Show Preview: SLAS goes East

Washington, D.C., will host ‘what’s new in lab automation and screening’ for the SLAS2015 meeting

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Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening
4th Annual Conference and Exhibition
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.
Feb. 7-11, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C.—This year marks a significant milestone for the annual meeting of the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS), as SLAS2015 gets ready to convene Feb. 7-11 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
“This meeting marks the first time SLAS will hold our annual meeting in D.C.,” notes Tom Manning, the organization’s director of marketing communications. Formed only four years ago by the merger of the Society for Biomolecular Sciences (SBS) and the Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA), the organization has quickly become the launching pad for what’s new in lab automation and screening. “We are excited about D.C. for a number of reasons,” Manning states, and lists off a few: “The location is easily accessible for much of the U.S. and is within driving distance for many East Coast residents. Furthermore, the D.C. location should enable more government scientists—often constrained by travel and training expenses—to participate in SLAS2015.”
In 2014, SLAS, headquartered near Chicago, set in motion a multiyear rotation between San Diego (even-number years) and D.C. (odd-number years) as the host city for the society’s flagship annual event.
San Diego readily attracts the biotechnology community, notes SLAS President Daniel Sipes, who represents that community in his “day job” with the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, where he is the director of advanced automation technologies. In addition to government types, Sipes adds that Big Pharma and European representatives are likely to find the East Coast location convenient.
Sipes notes that since the merger of the SBS and the ALA four years ago to form SLAS, the annual meeting has been structured with three pillars: education, exhibits and community. Many attendees, he observes, come principally for one of the three, particularly the exhibits, but post-event surveys have indicated all three aspects rate highly with attendees.
In terms of “education,” which we at DDNews tend to focus on in these show previews, SLAS2015 will feature 140 podium presentations across seven educational tracks, which are: Assay Development and Screening, Automation and High-Throughput Technologies, Bioanalytical Techniques, Biomarker Discovery and Applications, Drug Target Strategies, Micro- and Nanotechnologies and, finally, Informatics.
Manning notes that especially high-profile podium presentations (and authors) scheduled for SLAS2015 include the 10 finalists for the annual SLAS Innovation Award:
  • Droplet Microfluidics for High-Throughput Analysis and Sensing by Prof. Robert Kennedy, University of Michigan
  • Digital Microfluidic Immunocytochemistry in Single Cells (DISC) by Prof. Aaron Wheeler, University of Toronto
  • An Automated Open Platform for Exclusion-based Sample Preparation: Getting More Information from Limited Patient Samples by David J. Guckenberger, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Droplet-Based Three-Dimensional Cell Migration Assay with Flow Cytometry-Based Automated Analysis by Dr. Marie-Elena Brett, University of Minnesota
  • Novel Acoustic Loading of a Mass Spectrometer—Towards Next-Generation High-Throughput MS Screening by Dr. Jonathan Wingfield, AstraZeneca, Discovery Sciences
  • Automation of Droplet Manipulation Using Electrowetting on Film by Dr. Thomas D. Perroud, eFluidics
  • Annotating Biological Activities of Compounds by High-content Pathway Profiling Assays by Dr. Sergei S. Makarov, ATTAGENE
  • The Simoa HD-1 Analyzer: A Fully automated, Multiplexed Immunoanalyzer with Single Molecule Sensitivity by Dr. David C. Duffy, Quanterix Corp.
  • Zero Background in Homogeneous Proximity Assays Using Thermofluorimetric Analysis (TFA) for Quantitation of Attomole Protein Levels in Serum by Dr. Joonyul Kim, Auburn University
  • Bioinspired Spleen-on-a-chip for Sepsis Therapy by Dr. Joo Hun Kang, Wyss Institute/Harvard University
Interested parties can see presentation and session details for the items above and others, as well as the latest version of the scientific program, on the SLAS2015 Event Scheduler at
Special Sessions are also a highlight of the scientific program, Manning notes.
“Three unique Special Sessions have been curated especially for SLAS2015,” he observes. “Each of these includes multiple presentations focused on the broader theme of the session. Special Sessions at SLAS2015 include: European Government/Foundation Drug Discovery Collaboration; The Commercialization of New Technologies: From Ideas to Reality (presented by the SLAS Journal of Laboratory Automation); and An Evening with NIH, which will be moderated by Chris Austin, director of the National Center for the Advancement of Translational Sciences.”
Keynote presenters include Dr. Donald Ingber, Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology, professor of bioengineering and founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, who will address SLAS2015 on Monday, Feb. 9, as well as NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins on Wednesday, Feb. 11, and Laurie Garrett, author and noted authority on global health issues on Wednesday night.
And then there is the “exhibit” part of the three pillars of SLAS meetings, which Manning calls “another highlight.”
“We expect more than 300 exhibiting companies,” he says. “In addition to traditional booths, many companies are also delivering Exhibitor Tutorials, thereby adding to the technical education SLAS2015 attendees are eligible to receive. The exhibit hall will also host our traditional SLAS Innovation AveNEW, which is a segment of the show floor featuring eight start-up companies from around the globe with especially notable technologies. As Innovation AveNEW participants, these companies received complimentary exhibit space and other in-kind support as part of SLAS’ mission to nurture scientific technology innovation.”
“Intelligent Network Building is another cornerstone of this annual event,” Manning notes, bringing in the third pillar of “community,” which often revolves around meals, receptions and other events that facilitate attendee interaction. “A highlight of our networking lineup is the Tuesday evening event at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum,” he states.
The Career Connections offerings have also been enhanced for SLAS2015. This programming includes career-focused workshops, the opportunity for individual resume review, interview training, a job board and mentoring opportunities with professional scientists and researchers local to D.C. Similarly, a robust lineup of education and networking for students and early career professionals is also on tap.

Step out along Innovation AveNEW
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Innovation AveNEW has become something of “a traditional highlight” of the annual SLAS Conference and Exhibition, according to the SLAS. Through this program, SLAS provides startup companies with exposure and prestige by granting complimentary exhibit space and in-kind support that enables the company’s participation at the SLAS annual meeting. Innovation AveNEW participants are selected by a committee of SLAS volunteers that judges applicants based on a set of criteria that includes the impact of the technology, commercial viability and potential impact on the field of laboratory automation and technology.
SLAS congratulates the following eight companies from four different countries that will represent Innovation AveNEW at SLAS2015:
  • Ceres Nanosciences in Manassas, Va., is a privately held life-sciences company engaged in the research, development and commercialization of innovative sample preparation products based on its proprietary Nanotrap technology, which captures, enriches and preserves analytes/biomarkers.
  • Creoptix in Wadenswil, Switzerland, goes for “high-sensitivity meets label-free by offering best-in-class biosensor devices for the most demanding applications in life-sciences research and drug discovery.”
  • Electrospinning in Oxfordshire, U.K, was launched in 2010 to develop products utilizing the world-class electrospinning platform at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.
  • InnoCyte in Stuttgart, Germany, has developed a technology that standardizes, automates, accelerates and therefore significantly simplifies and reduces the cost of producing biological cells.
  • Microscopy Innovations in Marshfield, Wis., is a life-sciences tools company founded in 2007 to create novel products for microscopy laboratories.
  • SiTOOLS in Bavaria, Germany, provides novel tools for RNA interference around siPOOLs, which are complex pools of accurately defined siRNAs, which show efficient and robust target gene knockdown to reduce off-target effects and deliver clean and reliable phenotypic data.
  • StackWave in Louisville, Ky., comprises a team of software developers skilled in biotech and pharmaceutical software systems integration.
  • Telos Scientific in San Diego bridges the gap between science and engineering to make laboratory automation user-friendly, highly functional and bottom-line productive.
SLAS invites you to stop by Innovation AveNEW in the SLAS2015 Exhibition to visit with these companies and see the technologies that earned them this important distinction.

Keynote addresses at SLAS2015
With a theme of focusing on leveraging science to advance the health of humankind, the keynote addresses at SLAS2015 will cover issues that range from biomimetic micro systems that feature “organ-on-a-chip” technology to global health issues.
Monday, Feb. 9, 9 a.m.
Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.
Founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital and professor of bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Dr. Donald Ingber is a founder of the emerging field of biologically inspired engineering, and at the Wyss Institute, he oversees a multifaceted effort to identify the mechanisms that living organisms use to self-assemble from molecules and cells and to apply these design principles to develop advanced materials and devices for healthcare and to improve sustainability. He has made major contributions to mechanobiology, tissue engineering, tumor angiogenesis, systems biology and nanobiotechnology. He has authored more than 375 publications and 85 patents, and has received numerous honors, including the Holst Medal, Pritzker Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society, Rous-Whipple Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of In Vitro Biology, and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Innovator Award.
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 8:30 a.m.
Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
As the head of the NIH, Dr. Francis S. Collins oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH from 1993 to 2008. Before coming to the NIH, Dr. Collins was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007 and received the National Medal of Science in 2009.
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 3:45 p.m.
Laurie Garrett
Author, journalist and authority on global health issues
Laurie Garrett is one of America’s leading commentators on global health issues. She is the only person to win the three P’s of journalism: The Pulitzer Prize, the Peabody Award and the Polk Award. She is a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and is the bestselling author of The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust. She has written for Foreign Affairs, Esquire and The Washington Post, and has appeared frequently on television shows, such as “Nightline,” “Charlie Rose” and “Oprah.” Garrett also served as a script consultant to Contagion, the film directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon. Garrett is a former president and now a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and has been awarded three honorary PhDs. Garrett’s long-awaited third book, now in stores, is called I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks.

Special Sessions at SLAS2015
SLAS2015 will feature a series of special sessions, each comprised of multiple presentations dedicated to especially timely and relevant topical areas.
European Government/Foundation Drug Discovery Initiatives
Monday, Feb. 9, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Session Chair: Steven Rees, AstraZeneca
European governmental and charity agencies are enabling the translation of academic discovery into health benefits of economic value by funding the creation of several novel models and approaches to drug discovery. These initiatives have included the development of new compound libraries, the establishment of academic screening centers and the formation of innovative partnerships with industry. Speakers in this special session explore the interaction of these initiatives with academia and pharma, and describe the anticipated benefit of these programs in terms of bringing novel projects into the clinic. Presentations include:
  • Chemical Biology Consortium Sweden—Deliveries Including Scientific Highlights After Five Years (Presenter: Annika Jenmalm Jensen, Chemical Biology Consortium)
  • EU-OPENSCREEN: Chemical Tools for the Life Sciences (Presenter: Philip Gribbon, ScreeningPort Hamburg)
  • The European Lead Factory: Game Changing for Innovative Medicine (Presenter: Steven van Helden, Pivot Park Screening Centre)
  • Opening “The Box of Delights”—Accessing Pharma to Enhance Academic Drug Discovery: (Presenter: Justin Bryans, MRC Technology)
The Commercialization of Laboratory Technologies: From Ideas to Reality
Monday, Feb. 9, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Presented by the Journal of Laboratory Automation
Session Chairs: Dean Ho, University of California, Los Angeles and Edward Chow, National University of Singapore
Topics covered in this session include the process of commercialization and challenges that, when overcome, catalyze the ability to transition a product or technology from benchtop innovation to lasting commercial impact. Presentations include:
  • Creativity Beyond the Science: Innovative Ways to Commercialize an Idea in the Global Industry (Presenter: Katherine Wang, BRIM Technology)
  • Moving Research Innovations to the Market (Presenter: Alicia Löffler, Innovation and New Ventures Office, Northwestern University)
  • Opportunities and Challenges in Life Sciences R&D (Presenter: Jeremy Caldwell, Third Rock Ventures)
  • Minding the Gaps in Biomedical Technology Translation (Presenter: Megan Frisk, Science Translational Medicine/AAAS)
An Evening with NIH
Monday, Feb. 9, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Join Chris Austin, director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, as he chairs a special evening event focused on the array of programs, services and capabilities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and how to best navigate the organization. Presentations include:
  • Facilitated Translation Within NCATS’ TRND and BrIDGs Programs (Presenter: Nora Yang, NIH)
  • NIH-Industry Partnership to Discover New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules (Presenter: Christine Colvis, NIH)
  • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences SBIR and STTR Programs: Valuable Resources for Small Businesses (Presenter: Lili Portilla, NIH)
  • NCI Experimental Therapeutics Program (Presenter: Barbara Mroczkowski, NIH)

SLAS Career Connections
Touted as “one of the select few highly discreet, automated employment programs that brings together its online professional services with its respected career center and development sessions at the annual meeting,” SLAS invites attendees to take advantage of SLAS Career Connections offerings, which include free career development workshops.
One of these workshops is “Mock Interviews: Preparation and Practice for Getting the Jobs You Want” by Dr. Daniel J. Eustace, a professor at the University of Connecticut. Held Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. (breakfast will be served), this interactive workshop invites audience members to play active roles participating in, providing feedback for and perhaps coaching how to manage different kinds of interview scenarios.
All attendees should bring their current resumes to the workshop and be prepared to actively participate. Attendees will learn by doing, by watching others interview, by discussing alternate approaches and by internalizing how one would perform if they were in the situation.
In addition, Prof. Eustace provides one-on-one and group career counseling sessions by appointment at the SLAS Member Center Monday, Feb. 9, and Tuesday, Feb. 10. Contact Mary Geismann at to schedule your appointment.
The other three of the four career development workshops are being presented by Dr. Joanne Kamens, executive director of Addgene, who will cover networking, choosing a lab and transitioning from academia to industry.
“Not Networking 101—Building Relationships for Success,” will be held Monday, Feb. 9, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. (breakfast will be served). As described by SLAS: Networking has gotten a really bad name these days. I take your card, you take my card and then we don’t call each other. This workshop is designed to reintroduce you to how strong professional relationships can be necessary for most people to succeed in their careers. It will provide practical tools for meeting people and for nurturing new and established connections.
Kamens will conduct “Smooth transitions—Top 10 List: Things Scientists Ask About Finding an Industry Job” on Monday, Feb. 9, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and attendees are asked to bring a box lunch if they need one. SLAS says of this workshop: These days, staying in academia is really the “alternative” career for scientists. The majority of young scientists will not end up in a traditional academic research position. This presentation will give attendees some criteria to consider in deciding if embarking on an industry science career is right for you, and then will provide concrete tools and resources for preparing for this transition.
The third of Kamens' presentation is “How to Choose Your Next Lab” on Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., again with the suggestion to bring a box lunch.
As for the SLAS take on this workshop: For some reasons, grad students and post-docs don’t seem to see a lab choice as a major career decision. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You will spend four to seven years working for one person in a small group—don’t you think this is worth a little pre-work to make sure it will be a good fit and get you close to where you want to go in the future? This presentation will give you practical tips for what to look for and how to find it when choosing a new lab for your research. A must-hear for all young scientists.

Networking opportunities for every lifestyle
Attendees at SLAS2015 represent “a unique nexus of diverse interests that fosters the limitless potential of global collaboration,” says the SLAS website, adding, “The value of time spent in world-class educational sessions at SLAS2015 is rivaled by time spent meeting speakers, exhibitors and other conference participants.” From hoisting a pint at a local pub to beginning the day with a 4.2-mile run, the menu of social activities offers a broad array of opportunities for attendees to get to know each other and continue conversations that could lead—who knows?—to the next Nobel Prize.
Receptions in the Exhibition
Refresh and refuel with complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and snack buffets.
Sunday, 5:30 7:00 p.m.
Monday, 5:30 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, 5:00 6:00 p.m.
SLAS2015 Tuesday Night Celebration
Blast Off at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Sponsored by Hamilton Company
Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Fasten your seat belts, put your networking goals in an upright position and feel free to move about the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Meet, greet and celebrate the right stuff at one of the Top 10 Coolest Museums in Washington, D.C., as SLAS continues its tradition of presenting a memorable final evening fete to commemorate this annual gathering of our global community.
  • Enjoy an out-of-this-world buffet, select wines, domestic beers and soft drinks
  • Experience interstellar travel in one of several flight simulators
  • Explore all museum exhibits
  • Watch the 30-minute movie, “To Space and Back,” in the museum’s planetarium theater
  • Connect with your fellow scientific professionals
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum maintains the world’s largest and most significant collection of aviation and space artifacts, including the 1903 Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia and a lunar rock you can touch, but not toss.
Complimentary and continuous shuttle bus service is provided between the Marriott Marquis and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum from 6:45 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. (10 minute travel time). All guests must have an SLAS2015 badge and be 21 or older.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name: The SLAS2015 Corner Bars
Wear your SLAS2015 badge to these nearby hot spots, then kick back and enjoy exclusive SLAS-only discounts on eats and drinks.
Baby Wale
10 percent off all food and drinks. Adjacent to the Marriott Marquis, the Baby Wale offers tasty and creative small plates, entrees and a complete bar menu. Location: 1124 9th St. NW (Closed Sunday, Feb. 9)
City Tap House
10 percent off all drinks. In the same block as the Renaissance, the City Tap House offers a full bar headlined with craft brews from around the world, brick-oven pizzas and elevated pub fare (Discounts do not apply to food). Location: 901 9th Street NW
On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!
Start your Monday morning with a brisk run or walk along with your friends from Promega and Gilson. This 4.2 mi/6.8 km Sunrise Run takes you past the U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and White House. Runners and walkers depart from the Marriot Marquis lobby at 6:30 a.m. sharp. (The Sunrise Run presented by Promega and Gilson is an optional event, not an official SLAS2015 function.)
Students and Early Career Professionals: Ready, Aim, Roll!
After the exhibits close on Sunday, all students and early-career professionals are invited to roll over to the nearby Lucky Strike for bowling, networking and cajoling. Get to know others who, like you, will drive the world’s next wave of scientific innovation. Enjoy glow-in-the-dark lanes, a state-of-the-art sound system and tournament-quality billiard tables. SLAS picks up the tab for bowling lane rentals, bowling shoes, delicious light bites and soft drinks. A cash bar is available for those 21 and older.
Home Away From Home: The Global Village
Visitors from outside the U.S. have a designated rendezvous point in the SLAS2015 Exhibit Hall’s Global Village. Meet others from your part of the world, meet the leaders who serve on the SLAS Asia Council and SLAS Europe Council and meet members of the SLAS professional team.

SLAS Member Center
The SLAS Member Center is the headquarters for career services at SLAS2015. Job seekers and employers are invited to browse job postings in the newly redesigned interactive Career Connections Center, post resumes and sign up for a one-on-one career coaching session with a professional career counselor. To request a personal coaching session, contact Mary Geismann at
The SLAS says its Member Center is the place for members and nonmembers alike to learn everything there is to know about the many year-round benefits and services available through SLAS.
In addition, in the Member Center you can receive a guided tour of, a review of your SLAS member benefits and participate in some giveaways.

From two, one
CHICAGO—In early 2009, the Society for Biomolecular Sciences (SBS) and the Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA) began discussing ways the organizations could work together to further their respective missions. These discussions led SBS and ALA to recognize that coordinating programs and activities offered many significant advantages. Accordingly, SBS and ALA assigned a task force of eight experienced volunteer leaders, to determine the viability of an SBS-ALA affiliation. The team quickly and unanimously concluded that both SBS and ALA could be strengthened by merging into a new entity that advanced their common missions and goals while respecting and protecting their unique individual histories and identities.
The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) was officially launched on May 5, 2010 in a merger of the Association for Laboratory Automation and the Society for Biomolecular Sciences. SLAS is a global organization that exists to provide forums for education and information exchange to encourage the study of, and improve the science and practice of, laboratory automation and screening.
Mirroring its organizational genesis, the society is comprised of a Biomolecular Sciences Section that exists to advance SLAS’s exempt goals with respect to the science and technology of drug discovery and the use and development of biomolecular screening technology. Likewise, the Laboratory Automation Section strives to further science and education related to laboratory automation, and in particular by encouraging and advancing the study and improving the practice of laboratory automation.
SLAS is headquartered in St. Charles, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, and has offices in Shanghai and Brussels. It publishes the Journal of Laboratory Automation and the Journal of Biomolecular Screening in partnership with SAGE Publications.

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