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On the Road with SLAS CEO

About this Blog

This blog chronicles my travels as CEO of SLAS, a global professional society dedicated to advancing life sciences discovery and technology. In addition to getting to know me better on a personal level, my goal for this blog is to shine a spotlight on SLAS members and their unique stories and experiences. Opinions expressed within this blog are mine (Vicki Loise) and do not represent those of the Society. And yes, our lawyer told me to include that.

September 5, 2017 — Madison, Wisconsin, USA

First Stop

About the Trip

Miles logged on this trip: 276

Planes, trains or automobiles?: Automobile — my VW Passat

Road food: Grande Pumpkin Spice latte

Podcasts: Two episodes of The Axe Files and one of The New Yorker Radio Hour

This is the first of what I hope will be a (somewhat) regular blog chronicling my travels as SLAS CEO. It looks like I'll log more than 100,000 miles in 2017 — my first year as your CEO. Never fear! I have traveled like this in the past and I think I’ve figured out how to make the best of it. Also, my suitcase packing skills are outstanding.

As suggested by the SLAS Board of Directors, I began making visits to SLAS members and vendor partners to learn about your goals and objectives, as well as your challenges. In the process, I hope to expand my knowledge of the SLAS community and how the Society might help you meet challenges and business objectives. My first stop was at Promega headquarters in Madison, WI. There was nothing preferential here other than Madison is just over a two-hour drive from where I live in Chicago. Frank Fan, Director of Research Integrated Biology and longtime SLAS member and volunteer; Randy Dimond, VP and CTO; Tom Livelli, VP Life Sciences Products and Services; and Janet White, Director of Marketing Global, Cellular Analysis & Proteomics were my gracious hosts. Promega has a beautiful campus that looks nothing like what you would expect of a typical biosciences headquarters. The buildings are spread out over rolling Wisconsin hills, with ample green space and serene views. And inside is just as warm and welcoming. Founder and CEO Bill Linton has made it a priority to use space creatively and incorporate as much local, natural materials as possible.

One of the first things I realized during this visit was how truly aligned SLAS and Promega are. Similar to SLAS, Promega is working at the intersection of discovery and technology by continually innovating and providing customers with leading-edge products and applications for drug development, diagnostics and protein analysis. They grow and evolve their business by creating customized solutions for their customers. They are seen as partners by their customers, not just as a vendor.

Vicky image We feel the same way at SLAS. Our corporate supporters are much more to us than a source of revenue. We want to continue to be a place where companies working in life sciences technology and discovery can do business and find solutions. While talking with Frank, Randy, Tom and Janet, I learned what is important to them when attending a conference and what would compel them to engage with SLAS beyond just our events. We also shared productive brainstorming around how to increase the value and activity levels of SLAS’s Special Interest Groups. The idea we batted around was SIGs would be commissioned to address only the hottest issues in scientific discovery and technology. And, each SIG would have to make a case on an annual basis to continue, demonstrating their topic is still a hot issue. What do you think of this idea? I really do want to hear your thoughts on this or anything SLAS. Email me at

And finally, take a look at this picture. It was taken during my tour of the Promega facilities, standing in front of one of the custom-made pieces of art in the buildings. This painting represents the Living Wall that exists in the headquarters building. What makes this painting so unusual is that it is a one-dimensional painting on a wall. It is so cleverly done that until you are standing right up next to it, it appears to be a 3D representation coming out of the wall.

Next up, SLAS's High-Content Screening (HCS) meeting in Madrid, Spain.