Automated arms dispensing precise volumes of colorful liquids; glass encased boxes revealing stacks of plates and tubes moving through their series of pre-programmed steps and robotic jellyfish gracefully gliding through a cylindrical aquarium. These were just a few of the sights on show at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening’s annual meeting.

This year’s SLAS broke attendance records with nearly 6,300 registrants converging on the San Diego Convention Center (not to be confused with the herd of ten-gallon hats and drawls at the Cattle Industry Convention down the hall). While it’s not one of the larger shows in the life science industry, SLAS has become increasingly valuable to those in drug discovery and development looking to improve the efficiency of developing new medicines.

The 2016 expo was full of enough automated gadgets and gizmos to make the most gear-headed of researchers turn green with envy. However, the underlying scientific focus was set firmly on improving and accelerating healthcare, as outlined in the keynote address from Dr. Michael Gottesman, Chief, Laboratory of Cell Biology National Cancer Institute.

The innovations on display were exemplified by the new product award winners. Axion BioSystems took first prize for both their Maestro Apex automated microelectrode array (MEA) platform, linked with a robotic liquid handler and incubator; as well as their Lumos system for in vitro optogenetics leveraging their high-throughput MEA platform with a series of 4 LEDs per well. The two runners-up presented other great instruments you’ll be hearing a lot more about. LabMinds, for their Revo liquid solution production system, and ALVEOLE for their PRIMO multi-protein printing platform.

There were lots of great research, conversations, exhibits, innovations, parties and other special events shared this week in San Diego. We look forward to seeing what the industry can accomplish in the next year and will all be crossing our fingers that Washington DC isn’t buried in snow the first week of February next year.

The force is strong at #slas2016 #formulatrix A photo posted by Chempetitive Group (@chempetitive) on Jan 26, 2016 at 4:58pm PST