Using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to uncover the mysteries of circulating tumor DNA in the bloodstream, an innovative Ph.D. candidate from Johns Hopkins University encourages others to bravely tackle research problems outside their areas of expertise. “You can apply what you know already to answer questions in life sciences.”
By Sabeth Verpoorte, Ph.D.
Earlier this year, I expressed my appreciation of the many SLAS volunteers and the countless hours committed to this Society. As I move deeper into my presidency, it becomes clearer to me that SLAS would not exist without volunteer dedication to the Society. Our volunteers are SLAS!
Daniel Irimia, M.D., Ph.D., is an engineer at heart. However, he took a slight detour en route to his current role as associate professor and deputy director of the BioMEMS Resource Center at the Center for Engineering in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA) after first training as a medical doctor in his native Romania. Now combining an engineer’s mind with a physician’s knowledge, he and his colleagues have designed a large-scale microparticle-cluster array to replicate human neutrophil swarming outside the body, which allows the study of signaling pathways and mediators during swarming.
“When biostatisticians and biomedical scientists work together – early and often – the end result is more satisfying science,” says Paul Kayne, head of Genomics (Discovery), Bristol-Myers Squibb (Princeton, NJ). And, by satisfying science, Kayne and Robert Nadon, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Human Genetics at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), mean productive and verifiable science that translates effectively to clinical applications.
“DELT [DNA-Encoded Library Technology] provides an economical and feasible means to make progress toward the exploration of larger chemical spaces. Instead of a focusing on one to two million compounds in a typical high-throughput screen (HTS), a DELT library may present some hundred million compounds for selection by a biological target of interest. The concepts of drug-likeness, chemical diversity and compound collection are still important, but the efficiency of the DELT process shifts the balance of opportunity costs in a unique manner relative to the traditional HTS compound collection and process.” – Robert Goodnow, Ph.D., SLAS Discovery Guest Editor
“Biological processes are dynamic; they require dynamic measurements to understand them,” says Yehuda Brody, Ph.D. Brody, a third-year post-doctoral associate in the Blainey Lab at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (Cambridge, MA) who has been visually measuring single cell gene expression kinetics for several years. Now, focusing on mutagenesis process kinetics, he and his colleagues have developed a new method for DNA sequencing that allow them to analyze the flow of mutation accumulation with single cell cycle resolution. Paul Blainey, Ph.D., presented this innovative approach at SLAS2018.
Researcher Mathias Uhlén, Ph.D., opens the human proteome for all researchers to explore. He then leads the journey into what makes us healthy, how disease starts, when the aging process begins and how to apply that knowledge to life sciences discovery and technology to improve the human condition.
By Sabeth Verpoorte, Ph.D.
Less than two months away, the 2018 SLAS Europe Conference and Exhibition promises to deliver! We’ve incorporated all we have learned about quality education and networking from the annual SLAS International Conference and Exhibition and added flavor of the region to offer this inaugural event June 27-29 at the spectacular Square Brussels Meeting Centre in Brussels, Belgium.
Paul Hung, Ph.D., started out as an electrical engineer, but halfway through his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), he switched to bioengineering. “I was fascinated by how many unsolved problems and unlimited possibilities there were in biology and hoped that my engineering expertise could help,” Hung recalls. As a serial entrepreneur, and now the CEO of COMBiNATi, Hung saw “huge potential in field of genomics” and earned the 2018 SLAS Innovation Award for his presentation, “Microfluidic Siphoning Array: A Novel Scalable Digital PCR Integrated Platform.”
Attention current and prospective SLAS journal authors (which should be everybody reading this!): More than ever before, SLAS Discovery (Advancing Life Sciences R&D) and SLAS Technology (Translating Life Sciences Innovation) help authors by making the submission process faster and easier, boosting the global discoverability of published articles and enhancing recognition for authors and reviewers.
Chosen from a broad pool of innovative research, Xiao Wang, Ph.D., Sri Teja Mullapudi, M.Tech., and John Hickey, B.Sc., took top honors out of 50 undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students who participated in the SLAS2018 Student Poster Competition. The winners also seized opportunities to expand the audience for their research at this intersection of life sciences discovery and technology.
By Sabeth Verpoorte, Ph.D.
SLAS takes seriously its mission to bring together researchers in academia, industry and government to advance life sciences discovery and technology via education, knowledge exchange and global community building. That’s a tall order, as it means that we need to continue to grow and change as a Society to be true to our mission. The SLAS governance structure must enable greater interaction and synergy between the SLAS Board of Directors and SLAS volunteer committees, and between committees themselves.
Hugo Sinha, a master’s student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, is hoping to make automated CRISPR technology accessible to as many cancer researchers as possible. His vision is to “empower all cancer biologists to be able to program their gene editing experiments on their own benchtop instruments.” As one of the youngest presenters at SLAS2018 and an SLAS2018 Tony B. Academic Travel Award winner, Sinha presented his work in a podium presentation “Automating Gene Editing for Deciphering Cancer Pathways Using Microfluidics.”
She likes to solve complex research puzzles–those that require matching intellects, instruments and vast laboratory spaces spread across an entire country. She enjoys challenges that involve research reproducibility and those that introduce cutting edge technology. “This is the aspect of science I embrace–the challenges make research more intriguing.”
“We are pleased to recognize the innovators behind the 2018 SLAS Technology Ten,” says Edward Kai-Hua Chow, SLAS Technology editor-in-chief (National University of Singapore). “These hard-working individuals from Australia, China, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United States had breakthroughs in micro-, nano- and digital technologies to improve drug delivery and therapy against a wide range of diseases, from wound healing to cancer. They report great advances in microfluidics, diagnostics, microtechnology, life sciences and biomedical assays and other technologies that are changing the way drugs are developed and evaluated to improve both efficacy and safety.”
By Sabeth Verpoorte, Ph.D.
What a great time to become SLAS president! I was announced as the new president on Monday at SLAS2018, and on Wednesday, we announced record-smashing SLAS2018 attendance of more than 6,600 participants from 40 countries at the San Diego Convention Center, February 3-7. Kudos to Program Co-Chairs Michelle Arkin and Tim Spicer and their planning committees, and to the life sciences discovery and technology experts who shared their knowledge throughout the conference!
Congratulations to FORMULATRIX (Bedford, MA), iotaSciences (Oxford, U.K.) and Labcyte (San Jose, CA) for taking home honors in the SLAS New Product Award Competition at SLAS2018. Advancements in digital PCR, single-cell and acoustic liquid handling provide new tools to elevate life sciences discovery and technology.
Passion and persistence exemplify the three new leaders joining the SLAS Board of Directors in 2018. Emilio Diez Monedero, Peter Simpson and Severine Tamas-Lhoustau share a base in Europe and an overwhelming desire to share their talents and experience for the good of the Society during their three-year terms on the Board. They join six current members tasked with shaping an organization devoted to professionals who thrive at the intersection of applied and basic life sciences discovery and technology.
If you’re a student or early career professional in the life sciences, chances are you have focused on earning an education and building your technical expertise in the lab. You may not have had an opportunity to think about the soft skills – communication, teamwork and leadership, to name a few – that demonstrate intangible abilities in a tangible way. The experts explain how these skills factor into who gets the job, leads the team, makes the presentation and secures that important promotion.
“Biologics make up an estimated 25 to 30 percent of therapeutic agents on the market today. This demand for therapeutic biologics has exceeded what can be provided by traditional manual laboratory methods and has opened the door for the development of automation and miniaturization to accelerate the discovery process and offer new therapeutic opportunities,” says Daniel Sipes, M.S., director of automation at Genomics Institute, Novartis Research Foundation, (San Diego, CA).