to do more to address this problem," says Lynn Rasmussen, HTS supervisor at Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, AL, and chair of the SLAS Labware Leachables Special Interest Group (SIG).
While still a student, Joshua Kangas, Ph.D., made a life-changing decision. Instead of moving along his planned career path in education, he decided to partner with science and business experts to launch a company that would help enhance the efficiency of drug discovery efforts.
"We are all tasked with finding new drugs that can differentiate our companies and provide real benefit to patients," says John Joslin, research investigator at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), San Diego, CA. "To do so, we need to establish biologically relevant screening assays for our high-throughput screening campaigns. However, increasing the biological relevance leads to more complex biology that requires new methodologies for lead identification and our screening systems must evolve to meet this challenge."
Early on in his scientific training, SLAS member Lorenz Mayr, Ph.D., learned to let the data speak for itself. Be precise about interpretation, but don't over-analyze. Most importantly he learned that it is never OK to be "about right" – you have to be absolutely right before you submit work for publication.
Special issues published by the Journal of Biomolecular Screening (JBS) and the Journal of Laboratory Automation (JALA) represent hallmarks of important achievement by SLAS and its members, especially those whose sweat equity make them such meaningful and memorable successes. Two JALA guest editors share their recent experiences and demonstrate how personal passion fuels the SLAS Spirit of Community.
Recent high school graduate Cynthia Yin is a well-rounded student who has a great mind for science, a gift for music and a mean game of golf. This class valedictorian excels in many areas of life and has a wall of awards to prove it, including an SLAS Tony B. Academic Travel Award. Her greatest accomplishment, however, is seeking opportunity and using it to advance her knowledge.
Compared with trying to discover and develop a novel compound from scratch, repurposing an approved drug saves time and money. It might be for a different indication or to rescue a candidate drug that may have failed in early trials and developing it to treat a different condition. Repurposing also carries less risk to companies and to patients, according to SLAS Drug Repurposing SIG Co-chairs Roger Bosse, Ph.D., senior global product leader for PerkinElmer, Life Sciences & Technology and Mathieu Arcand, Ph.D., co-founder of Biopra.
"Although high-throughput screening has been going on for almost two decades, only now are substantial public datasets emerging and being made available for cross analysis—and they're large enough and well annotated enough to make a difference in our work," says Paul Clemons, Ph.D., director, Computational Chemical Biology Research at the Broad Institute.
Working in a channel that is 60,000 times smaller than a human hair, SLAS member Sumita Pennathur, Ph.D., is doing big work on a nano scale. Can she save the world moving one molecule at a time?
How does one seed a conservative science environment with new technology, particularly one that replaces a tool as basic as the lab coat? By being an active part of the community, listening to the challenges faced by its members and contributing to collaborative efforts.
"I'm passionate about global health, about my own research to develop technologies for use in resource-limited settings, as well as the work that others are doing to improve the lives of people in developing countries," says Peter Lillehoj, Ph.D., of Michigan State University in East Lansing. That passion motivated Lillehoj to serve as guest editor of a 2014 special issue of the Journal of Laboratory Automation (JALA) on New Developments in Global Health Technologies.
A recent Ph.D. has had three interviews in the last month. She shared that she heard back from her second most promising interview at a start-up company: "the people from HR just contacted me. They let me know that they have chosen another person."
Two researchers who are working on projects with implications for different aspects of drug discovery reveal their motivations for using 3D printing in the laboratory. They are inspired not only by the challenge of doing innovative science, but also by the opportunity to make their work accessible to scientists around the world.
SLAS members Anne Marie Quinn and Thomas Hughes carved a place for their company, Montana Molecular, far from the biotech hubs that launched their careers. The company put down roots on Quinn's vision that the tools of science drive progress and the scientists who adopt those tools early have a professional advantage.
One small step: entering a poster contest. One giant leap: exposure to thousands of new contacts to advance research and accelerate careers.