My Year as SLAS President: A Bit Different than Anticipated!

By Emilio Diez Monedero, Ph.D.

December 3, 2020
When sitting down to compose this message, I took a look at my first message to you published February 6, 2020. The world was not yet facing the ramifications of the pandemic caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). My column began with me writing, “SLAS is truly an exceptional global organization.” I believed that then, and I believe that now.

SLAS President

The next month, eyes were opened to the virus’s power and many aspects of our lives were curtailed. So much changed – seemingly overnight.

Back to that February 2020 column. My next words were, “The Society is uniquely positioned at the interface of science and technology – not only to help its diverse community achieve their fullest potential but to make a broad, deep and lasting impact on our world.”

Little did I know that being “uniquely positioned” would be tested and tried in so many ways! We succeeded. How?

We were fortunate to already have held a very successful SLAS2020 conference. Volunteers and the professional team scrambled, assessed and developed new ways to present our educational content for the rest of this year.

We were fortunate to already have launched SLAS APPLIED, the easy-to-access repository of SLAS conference, journal, symposium, webinar and other educational material.

We were fortunate to already have in place SLAS CONNECTED – where the SLAS community could safely and securely have conference-like discussions online and year-round.

We were fortunate to already have an array of meaningful options to support our up-and-coming researchers like awarding the SLAS Visiting Graduate Researcher Program Grant and SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant.

We were fortunate to begin several new ventures like the extremely popular podcast, New Matter: Inside the Minds of SLAS Scientists, which features snippets of information on all the valuable work being done by our community. And Mentor Match, a program committed to professional development and helping members find and connect with other members. We also developed three infographics to help educate our non-scientific friends about aspects of COVID-19.

Most importantly, we were fortunate to be in an industry that was poised to address COVID-19 head on, by leading the research, testing, diagnosis and eventually the vaccine development, and do it quickly because of our core strength – automation. We are an exceptional group of people who honored our SLAS commitments to share knowledge with others. We did so because so many of our members are innovators at the forefront of providing solutions to the problems caused by the virus. We did it because we knew we had to, and could, help.

It has been my honor and pleasure to serve our community as SLAS president this year. When I pass the (virtual) gavel to Hansjörg Haas in January, I will do so with my very best wishes for his success. With current Board of Directors members and incoming Board members Manuela Beil-Peter (Analytik Jena AG, Germany); Jonathan O’Connell, Ph.D. (Integral Health, United States); and Jan Lichtenberg, Ph.D. (InSphero AG, Switzerland), I know he will be supported well.

I extend my special thanks to these leaders, as well as my fellow SLAS Board members whose tenure also ends at the end of January: Severine Tamas-Lhoustau, M.S. (Novoptim, France), and Peter Simpson, Ph.D. (Medicines Discovery Catapult, United Kingdom). Together with the committees, volunteers and professional team, we have been pleased to serve the SLAS community.

While the ramifications of COVID-19 still wreak havoc in the world, persevering people will triumph. I remain committed to SLAS and look forward to its continued growth. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you, and be well!

(Take a look at the SLAS Year in Review video below, for more highlights of what we’ve been able to accomplish this year.)

2020 SLAS Year in Review