Scientific Excellence Rewarded at SLAS2021 Digital

For Immediate Release

Oak Brook, IL – The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) awarded its annual attendee presenter awards recognizing the outstanding science and technology research presented at the SLAS2021 Digital Conference and Exhibition, January 25-27. This year, the 10th Annual SLAS International Conference and Exhibition was rebranded to SLAS2021 Digital and was held entirely online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Siyu Chen
Siyu Chen

Siyu (Sisi) Chen, Ph.D.., (Caltech, CA, USA) was awarded the 2021 Innovation Award for her presentation, Defining the Breadth and Specificity of Drug Response in Heterogeneous Immune Cell Populations. The Innovation Award includes a $10,000 cash prize disbursed after the winner submits a scientific manuscript for peer reviewed publication in SLAS Discovery or SLAS Technology, the scientific journals of SLAS. In addition, Chen will be invited to participate on the 2022 Innovation Award judging panel, the 2022 international conference Scientific Program Committee and is granted a complementary one-year Premier Membership to SLAS as well as continued publicity of her accomplishment.

Each year, SLAS Innovation Award finalists are identified based on their submitted abstracts which demonstrate exceedingly innovative research and discovery in life sciences and contribute to the exploration of technologies in the laboratory, surpass a benchmark or milestone in screening or the lead discovery process, or demonstrate an advanced and integrated use of mature technologies. The award finalist is then selected by a panel of judges who attend and score each podium presentation on the impact the work has on life sciences and technology, originality and creativity, quality of the science and the oral presentation.

Three SLAS Student Poster Awards were also given out during the virtual conference. Each awardee receives $500 cash for their winning poster of original research:

  • Nikolaj Mandsberg, Ph.D. Cand., Technical University of Denmark (Denmark) - Gradient Droplet Arrays by Acceleration Dip-Coating
  • Choon Leng So, B.S. Pharmacy, University of Queensland (Australia) - High-Throughput Assessment of Calcium Signaling in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells Adopting Various Cellular Geometry
  • David Sykes, Ph.D., The University of Nottingham (United Kingdom) - Novel ThermoFRET and BRET-Based Thermostability Assays Applied to GPCRs

Finally, 11 Tony B. Academic Awards were given to student, graduate student, post-doctoral and junior faculty attendees who submitted exceptional poster abstracts. Each awardee received full conference registration, a workshop registration of their choice, SLAS Premier Membership for one year and will have their poster published in a special Tony B. Academic Award feature issue of SLAS Technology or SLAS Discovery. They will also receive an invitation to be featured on the SLAS podcast, New Matter: Inside the Minds of SLAS Scientists and mentorship through the SLAS Mentor Match Program. This year’s awardees were:

  • Lazar Katanic, Collaborator (United States) - Automation Trainer’s Good Liquid Handling (GLH) Modified Tartrazine-Based Single-Dye Method Improves Qualification of the Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR)
  • Astha Lamichhane, Ph.D., University of Akron (United States) - A 3D Tumor Model of Resistance of Colon Cancer to Cyclic Treatments with Kinase Inhibitors
  • Nikolaj Mandsberg, Ph.D. Cand., Technical University of Denmark (Denmark) - Gradient Droplet Arrays by Acceleration Dip-Coating
  • Yuka Otsuka, Ph.D., Scripps Research (United States) - Identification and Validation of Drugs that Inhibit SARS2-CoV-2 Entry
  • Pouria Rafsanjani Nejad, Ph.D. Cand., University of Akron (United States) - Toxicity of Kinase Pathway Inhibitors in Combination Treatments to Normal Human Cells in a Three-Dimensional Culture
  • Sumitha Rajendra Rao, Ph.D., Scripps Research (United States) - Small Molecule Rescue of Phenotypes Disrupted in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Stefan Schneider, Ph.D., Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB (Germany) - Organ-on-a-Disc: a Platform Technology for the Automated and Parallelized Generation and Culture of Microphysiological 3D Tissues Based on Centrifugal Forces
  • Sunil Singh, Ph.D., University of Akron (United States) - Organotypic Breast Tumor Model for Mechanistic Studies of Tumor-Stromal Interactions
  • David Sykes, Ph.D., The University of Nottingham (United Kingdom) - Novel ThermoFRET and BRET-Based Thermostability Assays Applied to GPCRs
  • Kristine Tan, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (United States) - Optimizing In-Gel Immunoassay Performance by Reducing Fluorescence Background Signal
  • Melissa Unger, Ph.D. Cand., CeMOS (Germany) - Development of an Automated MALDI MS Assay for Direct Analysis of Cellular Drug Uptake via the Organic Anion Transporting Polypeptide OATP2B1
  • Ming Yao, Ph.D., University of Washington (United States) - A Multiwell Plate-Based High-Throughput Technology for Toxicity Screening Under Various Oxygen Environments

The SLAS International Conference and Exhibition is an annual event showcasing the world’s leading life sciences research and innovative laboratory technologies. This year, more than 3,500 scientists, academicians, technology providers and business leaders attended the annual conference in a virtual setting. The innovative online program focused on life sciences discovery and technology and featured a virtual exhibition with more than 200 companies from around the world. SLAS members played a key role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, developing diagnostics and laboratory testing facilities, and contributing to vaccine development and data analysis worldwide.


SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening) is an international professional society of academic, industry and government life sciences researchers and developers and providers of laboratory automation 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.


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