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Come Transform Research: The 2013 SLAS Annual Report

By SLAS CEO Gregory F. Dummer, CAE

2013 was another year of momentum and milestones for SLAS. Our successes were many. Our disappointments were few. As our global horizons expanded, we flexed to fit the priorities of our members. So it is with high energy and great expectations that we beckon laboratory science and technology professionals everywhere to: Come Transform Research!

 

 

A Collaborative Community: Poised for Global Growth in Life Sciences R&D

We live in a world of constant change, and often, SLAS and its members are the change makers. In 2013, evidence of this leadership emerged through an updated SLAS Strategic Plan that features a progressive new model for regional volunteer leadership.

The SLAS Strategic Plan is thoughtfully reconsidered every three years to ensure the functional and strategic alignment of the Society and its programs, products, services and events. The newly refreshed plan was developed by the SLAS Strategic Planning Advisory Committee to help guide the Society in 2014, 2015 and 2016. It succinctly defines our purpose, our community and the ways through which we believe we can best serve and sustain both as we expand our global footprint. Part of the Strategic Plan was a validation of audiences served by SLAS. Concisely, our community can be illustrated as follows:

One way of ensuring that SLAS achieves the global initiatives outlined in the SLAS Strategic Plan is by regionalizing its volunteer leadership structure. The first step in this important new journey was initiated in fall 2013 when inaugural members were appointed by the SLAS Board of Directors to create the SLAS Europe Council and the SLAS Asia Council.

Led by locally-based professionals, these SLAS Councils (plus an SLAS Americas Council to be named in spring 2014) will facilitate regional planning and decision-making to ensure SLAS is as relevant as possible to professionals in these distinct regions. The three SLAS Councils will be overseen by one executive board of directors and, collectively, these leadership groups will be responsible for delivering meaningful value across the entire spectrum of the SLAS scientific community.

Each SLAS Council comprises seven representatives from throughout its region. Initially, representatives were appointed for one- to three-year terms of service. The board appointment process and the staggered terms are for initial organizational purposes only. As inaugural members complete their appointed terms, new representatives will be elected by members of their respective regions for full three-year terms.

As an adjunct to the SLAS Asia Council, the Society was proud to announce the formation of a new SLAS Asia Honorary Advisory Board in 2013. These esteemed dignitaries have aligned themselves with our Society and its initiatives and are making themselves available to advise SLAS leadership with high-level strategic vision, exceptionally informed perspective and outstanding global connectivity. The advice and counsel of the SLAS Asia Honorary Advisory Board ensures SLAS will move successfully forward across meaningful new horizons to fulfill its educational mission in Asia.

To extend hard-wired access and support for the new SLAS Europe Council as well as to SLAS members throughout Europe, SLAS opened the doors of its third international service center this past August. Joining the SLAS Global Headquarters in St. Charles (Chicago-area), USA, and the SLAS Asia Office in Shanghai, China, a new professional team went to work in Brussels, Belgium, in summer 2013.

By strengthening its global network of strategic advisors, regional leadership, hands-on volunteer leaders and professional staff, SLAS is working hard to guarantee that members everywhere have an active voice in the Society and benefit from a consistent membership experience. SLAS member voices also will influence future plans and initiatives through the results of the recently completed 2013 SLAS Membership Survey.

 

Informed planning by committed volunteer leaders has been the cornerstone of SLAS. At all levels, from the SLAS Board of Directors to ad hoc committees, it's the voice of the members that drives decision-making. After being carefully vetted by the SLAS Nominations Committee and presented to the SLAS membership, members of the SLAS Board of Directors, in particular, invest significant amounts of their personal time and energy into thoughtfully guiding our Society's progress and direction.

Each member of the SLAS Board of Directors serves a three-year term of service; those completing their tenure in 2013 are:

 

Past President David Dorsett
Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ (USA)

 

President Jeff Paslay
Paslay Consulting Group, Kirkland, WA (USA)

 

Director Mary Jo Wildey
Merck Research Labs, Kenilworth, NJ (USA)

 

Stepping in for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are three new members:

Alastair Binnie
Vice President, Research Informatics & Automation
Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ (USA)

 

Richard Eglen
Vice President and General Manager
Corning Life Sciences, Tewksbury, MA (USA)

 

Mike Snowden
Vice President and Head of Discovery Sciences
AstraZeneca, Cheshire (UK)

 

SLAS members everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to these selfless volunteers. Our Society has been (and continues to be) very well served because of their hard work and thoughtful contributions. They listen carefully to what SLAS members say they need and want, and they apply their experience, expertise and insight to make those things happen. The result = a relevant scientific society that truly is shaped by members as a springboard to success for members.

 

At the end of 2013, the SLAS membership network comprises 18,500 individual stakeholders from 101 different countries.

Strategic Alliances Build Beneficial Bridges

To complement the breadth of its own menu of programs, products, services and events, SLAS is strategically connected to other related scientific societies. By joining forces, SLAS and its partners move forward together toward shared goals, increasing access to education, subject matter experts and other knowledge- and career-building opportunities for the SLAS members of today and tomorrow.

In 2013, MipTec (Basel, Switzerland) and ELRIG Drug Discovery (Manchester, England, UK) brought SLAS scientific presentations to the doorsteps of members in Europe, and celebrated the achievements of young scientists in Europe by rewarding them with accolades and expense-paid trips to SLAS2014. Joining the two SLAS Young Scientists from Europe was the student poster contest winner from the Institute for Food Technologies in the USA. All attendees, including students, were offered a menu of career-building opportunities through an SLAS Career Connections partnership with the American Chemical Society.

SLAS has always championed students who participate in F.I.R.S.T. team competitions. In addition to hosting F.I.R.S.T. demonstration areas at SLAS Annual Conferences and Exhibitions, SLAS launched a F.I.R.S.T. Team Grants program in 2013, offering $500 grants to help individual teams cover the costs of competition. SLAS financial support of educational initiatives in 2013 also extended to the Midwest Universities Analytical Chemistry Conference at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The SLAS Annual Conference also attracts opportunities for strategic synergies. SLAS2013 featured a Satellite Symposium at the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute; and special presentations by the Laboratory Products Association (LPA), International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) and the Laboratory Robotics Interest Group (LRIG). At SLAS2014, we look forward to continuing the tradition of Satellite Symposia with the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation along with new presentations by LPA, ISBER, LRIG and the Analytical, Life Science and Diagnostics Association (ALDA).

Photo courtesy of Dean Ho.Also in 2013, the SLAS Endowment Fund continued its support of the novel cancer research being conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry. Outstanding progress was made by this team and reported by more than 50 media outlets, including MSN News, Huffington Post Canada, Fierce Drug Delivery, Daily Mail and Yahoo. Three major papers were published on the use of nanodiamonds for brain cancer therapy, leukemia treatment and enhanced bone growth for regenerative medicine applications. All three gratefully acknowledge the SLAS Endowed Fellowship.

SLAS also works cooperatively with other organizations to extend its reach into international scientific communities. In 2013, SLAS shared discounts and benefits with the Chinese Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Fifth Spanish Drug Discovery Network Meeting at the University of Valencia in Spain; 5th EU-OPENSCREEN Project Meeting in Oslo, Norway; 15th International Conference of Biomedical Engineering in Singapore; and the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine International Conference on Pharmacology and Drug Development.

 

The SLAS Annual Conference and Exhibition

SLAS welcomed nearly 3,800 participants from 44 countries to SLAS2013, the Second Annual SLAS Conference and Exhibition, at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, FL (USA), Jan. 12-16, 2013. With its primary focus squarely on education, SLAS2013 delivered 132 world-class scientific podium presentations organized within seven topical tracks, three thought-provoking keynote speakers (Mehmet Toner, Sir Harold Kroto, Charles Sabine), 20 one- and two-day short courses, 393 poster presentations and 57 industry-sponsored tutorials and workshops. Four presentations are still available on-demand at SLAS.org.

The SLAS2013 Exhibition featured new technology, products and services (including 66 new product launches) from 310 different regional, national and multinational companies. The Exhibition also showcased the SLAS Innovation AveNEW exhibitors, seven entrepreneurial start-up companies that applied and competed with others to earn complimentary exhibit space, travel and more.

2013 SLAS Innovation Award honors and the $10,000 cash prize were earned by Andrea Weston, Ph.D., of Bristol-Myers Squibb for her presentation, "Making a Quantum Leap in Mass Spectrometry Throughput: Applying the NextVal MassInsight Technology to Monitor Cytochrome P450 Enzyme Inhibition in Human Liver Microsomes." Dr. Weston generously contributed her prize to the SLAS Endowment Fund.

Forty-five students from 12 countries earned passage to SLAS2013 through the SLAS Tony B. Academic Travel Awards program. In addition, three SLAS Young Scientist Award delegates earned attendance after winning top honors at MipTec, ELRIG and the Institute of Food Technologists 2012 conferences.

During SLAS2013, SLAS announced that beginning with SLAS2014, it will rotate the SLAS Annual Conference and Exhibition between the east and west coasts of the United States. After comprehensive consideration and negotiation with many different locations and venues, San Diego, CA was named as the stage for SLAS2014, SLAS2016 and SLAS2018; while Washington, DC will serve as home to SLAS2015, SLAS2017 and SLAS2019.

These two popular cities make sense for the Society and conference participants alike. Both are serviced by more than one major international airport and both offer Amtrak rail options. Both will welcome SLAS into beautiful, centrally-located convention centers and hotels that are competitively priced and well within walking distance of each other as well as scores of restaurants, museums, historical attractions, shops and nightclubs. An abundance of taxis will make getting around easy, and mild winter climates will make getting around comfortable.

As SLAS prepares to host 5,500 participants in San Diego for SLAS2014, Jan. 18-22, it does so with expectations of continuing the positive momentum and upward trajectory of SLAS2012 and SLAS2013. This year, a new, custom-built mobile app will assist participants in navigating through the agenda and planning their personal schedules. For members not able to join us in California, at least two major presentations will stream live at SLAS2014.org, including the opening keynote by Dr. Eric J. Topol of the Scripps Institute.

SLAS Asia Conference and Exhibition

On the other side of the globe, SLAS welcomed 484 participants to the Third Annual SLAS Asia Conference and Exhibition, June 5-7, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Shanghai, China. Themed "Drug Discovery Science and Laboratory Technology," the event presented 29 scientific sessions, including one by 2013 SLAS Innovation Award Winner Andrea Weston; keynote presentations by Chad Mirkin, Yinxiang Wang and Jonathan Connick; three short courses; and new technology, product and service exhibits by 40 multinational companies.

SLAS Virtual Events

At SLAS.org, a series of three SLAS Webinars presented originally in spring addressed scientific topics related to Effectively Managing Collaborative Science; and in fall, another three tackled Phenotypic Drug Discovery issues (sponsored by Cellular Dynamics International). All six webinars were highly rated by participants and remain available for free, on-demand viewing by dues-paying SLAS members.

SLAS Special Interest Groups

SLAS members gathered in person at SLAS2013 and continued discussions in the ether throughout the year via SLAS Special Interest Groups (SIGs) on LinkedIn. The SLAS Phenotypic Drug Discovery SIG was particularly active, counting nearly 1,000 members by year-end and overseeing a special issue of the Journal of Biomolecular Screening on the topic. All SLAS SIGs are informal, grassroots communities of members who want fast access to an ongoing exchange of ideas and information about specific scientific and/or technical topics.

 

It could be said that the SLAS scientific journals service the SLAS mission more profoundly than any other SLAS program, product, service or event in both the short and long terms. For 18 years, the Journal of Biomolecular Screening (JBS) and the Journal of Laboratory Automation (JALA) have published breakthroughs in laboratory science and technology, formally documenting SLAS member (and nonmember) achievements that now reside in perpetuity throughout the scientific literature.

JALA and JBS started 2013 by unveiling all-new graphic identities. Their sleek logos and striking cover designs reflect their relationship to each other and to SLAS. Throughout the year, JALA and JBS published the peer-reviewed work of about 1,000 authors and co-authors. These manuscripts were accessed at JALA Online and JBS Online more than 1.5 million times by life sciences R&D professionals from 166 different countries.

Like all SLAS initiatives, JALA and JBS are fueled by diligent volunteers who share their expertise as editorial board members, authors and reviewers. At SLAS2013, JALA and JBS honored achievements by individual authors and reviewers, and celebrated the winners of the annual JALA & JBS Art of Science Contest.

Indexed by MEDLINE and more than 25 other international abstract indexing resources, JALA and JBS both experienced increases in their impact factors in 2013. JBS scored an impact factor of 2.207 and was ranked 32 out of 75 in the Analytical Chemistry category; 72 out of 159 in the Biotechnology and Applied Microbiology category; and 42 out of 75 in the Biochemical Research Methods category. JALA scored an impact factor of 1.457 and was ranked 49 out of 75 in the Analytical Chemistry category; and 58 out of 75 in the Biochemical Research Methods category.

 

SLAS.org put on a fresh new face in 2013 with a redesign that featured a new creative identity and streamlined approach to navigation allowing visitors to more easily identify and access the breadth of resources available on and through the site. At a glance, even first time visitors can easily recognize the energy and high-standards that have come to reflect SLAS, its mission and its members.

The clean and contemporary design aesthetic of the new SLAS.org improves readability, while enhanced graphics make navigating the site faster and easier with fewer clicks. Built to last on an adaptable platform that will accommodate future functionality, modules and best practices for websites, SLAS.org embraces the new mobility of SLAS members, guaranteeing functionality and consistent user experiences whether accessed via a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

SLAS.org remains the online portal to all things SLAS. By visiting the site regularly, members can:

SLAS's commitment to keeping itself well-wired with the best technologies runs behind the scenes in the back office as well. A new server and significant database upgrades are scheduled for early 2014 to improve Society data management functionality, member servicing and overall responsiveness in the digital world.

Responsible Stewardship

With respect to transparent governance, the following report provides an overview of the Society's financial performance for fiscal year 2012-2013. This past year, SLAS made significant investments in technology, Asia and Europe to solidify its platform for global growth. Simultaneously, attention to detail and cost control enabled SLAS to respectfully manage projected expenses. Revenue was enhanced by the success of SLAS2013 and the positive performance of global financial markets. SLAS continues to stand on sound financial footing, poised to achieve short-term goals and long-term stability.

 

 

 

December 23, 2013