By SLAS CEO Gregory F. Dummer, CAE
SLAS began 2014 by mobilizing ambitious plans for a regionalized leadership structure to foster thoughtful global growth. By the close of 2014, three regional Councils were actively engaged in successfully customizing SLAS's reach and impact in the Americas, Europe and Asia, making it more convenient for life sciences R&D professionals everywhere to Come Transform Research!
Regionalized planning, leadership responsiveness and accessibility to high-quality member service are the goals of the three new SLAS Councils that mobilized in 2014. Council leaders were initially appointed by the SLAS Board of Directors to staggered terms of one, two and three years. Upon completion of these terms, members in each region will vote to elect new Council representatives who will serve three year terms. The first of these elections was held successfully in Europe in November.
Propelled and guided by the SLAS Strategic Plan, SLAS Councils focus on regional member priorities and build alliances to deliver insightful education and targeted networking opportunities. In Asia, the focus is primarily on China for now. In Europe, initial priorities include the Basel, Switzerland area; Oresund area of Denmark and Sweden; and the countries of Germany, Spain and the UK.
The synergy between the SLAS Americas Council, SLAS Asia Council, SLAS Europe Council and SLAS Board of Directors nurtures thoughtful global growth by creating a leadership and membership infrastructure that ensures global synergy, integration and coordination. Together these SLAS leadership entities strengthen the Society's influential position in the scientific community and deliver increased value to individual SLAS members everywhere.
As SLAS Councils assumed hands-on responsibility for the programs, products, services and events in their regions, the SLAS Board of Directors shifted its focus to strategy, vision and business development; analysis and approval of the annual budget and major expenditures; establishment of broad-based bylaws and policies; maximization of the Society's value to members and stakeholders; and general corporate oversight. Members of the SLAS Board of Directors serve three-year terms of service, and those who completed their tenure in 2014 were:
Daniel G. Sipes, M.S., Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, President
Robyn Rourick, M.S., Genentech, Treasurer
Frank Fan, Ph.D., Promega, Director
Joining the SLAS Board of Directors for 2015, 2016 and 2017 are:
Scott Atkin, B.S., SAGIAN Ventures
Michele Cleary, Ph.D., Merck
Sue Lunte, Ph.D., University of Kansas
The SLAS members who voluntarily contribute their time, energy and expertise to the SLAS Board, Councils and Committees total nearly 100 every year. When those who author journal manuscripts and those who review them are added-in, the total climbs to nearly 1,500 hands on deck. It's the insightful leadership and frontline experience of these real-world representatives that shape SLAS into a relevant scientific society and create a unique nexus of diverse interests.
SLAS delivers an abundance of relevant, peer-vetted scientific education for its members, and like other professional societies, provides important venues for professionals, emerging and accomplished, to access resources, become known to others, network with peers and form a mutually beneficial community of collaboration. Members of professional societies are more successful, on average, than non-members. According to a survey by the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago, members of professional societies earn more, like their jobs better and are even happier people.
At the end of 2014, the SLAS membership network comprised 22,199 individual stakeholders from 104 different countries. These scientists, technology providers, researchers, academics and students, engineers, informatics specialists, and business leaders work primarily in life sciences R&D, drug discovery and related fields. SLAS's greatest strengths are rooted in the diversity of these members and their collaborative spirits. Meet a sampling of SLAS members and hear what they have to say about how SLAS has served as a springboard to their success.
SLAS.org serves as a 360° gateway to information and inspiration, making many SLAS assets available to members everywhere around-the-clock. Like national treasures, the deepening archives of the Journal of Biomolecular Screening, Journal of Laboratory Automation, SLAS LabAutopedia wiki, SLAS Electronic Laboratory Neighborhood e-zine and the SLAS On-Demand Webinars combine to create the most comprehensive foundation of laboratory science and technology education, information and ideas available. These rich resources expand on an almost daily basis, are accessible from anywhere at any time, and are continuously being reviewed and re-evaluated to improve value to members. In 2014...
The SLAS eLearning Advisory Committee re-engineered its approach to SLAS Webinars, shifting from a series model of three related presentations to individual, single topic-focused presentations. The change was well received and live audience levels increased while the catalog of SLAS Webinars On-Demand grew to nearly 40.
An SLAS Journals Strategic Review Committee was formed to work in direct service to the SLAS Strategic Plan by researching and responding to the evolving landscape of scientific publishing. A strategic review of the role, reach and impact of SLAS's two rigorously peer-reviewed, MEDLINE-indexed journals was conducted to ensure alignment with the SLAS mission; shape realistic expectations; identify ways to measure and ensure future growth and success; and provide strategic direction for journal volunteers and staff throughout 2014, 2015 and 2016.
SLAS.org also is home to practical tools that can benefit the personal growth and success of individual members who take advantage of them. These initiatives, too, are regularly revisited to improve service and value to members. In 2014...
The engine behind the SLAS Career Connections program was reconfigured to more accurately reflect the interests and priorities of individuals searching for new employment opportunities and employers searching for new talent. The SLAS Career Connections online resources and in-person consultations, coaching and workshops at the SLAS Annual Conference and Exhibition make the program one of the most comprehensive, totally automated and interactive employment programs exclusively tailored to the field of laboratory science and technology.
Growth in the Grassroots: Social media skyrocketed in 2014 as friends, fans and followers of SLAS on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube topped 15,800 by year-end. Important growth also occurred among the SLAS Special Interest Groups when a new collective formed to explore current trends in Automated Sample Preparation of Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms. News and personal perspective from many of the people fueling these initiatives is showcased in the SLAS Electronic Laboratory Neighborhood e-zine, whose archive of member-focused/member-sourced feature stories now totals more than 115.
The SLAS Member Directories became considerably more robust and user friendly after a new server was installed and a major software upgrade was completed within the SLAS database infrastructure. This investment in continuous quality improvement also improved personal profile and preferences settings, and enabled the presentation of Members Only pages in a responsive design for seamless access regardless of whether a member uses a laptop, tablet or smartphone device.
SLAS's already strong commitment to attracting young talent to careers in drug discovery science and technology received a significant boost in 2014 when financial support for the SLAS Tony B. Academic Travel Awards program more than doubled to a total of $140,000. Along with this came ensured regional representation by engaging the three SLAS Councils in the decision-making process. 55 students (the most ever!) and early career professionals from 12 countries were invited to participate in SLAS2015 in Washington, D.C., Feb. 7-11, 2015, and were provided with roundtrip travel, hotel accommodations and full conference registrations. The awards were based on the scientific merit of the applicant's podium and/or poster abstract submissions.
Also in the spirit of advancing the next generation of scientific leadership, a new SLAS Advisory Committee for Student and Early Career Professionals was formed to guide the development of meaningful year-round programming for this important segment of our scientific community. In addition, the SLAS Endowment Fund continued its commitment in 2014 to the Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology, Division of Oral Biology and Medicine, at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry. The UCLA team achieved an important breakthrough that was heralded in scientific and mainstream media – they unveiled a nanodiamond-embedded contact lens capable of releasing glaucoma-fighting drugs when in contact with tears. SLAS was acknowledged for its contribution to this innovative advancement in medicine, which made headlines in ACS Nano, Chemical and Engineering News, Yahoo! News, and Fierce Drug Delivery.
Preceding all of these accomplishments, SLAS began 2014 with an exceptional international conference and exhibition, featuring exceptional attendance – SLAS2014, Jan. 18-22 in San Diego. It's at this annual flagship where SLAS truly comes to life. 5,819 practicing life sciences R&D professionals traveled from 46 countries to actively participate in this one-of-a-kind, high-energy event that featured 132 world-class scientific podium presentations organized within seven topical tracks, two thought-provoking keynote presentations (Dr. Eric Topol and Radiolab co-hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich), 17 one- and two-day short courses, 376 poster presentations and 57 exhibitor-sponsored tutorials.
The SLAS2014 exhibition made it easy for participants to experience new technology, equipment, products and services from 306 different regional, national and multinational companies. The exhibition also showcased eight promising entrepreneurial start-up companies who competed to earn complimentary travel and exhibit space on SLAS Innovation AveNEW.
In between, social events and professional development programs allowed participants to build intelligent networks and new friendships. Special presentations, sponsorships and SLAS Young Scientist Award delegates were provided by strategically allied organizations including the American Chemical Society; Analytical, Life Science and Diagnostics Association; Association for Molecular Pathology; F.I.R.S.T.; Genomics Institute for the Novartis Research Foundation; International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories; Laboratory Products Association; Laboratory Robotics Interest Groups; and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.
To keep track of the many events and opportunities available at SLAS2014, a new conference app made its debut and received high praise from attendees. When all was said and done, the busy week's top honors went to:
2014 SLAS Innovation Award
Patrick Beattie of Diagnostics For All for Paper-Based Sensors for Low-Cost Diagnostics
2014 SLAS New Product Award (NPA) Designations
Coastal Genomics for Ranger Technology
Dynamic Biosensors for switchSENSE Analyzer DRX 2400
Planet Innovation for Gavi
SLAS2014 Student Poster Competition
Garrett Mosley of the University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Bioengineering for Layer-by-Layer Chitosan-Alginate Coating of Polymeric Nanoparticles for Colon Specific Drug Discovery
Tim Ruckh of Northeastern University for Ultra-Small and Ratiometric Nanosensors for Dynamic Potassium Imaging
Kris Wilson of University of Edinburgh for A Novel High-Throughput Drug Screening Technique Targeting Human Kynurenine 3-Monooxygenase
Elsewhere around the globe, the SLAS Councils actively partnered with allied organizations in their regions to deliver SLAS's unique brand of scientific and technical education. In China, successful seminar programs were held in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai in collaboration with the Institute of Microbiology, National Center for Screening New Microbial Drugs and the Institute of Medicinal Biotechnology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the National Drug Screening Center of the China Pharmaceutical University; and the Shanghai Institute for Advanced Immunochemical Studies (SIAIS) of ShanghaiTech University. Through the collaboration with ShanghaiTech University, the first-ever SLAS Asia Young Scientist Award was presented to Kyangmoo Yea for his poster presentation entitled "An Adiponectin Receptor Agonist Antibody Induces CD34+ Bone Marrow Cells to Differentiate into Brown Fat."
Likewise, SLAS Europe joined forces with the European Laboratory Robotics Interest Group in the UK, Swiss Biotech Association and the Spanish Drug Discovery Network to present short courses and an author workshop to scientific professionals at those related events.
As 2014 drew to a close, momentum and excitement were building for SLAS's debut in Washington, DC, with SLAS2015. Podium and poster abstract submissions were high, space on the exhibit floor was filled to capacity and registrations were arriving at a brisk pace – all reinforcing the wisdom behind SLAS's plan to rotate its flagship conference and exhibition between San Diego and DC.
SLAS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization whose mission is squarely focused on education. Its stakeholders are its members who pay dues; participate; and contribute to its many different programs, products, services and events. On their behalf, SLAS is committed to carefully and conservatively managing its budget to ensure organizational stability, operational excellence, and smart investments in growth and development to benefit members as well as the organization.
This past year, SLAS continued forward with its global vision and made significant expenditures in technology, and the Asia and Europe regions. Simultaneously, attention to detail and careful expense controls enabled SLAS to diligently manage projected expenses. Overall for the 2013-14 fiscal year, SLAS performed better than the Board-approved budget plan, and enjoyed a net return thanks to the positive performance of its reserve fund, which is guided by the Society's investment strategies and the behavior of the global financial markets.
At June 30, 2014, SLAS had net assets of $6,892,421 of which $5,965,090 were designated as reserves by the SLAS Board of Directors or restricted by donors.
December 22, 2014