Comment: SLAS’ strength is collaboration 

The Winter issue of the Drug Discovery World Magazine is accompanied by an exclusive DDW & SLAS2022 supplement ahead of SLAS2022 in Boston, US on 5-9 February. As we all look forward to the expertise at the event, Jill Hronek, Director of Marketing and Communications at SLAS, comments that collaboration has always been key for the organisation as well as the wider scientific community. SLAS, she says, is excited to showcase this at its upcoming SLAS2022, in both Boston and as a hybrid exhibition. 

We welcome you back to the SLAS2022 International Conference and Exhibition. We are thrilled to be back in person and to be able to provide a hybrid conference experience for those who could not or chose not to travel to Boston.  

This is an exciting time to be involved in the laboratory automation field. 2021 SLAS President Hansjörg Haas from Thermo Fisher Scientific reflected on his role over the past year: “Our industry experienced an unprecedented amount of investment with science infrastructures being geared to fully utilise the power of automation, an integrated digital ecosystem and AI to advance science and discovery. It felt like science had woken up to automation, utilising new technologies and approaches like collaborative robotics, mobile robotics, remote automation, distributed automation, lab workflow orchestration, digital twinning and artificial intelligence (AI),” he commented. 

The collaboration we saw within the global scientific community will be on display at SLAS2022, as it has always been. There is no one player, no one scientist nor one piece of technology that got us to where we are today. It took the ingenuity, innovation and inspiration of many and the support and confidence of many others to manage the pandemic response. And many of those people, organisations and companies will be in Boston to share their knowledge.  

This is SLAS’ strength: collaboration. We are an unusual organisation in many ways. We aren’t just a group of like-minded scientists working on a single common task and none of our members work in a vacuum (although working remotely may have felt that way at times). We are a global community of scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, engineers, data scientists, sample managers, students, managers, inventors, robotics experts, 3-D printing gurus, problem solvers, doers, thinkers and mentors working on myriad life sciences challenges. You’ll find a variety of job titles but a single mission: transforming research. 

The SLAS2022 programme (like its year-round mission) is heavy on supporting the next generation of life sciences professionals. But that ‘next generation’ isn’t just dedicated to getting new graduates on their feet. Next generation to SLAS also means being a valuable resource to the constant learners that make up our community at every stage of their career: whether that’s the senior executive looking to give back and mentor, teach or write; the first-year Ph.D. student looking to make an impact, secure a grant, or have their ideas heard by a global audience; or the budding entrepreneur looking to share their next great solution with the world. 

Our collaboration is not accidental – it’s very intentional. We have launched CONNECTED, the online platform for 24-7-365 idea-sharing, special interest groups (some of them meeting in Boston) for drilling down into a specific topical area. We’ve relaunched the APPLIED online learning platform for continued skills building, and real-time and on-demand learning. But away from the screens, SLAS Europe Ambassadors Christian Parker and Julio Martin have been travelling and visiting a variety of European countries and related organisations (some in-person conferences, some remote meetings) to build the SLAS community. 

We invite you to take in all that SLAS2022 has to offer: 

  • Nine scientific tracks and sessions with more than 190 presenters 
  • Innovation Award presentations to reward the best of the best in scientific innovation 
  • Innovation AveNEW start-up and emerging life sciences companies in the exhibition – see if you can pick the next Ignite Award winner! 
  • More than 300 exhibitors 
  • Over 35 Solutions Spotlight presentations from our vendors, and nearly 50 exhibitor tutorials for up-close examination of critical technologies 
  • 13 special interest group meetings open to all attendees 
  • Short courses for intensive learning and skills building 
  • Lightning Talks in our new Poster Theater 
  • SLAS Booth to look at job postings, meet the journal editors, or recharge yourself or your device. 

We’re excited to be live-streaming the presentations from our Ignite Theater on the exhibition floor. Our Ignite programme is designed to keep pushing us forward – from the technologies in Innovation AveNEW, to the academic-industry collaboration presentations to the issues in between that help us create a diverse, supportive scientific workplace and community. Join us for this diverse selection of featured talks: 

  • WomXn and the Path to Computer Sciences: Minding the Gender Gap  
  • Keynote Speaker Raven Solomon Leads an SLAS Member Panel on Critical Diversity Issues  
  • AI in Labs: Improving Research, Products and a Look to the Future  
  • Startups 101: How to Get Started, What to Expect and What NOT to Expect 
  • Funding Trends in Life Sciences: What Does the Investment Ecosystem Look Like?  
  • What’s Trending? The Future of Science and the People and Skills We’ll Need  

The future of SLAS is bright. Our new Strategic Plan – which will guide our efforts from 2022-2026 – has as its goals to sustain and grow SLAS as the premier society in the laboratory automation and screening space, to develop SLAS organically to best serve its membership with relevant content and to broaden its reach through partnerships with other organisations. At its core is a mission to catalyse multi-disciplinary innovations in life sciences through four strong pillars – Global Community, Discovery, Technologies and Applications and Scientific Data Harmonisation. Our conference in Boston, and our Europe conference May 24-27 in Dublin, will kick off the next five years of growth as we support scientific progress.  

Whether you’re attending SLAS2022 in person or online, you will be rewarded with fantastic science, valuable conversation with new collaborators, new ideas and new ways of thinking. SLAS’ tagline – Come Transform Research – is as relevant today as it was 10 years ago. We invite you to engage, challenge, celebrate and support the life sciences community to push farther and grow together. We’re hyped to be back! 

Volume 23, Issue 1 – Winter 2021/22 | SLAS2022 supplement 

About the author 

Jill Hronek has served as the Director, Marketing and Communications for the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening since 2018. She and her team are responsible for getting people in seats, eyes on screens, and words and images on pages to engage and inform the SLAS life sciences community and transform research.

Related Articles

Join FREE today and become a member
of Drug Discovery World

Membership includes:

  • Full access to the website including free and gated premium content in news, articles, business, regulatory, cancer research, intelligence and more.
  • Unlimited App access: current and archived digital issues of DDW magazine with search functionality, special in App only content and links to the latest industry news and information.
  • Weekly e-newsletter, a round-up of the most interesting and pertinent industry news and developments.
  • Whitepapers, eBooks and information from trusted third parties.
Join For Free