SBS and ALA Set to Come Together as New Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening
For most of the past two years, the leaders of the Society for Biomolecular Sciences (SBS) and the Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA) have been strategizing a merger to unite their scientific societies as one inclusive organization — the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS). As of May 5, 2010, both memberships officially authorized the merger with more than 95 percent of the votes cast in favor.
The Inspectors for the proxy voting process reported that SBS and ALA exceeded quorum requirements by 124 percent and 218 percent, respectively, and certified the results as valid. The SBS Inspector was the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP Washington, DC. The ALA Inspector was the law firm of Gaido & Fintzen, Chicago, IL.
SBS and ALA will now unite as individual Sections of SLAS. Each Section will continue to pursue their current mission while collectively addressing the SLAS mission, which is to provide forums for education and information exchange to encourage the study of and improve the science and practice of laboratory automation and screening.
Under the SLAS umbrella, the SBS and ALA Sections each will preserve SBS’s and ALA’s former identities and specialized educational pursuits. In addition, both will benefit from the expanded scope, international influence, and enhanced program and service offerings that the unified organization, SLAS, will provide.
Inaugural SLAS President Michelle Palmer, Ph.D., Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, said “SLAS will become the premier international community dedicated to advancing scientific research and discovery through laboratory automation and screening technology.”
“We are extremely excited and gratified that the members of both SBS and ALA supported the merger so enthusiastically,” added Palmer. “We will celebrate today — and then get to work tomorrow. We are now faced with one of the most important steps in the evolution of our organizations. Our current objective is to bring the two organizations together over a transition period of about a year. And, of course, we will be looking for members to join us and contribute as volunteers on many of the new SLAS committees and working groups.”
Palmer also said “the transition phase will take place throughout 2011, with SLAS supporting two annual conferences, one representing the original SBS Section and another representing the original ALA Section. Planned symposia, journals and virtual services will continue. During this transition period, the new SLAS Board of Directors, together with the leadership of the SBS and ALA Sections, will be working to develop and unveil a longer range strategy and educational vision for all activities under the SLAS umbrella.”
According to SLAS Chief Executive Officer Greg Dummer, there is much on the horizon in the near term. “We will laser-in on the fundamentals of organizational transition throughout the next year to ensure the members of both organizations feel welcome in their new society, and continue to receive valued member benefits and services,” said Dummer. “Our objective right now is to be ready for business as a united new entity sometime later this year. With the traditional SBS and ALA conferences and exhibitions set for the first quarter of 2011, we have to maintain a high level of focus and determination; and we must look to appropriately blend some aspects of SLAS into each of these events.”
Dummer reiterated that the transition process will follow through as planned and presented on the merger Web site (http://sbs-alamerger.org/index.cfm), which includes information regarding ongoing services, office logistics and personnel decisions. From an educational content standpoint, Dummer said that both scientific journals — Journal for Biomolecular Screening (JBS) and Journal of the Association for Laboratory Automation (JALA) — will continue their publishing schedules; and that immediate short-term educational programming includes:
• 2010 ELRIG Drug Discovery Conference & Exhibition, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom, August 31; Biomolecular Sciences Section Short Courses
• Introduction to Biomarkers and Their Utilization in Pharmaceutical Science, Virtual Course Series, September 9-30; Biomolecular Sciences Section
• Advanced Applications Across Academia, Government & Industry, Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA, October 18-19; Biomolecular Sciences Section
• Innovation in Drug Discovery: Science and Technology, Pudong Shangri-La Hotel, Shanghai, China, December 7-9; Biomolecular Sciences Section
• LabAutomation2011 Conference & Exhibition, Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA, USA, January 27-February 2
• 25th Chemtech World Expo 2011, Bombay Exposition Centre, Mumbai, India, February 23-27; Laboratory Automation Section Courses
• SBS 2011 Annual Conference & Exhibition, Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Orlando, FL, March 27-31
Dummer also noted that, later this year, members will notice two new enhancements as a result of the merger: a unique, cutting-edge provision for membership-by-contribution, and a robust internship program to help develop emerging scientific talent in the field of laboratory automation and screening.