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SLAS Grant Program Offers Dollars and Support

By Sabeth Verpoorte, Ph.D.

SLAS is a professional society deeply rooted in sharing ideas and information. From its beginning, the SLAS leadership has believed this also means providing for the next generation of leaders. That’s why SLAS continues to generously support programs such as the SLAS Tony B. Academic Travel Award and SLAS Student Poster Competition.

And, that’s why we launched the SLAS Grant Program in 2015 by opening applications for the SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Program to reward outstanding students pursuing graduate degrees related to quantitative biosciences and/or life sciences R&D. To date, three young researchers have been awarded $100,000 over two years to pursue their research.






2016: Erik M. Werner, B.E., University of California Irvine

2017: Julea Vlassakis, B.A., University of California Berkeley

2018: Santosh Paidi, B. Tech., Johns Hopkins University

2019: It could be you! Apply by December 10, 2018

The next phase of the SLAS Grant Program began this year – the  SLAS Visiting Graduate Researcher Program. Visiting Graduate Researchers are North American or European degree-seeking graduate students at their home institution who are invited to conduct short-term doctoral research or participate in a mentored or independent research project with a faculty member at a different host institution.  The SLAS Visiting Graduate Researcher Grant Program offers a stipend to cover the graduate student’s expenses for a visiting research stay of 4 weeks to a maximum of 6 months.  The visiting researcher must conduct research consisting of regularly structured activities each week, not involving entry-level work or duplication of any previous experience. 

2018: Kelci Schilly, B.Sc., University of Kansas (KU)

2019: It could be you! Apply by December 10, 2018

I am particularly excited about this program, as Kelci Schilly is currently working for three months in my lab at the University of Groningen to learn more about 3D printing and how it could be applied to the design of easy-to-use components for the analysis of blood samples. She is conducting her Ph.D. research with Prof. Susan Lunte, based at the University of Kansas. Sue is an analytical chemist specializing in problems related to the pharmaceutical sciences. One area her group is now particularly focused on is the development of analytical methods to probe conditions of cellular nitrosative stress in the context of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The ultimate goal of Kelci’s work is to develop a mass spectrometric detection method for the determination of the extent of mitochondrial protein nitration in the blood of Alzheimer’s patients, as this has been shown in preliminary studies toindicate the severity of the disease.

Kelci has discovered stereolithography 3D printing in my lab, and is now developing a small component for extracting a particular peptide implicated in Alzheimer's disease obtained from mitochondrial proteins isolated from Alzheimer’s patient blood samples. She is sharing an office with another Ph.D. student and postdoc, and has found her way around very quickly. She has also made very rapid progress in the past few weeks, and hopes to have a functioning component with which she can proceed in her quest to set up an analysis for patient samples. Kelci has fit in well with us, and we have enjoyed hosting her! She also has taken advantage of her weekends to do some sightseeing both in the Netherlands and outside in neighboring countries. All in all, I think this visit is working out well - thanks, SLAS! Sue and I have collaborated in the past, and so this visit gives us some impetus to explore new avenues for scientific exchange as well. A win-win situation for both host and guest!

These programs provide much-needed financial assistance to those early in their career and, perhaps more importantly, they grant stellar young scientists access to colleagues who have already navigated some of the early hurdles in the field. Time and again, we see the results as these go-getters make great strides in their careers.

We also see them encouraging younger students and getting involved more fully with SLAS. Werner and Vlassakis, for example, held several formal sessions with students attending SLAS2018 and, no doubt, many informal as well. Werner also is in his second year teaching the SLAS2019 Short Course, “Microcontrollers, the IoT and our Laboratories.”

I am proud to be a part of a society that sees value in nurturing all scientists to be the best that they can be. SLAS support of young scientists in particular is second to none in my experience! Take a look at the information on both the SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Program and SLAS Visiting Graduate Researcher Program to see which might meet your needs or that of a graduate student you know. Contact Mary Geismann if you have any questions.




October 29, 2018