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).
At the center of today’s many changes, challenges and choices are SLAS members, the principal stakeholders in the unique and united community of professionals who thrive at the intersection of applied and basic life sciences discovery and technology. Relevant, collaborative and future-focused describe SLAS in 2017. To the benefit of more than 18,000 members worldwide, significant strides forward were made to enhance SLAS operations and the Society’s resource-rich menu of programs, products, services and events.
With 25-plus years of drug discovery experience spanning both industry and academia, Cathy Tralau-Stewart could write a book about the meticulous work required for a drug compound to progress through the pipeline. In her role at UCSF’s Catalyst Program, she unites various collaborators to keep breakthrough science in motion.
As I prepare to complete my tenure as SLAS president, a person might ask why anyone would want a part-time job that pays nothing, requires hard work, collaboration with diverse teammates, and the oversight of multiple priorities and deadlines with no direct accountability? Sounds ridiculous, right? Believe me – it’s been just the opposite.
The December 2017 SLAS Discovery Special Issue on Advances in MALDI Mass Spectrometry within Drug Discovery captures examples of diverse and exciting advances that inform us about the expanding range of applications of matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight (MALDI TOF) technology. The issue marks the 30th anniversary of MALDI TOF at a time when “the technology has gained momentum and researchers are recognizing MALDI and applying the technology in innovative ways,” says Co-Guest Editor Michael Scholle of SAMDI Tech (Chicago, IL, USA).
The fundamental determinant of the potential success of a PDD effort is the ability of the screening assay to predict the clinical therapeutic response to a drug with a specific mechanism of action. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 16, 531-543 (2017)
SLAS has started its search for the third recipient of the prestigious SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant. This $100,000 award is disbursed over two years to provide stipend support for promising research being conducted by students in graduate degree programs related to quantitative biosciences and/or life sciences R&D. Dec. 11, 2017, is the due date for 2018 applications and the award will be announced in spring 2018.
For the past 27 years, Marc Abrahams has been presenting the First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Awards ceremony to an audience of more than 1,000 science enthusiasts on the campus of Harvard University. In between these annual “First Annual” events, Abrahams is the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) magazine, shining a spotlight on what may seem improbable, irreverent or absurdly surprising science.
“Chemical Biology, like good taste, is somewhat hard to pin down, but you know it when you see it,” Elizabeth Ostler, Chem Cent J. 2007; 1:5.
It’s been called the second industrial revolution. Whether it’s shaping smarter cities, tracking our 10,000 steps a day or just making sure we never run out of laundry detergent, microcontrollers and the Internet of Things (IoT) are making everyday life….well, if not simpler, at least a bit more effortless. But how is this technology changing life in the lab?
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you already recognize how you and your organization benefit from SLAS, its conferences, scientific journals and other programs. As the SLAS2018 early bird registration deadline grows nearer (Oct. 31) and you prepare to submit your request for participation, here are some thoughts to help you express the potential value of your participation.
Mark Russo, Ph.D., associate director in computational genomics, and Matthew Fronheiser, Ph.D., medical imaging analyst lead, both from Bristol-Myers Squibb, have teamed up to teach a new course entitled 3D Printing for Scientific Applications at SLAS2018. They bring practical knowledge from their experiences with 3D printing and share some of the pitfalls and solutions they have discovered.