Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 (SLAS 2019): 2-6 February 2019

By Dr. Kerryn Matthews, Research Associate, Ma Lab

SLAS2019 was one of the most innovative, relevant and forward-thinking life science and technology research conferences I have attended. The opening plenary session, “Bench to Bedside to Babies”, involved a functional ovary-on-chip to enable young women to have children after chemotherapy, and set the stage for the innovation and application aspect of the conference. Featuring 10 educational tracks, including cellular technology, high definition biotechnology and molecular libraries, the symposium included topics for everyone.

A total of 5,126 scientists and engineers converged at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre in downtown Washington, D.C, where short courses, scientific podium talks, exhibitor tutorials and 5 poster sessions prompted open discussions and networking between attendees. During the symposium, the best innovators competed for a $10,000 USD prize, which was ultimately awarded to Cristian Soitu from the University of Oxford for his talk “Microfluidic Chambers Using Fluid Walls for Cell Biology”. His invention is a simple method with potential for various applications in cell biology and is a great example of what innovation is all about.

The best part of this conference was definitely the exhibition. Over 300 multinational providers of laboratory technology and related products competed to leave us better informed, prepared and positioned to recommend new products, services and tools. It was great competing in the daily multichannel pipetting challenge and finding out some new and novel techniques that I can apply to my own research.

The conference was capped off by the annual celebration which was a fun, relaxed evening at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The food, drinks and time spent hanging out with an elephant named Henry was a night to remember. The walk back to the convention centre also turned out to be exciting as police and secret service shut down Constitution Avenue to allow the US President to drive to the Capitol Building to deliver the State of the Union speech.

Thank you to the CBR for the RA travel award which gave me the opportunity to attend this conference and to interact with students, technicians, engineers and scientists at the forefront of new technologies for research.