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With Respect and Gratitude: My Year as SLAS President

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.

By Scott Atkin

I can say with confidence that my three years of service on the SLAS Board of Directors were tremendously inspiring, enlightening and rewarding. I feel privileged to have worked alongside one of the most dedicated and committed teams I’ve met in my career. Our SLAS professional team works tirelessly to ensure our membership, the world’s most respected innovators in life sciences discovery and technology, have access to the tools, information and knowledge they need to drive some of the most exciting advances in human health and well-being. In addition to the professional team, I am also especially grateful to those who worked so closely with me on the SLAS Board of Directors over the years, including those whose tenures also are coming to an end – 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).  Being a board member is a big commitment and it’s amazing that so many exceptional people have made SLAS a priority. I’d be honored to have the chance to work with such a talented team again in the future.

Volunteers fuel the engine that drives SLAS. While the board sets the strategic direction and the professional team executes on that strategy, SLAS could not/would not exist without thoughtful contributions of time and effort by practicing professionals. Indeed, being peer-led and peer-focused is what ensures the relevance of the Society’s programs and keeps us squarely on our mission. From critiquing scientific manuscripts before publication to making presentations at conferences to serving on the SLAS Board or one of its regional councils or committees, SLAS is its members. Together, we enable greatness by harnessing and focusing on the front-line knowledge, experience and perspective of the members of our Society.

SLAS has always been an incredibly productive organization. During my tenure, we continued our trajectory of success with a myriad of achievements. To complement our flagship SLAS International Conference and Exhibition in North America, we launched plans for an SLAS Europe Conference and Exhibition in 2018. We awarded the first $100,000 SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship grant, welcomed our inaugural class of SLAS Fellow Members and rebranded our journals to more accurately reflect their outstanding content.  We’ve also begun a multi-year journey to expand our efforts to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the life sciences community.

This past year, we marked two especially major milestones. To ensure we continue to be nimble and able to leverage the shifting sands of our community’s scientific interests, we invested hundreds of hours of thought and discussion into refreshing our SLAS Strategic Plan. We also searched for and secured outstanding executive leadership for our professional team with the addition of Vicki Loise as CEO. She hit the ground running with a commitment to continuous innovation and scientific achievement that mirrors our own.

I will always look back with fondness and pride in my years of service to SLAS, and especially my year as SLAS president. As with nearly every past SLAS President, we’re even more committed as our terms come to a close and I’m no different. Although my year as president is ending, I will remain a loyal member of SLAS and take full advantage of the outstanding resources and benefits our membership provides. I hope you will continue to do the same and I look forward to seeing old friends and new scientific discoveries soon at SLAS2018 in San Diego.

December 4, 2017