SLAS Innovation Award

Mission Statement

The SLAS Innovation Award is a $10,000 cash prize recognizing the work behind that one unique and special podium presentation at the SLAS Annual Conference that proves to be exceedingly innovative and contributes to the exploration of technologies in the laboratory, exceeds a benchmark or milestone in screening or the lead discovery process, or demonstrates an advanced and integrated use of mature technologies.


Listed in alphabetical order, the nine 2016 SLAS Innovation Award finalists selected to compete for the $10,000 cash prize at SLAS2016 are:

Tiffany Chen, Cytobank, Inc and Stanford University
Identifying druggable cells: automated methods for high-content single-cell screening

Shana Kelley, University of Toronto
New devices for the detection and classification of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Jonathan Lin, University of California, Los Angeles
A frequency-multiplexed parallel flow cytometer for high-throughput screening and drug discovery

Elena Molokanova, NTBS, Encinitas, CA
Graphene-based biocompatible optoelectronic platform for light-controlled activation of cardiomyocytes

Sumita Pennathur, University of California, Santa Barbara
Electrokinetic Micro- and Nanofluidic Technologies for Quantitative Detection of Viral Nucleic Acids

Anna Popova, Institute of Toxicology and Genetics (ITG), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Droplet-Microarray Sandwiching Chip as miniaturized pipetting free platform for high throughput screenings of live cells based on superhydrophilic-superhydrophobic surface patterning

Ivan Pushkarsky, University of California, Los Angeles
Elastomeric sensor surfaces for high-throughput phenotypic screening of cellular force generation

Glenn Smith, CryoXtract Instruments
The Application of Automated Frozen Aliquotting Technology to the Bioanalysis of Labile Compounds

Sindy Tang, Stanford University
Droplet microfluidics: amphiphilic nanoparticles as droplet stabilizers for high-fidelity and ultrahigh-throughput droplet assays

What are we looking for?

SLAS is searching for podium presentations from academia, government and industry broadly consisting of innovative advances such as:


The award consists of a $10,000 check presentation to the winning presenting author (see rules and regulations: monetary disbursement). Subject to SLAS requirements and the approval of the SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee, the winning presenting author is also invited to become a member of the judging panel for the next year. Additionally, the winner is granted a complementary one-year membership to SLAS. The award winning work will be featured in an issue of JALA and/or JBS following the conference. From this point forward, the presenting author may also be referred to as the "candidate."

The Panel of Judges

The panel of judges is comprised of individuals approved by the SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee and represents the various technologies and applications within the SLAS Conference curriculum.

The SLAS President only votes to break any ties when all scoring is final. Judges may not have or have had any formal association with the candidates - either direct or indirect. Judges must recuse themselves from evaluating any candidate wherein there exists a relationship such as family, business, financial or other, e.g. academic, student/professional association. Judges must sign a non-conflict of interest certification form ensuring no improper purposes. It is expected that any issues are declared by the judges. The Chair makes the final decision on any questionable issues.

Presentation Evaluation

Selecting the winner of the SLAS Innovation Award is based on a three-tiered evaluation system:

  1. Selection of the SLAS Podium Presentations
    In assembling the program, the Annual Conference Program Committee selects qualifying podium presentations from the abstracts received in response to the Call for Abstracts. To qualify for entry into the SLAS Innovation Award contest, an abstract must be received prior to the Call for Abstracts deadline of Monday, August 3, 2015 and the author must opt-in for consideration using the appropriate check box.
  2. Preliminary Screening
    Working from the conference's selected abstracts, the panel of judges scores all the abstracts thereby identifying the SLAS Innovation Award Finalists for evaluation at the SLAS Annual Conference. The panel of judges reviews only those podium presentations selected and slotted for the conference by the Annual Conference Program Committee. Short course instructors, poster presenters, and plenary speakers* are not eligible unless they have also been accepted into the SLAS2016 Scientific Program. All candidates must adhere to the SLAS Abstract Submission policies, timelines, rules and regulations1.

    Here's how the preliminary screening works:
    The Annual Conference Program Committee selects podium presentations for the SLAS Annual Conference. The judges (not including the SLAS President) are assigned to review and score the abstracts. (See "Scoring" below). The Chair assigns all abstracts for evaluation to the panel of judges. Each of the podium presentations will be scored by a minimum of two judges. Upon completion of the first scoring phase, the Judging Panel will convene by teleconference to select the Top 20 to 25 Candidate presentations. These Top Candidates will be offered the opportunity to submit an extended abstract for review by the panel. An extended abstract is strongly encouraged by the Judging Panel to allow better differentiation of the leading candidates. Failure to submit information in time for the next selection phase will jeopardize the author's chances for inclusion in the finalists.

    Upon completion of this second phase the SLAS Innovation Award Panel of Judges will announce the Innovation Award Finalists to compete for the award at the SLAS Annual Conference.

    Request for Additional Information:
    As part of the preliminary screening process, and in coordination with Chair and panel, a candidate author may be contacted to answer further questions.
  3. Judging of Presentations at the SLAS Annual Conference
    The judging panel will attend and evaluate each of the candidate's presentations and will collectively select the winner of the SLAS Innovation Award. In scoring the presentations the judges will consider the following:
    1. Impact on Laboratory Automation and Screening
      Will this work make a noticeable contribution to the field of Laboratory Automation and Screening? Will it substantially reduce the cost, change the workflow, or improve the quality of laboratory processes? Is the method robust enough to allow routine implementation? Will it have widespread adoption over the next 10 years? Did the presenter explain why he/she was doing the research and who will benefit from this research/technology? Would this advancement only benefit a small group of people, or could it have far reaching/global impact and change laboratory automation as we know it?
    2. Originality/Creativity
      How novel is the approach or solution? Is this work a creative solution to a new problem or a new twist on an old theme? Can this approach be applied to a range of problems or is it limited to one particular case? Is this "me too" science applied to a slightly different problem?
    3. Quality of the Science
      Was the experiment performed properly? Can improvements be made either with the science or the technology? Do the data reflect reaching a fundamental limit? What is the confidence that the result is correct? Are the results repeatable and were the results repeated? Are there better methods to solve the same problem? Did the presenter appropriately report any limitations of the methods? If this work is early in development, are there any major hurdles to overcome prior to widespread success? Does the presenter understand the uncertainty of the measurements/methods?
    4. Oral Presentation
      Was the oral presentation in alignment with the written abstract? Did the presenter explain the key concept(s) well enough so that a well-educated listener could follow his/her main train of thought? Was the presenter able to keep the audience's attention throughout the presentation? Was the presentation well organized with respect to its look-and-feel (e.g., large enough fonts, suitable colors, readable graphics, etc.)? Was the presentation's content organized in a logical manner? Did the presenter answer questions from the audience in a satisfactory manner? Did the presenter provide the correct amount of background material so that the general SLAS audience can understand the subject? Did the audience seem excited by the presentation?


Each candidate presentation will be judged on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best possible score; integers only). There is a maximum of 20 points possible. The scores of all judges will be consolidated for the final decision.

Rules & Regulations

SLAS Innovation Award Timeline Cycle:

  1. 1. The SLAS Innovation Award panel is appointed by and serves at the discretion of the SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee and the SLAS Board of Directors. The SLAS Innovation Award panel of judges will commence activities following the annual timeline below:
    • September — Review of podium abstracts accepted into the SLAS Annual Conference Scientific Program and selection of the Top 20 to 25 SLAS Innovation Award Candidates
    • November — SLAS announces the SLAS Innovation Award Finalists (up to 10)
    • SLAS Annual Conference — Top Finalists' presentations are judged and the selection of the Innovation Award winner is completed
    • February — Media announcements, JALA and JBS follow-up
    • April — Manuscripts due to JALA and JBS for publication
  2. Candidates are encouraged to be members of SLAS to participate in the contest and/or win the SLAS Innovation Award; however, membership is not required.
  3. Once selected, each of the Top 20 to 25 Candidates will have the opportunity to submit an extended abstract in October - exact dates to be determined. The extended abstract will be comprised of no more than two pages, including 2-3 figures of supporting documentation. Upon review of these extended abstracts, the panel will narrow the field to the Innovation Award Finalists, who will compete for the 2016 Innovation Award at the SLAS2016 5th Annual Conference and Exhibition inSan Diego, CA.
  4. In addition, all finalists are asked to submit a previously unpublished scientific manuscript (original research or a related review paper) for peer reviewed publication in JALA or JBS by Monday, April 4, 2016. This manuscript must be received before the $10,000 cash award is disbursed. These requirements will be outlined in the Letter of Intent allowing SLAS to use the abstracts for press releases and other media announcements.
  5. The panel of judges reviews only those podium presentations selected and slotted for the conference by the Annual Conference Program Committee (not short courses, posters, or plenary presentations). All candidates must adhere to the SLAS Abstract Submission policies, timelines, rules and regulations1.
  6. The following list of individuals is not eligible to participate in the SLAS Innovation Award program: SLAS Board of Directors, SLAS Awards and Grants Advisory Committee, officers, the Annual Conference Program Committee*, contractors, employees, members of the Judging Panel, family members, and/or those considered to be "insiders." Candidates affiliated with anyone on the Judging Panel are permitted to participate, but the Judge must recuse him or herself from evaluating that particular candidate.

    * The Annual Conference Program Committee comprises of a Chairman, Associate Chairman, Track Chairs and Associate Track Chairs. Session Chairs are not members of the Annual Conference Program Committee, and therefore are eligible to participate.
  7. Monetary disbursement — the winner of the $10,000 cash prize will be announced on the final day of the SLAS conference and exhibition during the final plenary session. The following rules apply:
    • The candidate presentation author, a co-author, or a representative must be present to accept the award at the final plenary session. In the event that a representative is not present, the Innovation Award will be forfeited.
    • The $10,000 cash prize is awarded solely to the winning presenting author and will be sent to the winner upon receipt of their manuscript, see #4 above.
    • Once selected, the Innovation Award Finalists must sign the SLAS Letter of Intent recognizing sole responsibility for the cash award and releasing SLAS of liability, taxes, candidate employer policies, and any other obligations.
    • In recognition of the varying employer policies governing employee acceptance of monetary prizes, those employer policies will be recognized and honored by SLAS to the extent they are not inconsistent with and do not conflict with SLAS policy and/or GAAP. However, SLAS will not be responsible or liable for said policies. Winners have the option to decline the monetary award.
    • The monetary award is not to be considered an obligation of SLAS.

Non-Discrimination Statement

Discrimination based on race, religion, gender, age, national origin, ethnicity, veterans status, or disability in regard to the SLAS Innovation Award is prohibited. Each candidate shall be evaluated based on the award's criteria which are tied to SLAS's exempt purpose of advancing the science and education of technologies in the laboratory.

1Abstract Submission Policy

SLAS invites academicians, scientists, and post-doctoral and graduate students to submit abstracts for scientific talks and poster presentations for this international educational forum by Monday, August 3, 2015. Presentations will be hand-picked by the Annual Conference Program Committee. Details regarding abstract submission can be found here.

In order to ensure that your abstract receives proper consideration for this award, please be sure to include information on methods, results and conclusions in your submitted abstract.

  1. Rules, regulations and guidelines are subject to change at the discretion of the SLAS Board of Directors in accordance with bylaws, polices, and procedures.

* Plenary speakers are not eligible to submit their plenary talk for consideration for the Innovation Award. However, those individuals giving a plenary talk may also choose to submit an abstract to be considered for the SLAS2016 Scientific Program and to be considered for the Innovation Award upon acceptance into the program.