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The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening Announces $100,000 Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Awarded to Carine Nemr of the University of Toronto

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Oak Brook, IL (USA) — March 26, 2019 — The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) is honored to announce Carine Nemr, Ph.D. candidate from the University of Toronto (Canada), as the 2019 SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant recipient. This is the fourth year the SLAS grant has been awarded and Nemr is the first recipient from Canada.

Nemr will receive $100,000 awarded over two years to expand her research in the development of novel technologies that allow for bacterial identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing in one test directly taken from individual patient samples. Nemr and her work were nominated by Shanna Kelley, Ph.D., professor at the University of Toronto and principal investigator at the university’s Kelley Lab. She was also the winner of the 2016 SLAS Innovation Award.

“The technologies and devices that Carine details in her research plan will have a large impact on the future of infectious disease management,” says Kelley. “This grant will allow us to take her project from conception to validation.”

Nemr’s current research focuses on diagnostics for strains such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Her developed technology concentrates resistant bacteria from clinical samples into a microfluidic device; detecting resistant strains with specific antibodies linked to magnetic nanoparticles as “collectors.” Passage through a magnetic field segregates the bad bugs, which can be viewed electrochemically. Her portable device permits both antibiotic screening and strain ID, and the assay runs in hours instead of days.  Nemr’s goal is to broaden the technique for the detection of other antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains in blood, such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a potential cause of sepsis.

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 “Clinical diagnosis of bacterial infections can currently take up to a few days. In that time, patients may be administered inappropriate antibiotics, which increases the spread of infection, the prevalence of antibiotic resistance and can worsen patient outcomes,” says Nemr. “My research focuses on addressing these issues through the development of novel diagnostic devices for rapid detection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in patient samples.”

Judging criteria for the SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant is based on the quality and capability of the institution and its educational program to support the grant, endorsement and commitment by the institution and faculty advisor with the student applicant, the quality and record of the specific research program, the quality and promise of the research being proposed, among others.

The SLAS Grant Program was introduced in 2015 to facilitate educational opportunities for outstanding students pursuing graduate degrees related to quantitative biosciences and/or life sciences R&D. This program helps to realize a fundamental tenet of SLAS’s mission: to advance the fields of laboratory science and technology by nurturing the next generation of professional scientists. The application period for the 2020 grant will begin in the fall of 2019.

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SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening) is an international community of more than 19,000 professionals and students dedicated to life sciences discovery and technology. The SLAS mission is to bring together researchers in academia, industry and government to advance life sciences discovery and technology via education, knowledge exchange and global community building. For more information about SLAS, visit www.slas.org.

SLAS publishes two peer-reviewed and MEDLINE-indexed scientific journals, SLAS Discovery and SLAS Technology. For more information about SLAS and its journals, visit www.slas.org/journals.

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