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SLAS: Where Innovation and Collaboration are Commonplace

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!

Attendees could select from 144 podium presentations, 350+ poster presentations, 20 Short Courses (including four new topics!), 43 exhibitor tutorials, 14 Special Interest Group meetings, and (new this year!) six Ignite presentations. There was also ample opportunity to network with colleagues both new and old in the hallways and over dinner. Thanks to the 300+exhibitors who once again wowed us with the latest and greatest to help us chart the future of life sciences discovery and technology. Perhaps most importantly, thanks to the participants who expect only the best when attending the SLAS International Conference and Exhibition – you push us at SLAS to strive to ever greater heights each year!

It is humbling to serve as president of SLAS, especially when following Scott Atkin, IOI Partners (Zionsville, IN). Thank you, Scott, for your great work in the past year with respect to setting a new course in the SLAS Strategic Plan, restructuring SLAS governance and pushing forward with the 2018 SLAS Europe Conference and Exhibition. Our Society owes great gratitude to Scott, Michele Cleary of The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research (New York, NY) and Sue Lunte of the Ralph N. Adams Institute for Bioanalytical Chemistry at the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), whose SLAS Board of Directors terms concluded at SLAS2018. They will be missed. In their place, new Board members Emilio Diez Monedero of Atlas Molecular Pharma (Madrid, Spain), Peter Simpson of Medicines Discovery Catapult (Alderley Park, United Kingdom) and Severine Tamas-Lhoustau of Novoptim (Montigny le Bretonneux, France) join the Board with an overwhelming desire to contribute to SLAS’s ongoing success.

As always this time of year, after the SLAS conference, it is time to look forward. Among the many programs, products, services and events on tap for 2018 is the inaugural 2018 SLAS Europe Conference and Exhibition, June 27-29, Brussels, Belgium. SLAS is positioned to deliver International Conference and Exhibition quality in a new region to meet the needs of our growing European community. Leading the charge are Conference Chairs Diez-Monedero; Annika Jenmalm Jensen (Karolinska Institute, Sweden); and Ian Shuttler (Tecan, Switzerland).

Futurist Peter Hinssen, life sciences collaboration thought leader Mathias Uhlén of the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden) and policy maker Max Lemke, Components and Systems of the European Commission (Brussels, Belgium) take the podium as keynote speakers. This premier event also offers scientific sessions in three tracks, an exhibition of leading companies, SLAS Innovation AveNEW (start-up companies should apply by March 15), posters, vendor workshops, supplier user group meetings, Special Interest Group meetings and plenty of time to network with peers. Conference registration is open, and early-bird rates are available until March 30. Please join us at this new SLAS venture!

I have always known SLAS to be the community where innovation is plentiful and collaboration is commonplace, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to help direct the future of this Society. There is no better proof of our impact on life sciences discovery and technology than the inspiring group of award winners named at SLAS2018:

2018 SLAS Innovation Award winner is Paul Ju Sung Hung, Ph.D., COMBiNATi Inc., “Microfluidic Siphoning Array (MSA) – A Novel Scalable Digital PCR Integrated Platform.”

SLAS2018 Student Poster Competition winners are John Hickey, Johns Hopkins University,
“High-Throughput Enrichment and Identification of Rare Antigen-specific CD8+ T Cells”; Xiao Wang, BioMEMS Resource Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, “Squeeze & Chemotax: A High-Throughput Microfluidic Assay for Probing the Effect of Deformation on Leukocyte Chemotaxis”; and Sri Teja Mallapudi, Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, “In vivo Screening to Identify Insulin-independent Modulators of Metabolism Identifies Novel Candidates.”

SLAS2018 New Product Award winners are FORMULATRIX® for the CONSTELLATION® Digital PCR System; Labcyte for the Echo 655T Acoustic Liquid Handler; and iotaSciences for isoCell.

2018 SLAS Journal Achievement Award honorees for SLAS Discovery and SLAS Technology authors and reviewers are celebrated for the popularity of their published reports and exceptional volunteer service in 2017. All articles are now free to access.

Finally, let’s not forget the 65 up-and-coming scientists from 15 different countries who participated in SLAS2018 as SLAS Tony B. Academic Travel Award winners!

I wish all of you in the SLAS community a fruitful continuation of your work in 2018! We will come back to you regularly throughout 2018 with updates on the latest developments in our community. So keep an eye on your inbox.


February 26, 2018