SLAS Announces $100,000 Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Awarded to Benjamin David of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

For Immediate Release

Oak Brook, IL (May 5, 2022) – The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) is pleased to announce Benjamin David, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI, USA), as the 2022 SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant recipient.

"I am excited about this opportunity," David comments. "The SLAS grant offers the freedom to explore interesting developments as they emerge from research. As I progress through this project, if I find an interesting aspect of the research, I have the freedom to pause and explore that new area. That wouldn't be possible with other types of grants tied to specific work."

The SLAS Grant will cover David's exploration of sequential transcriptional profiling, a tool that holds potential to unlock new areas in life sciences research while improving efficiency, practicality and reducing costs through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to guide research selections. Transcriptional profiling, or measuring the relative change of RNA transcripts, is a powerful, genome-wide tool for measuring gene expression in response to varying experimental stimuli. While next-generation sequencers have rapidly decreased the cost of RNA sequencing, most of these small-scale experiments study a single stimulus in isolation and do not scale to larger studies.

“I am interested in studying many different stimuli at once because it is more reflective of the complexity of biological systems,” explains David, who began this work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC, Urbana, IL, USA). “What I propose is a process of many sequential experiments guided by an AI technique known as reinforcement learning (RL) to help decide where we go next after the first and every subsequent experiment. Our goal is to find compelling genotypes that lead to phenotypes that we're interested in studying further.”

David plans to leverage the immense knowledge base available in SLAS membership to support his grant research. "I anticipate a few logistical challenges in this research that have a lot to do with automation," he comments. “It's not feasible for me to set up large-scale experiments solo without fear of making mistakes from the sheer volume of things to accomplish. As I'm able to get more involved with SLAS, I know I will encounter a lot of great ideas for how to approach quality control, logistical issues, working with the liquid handling robots in our lab and much more.”

Judging criteria for the SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant is based on the applicability of the student researcher’s work to laboratory automation and screening, originality and creativity of the scientific approach, quality of the science, presentation of the research objectives, and the quality and capability of the institution and its educational program to support the grant.

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.


SLAS (the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening) is an international community of more than 19,000 individual scientists, engineers, researchers, technologists and related professionals from academic, government and commercial research laboratories. The SLAS mission is to be the preeminent global organization providing forums for education and information exchange and to encourage the study of, and improve the practice of, life sciences discovery and technology. For more information, visit For more information visit or contact SLAS Global Headquarters at +1.877.990.SLAS (5727) or e-mail


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