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The Lab Man: JALA and JBS Guest Editors Add Value/Gain Value

Serving as guest editor for JALA or JBS expands a scientist's areas of expertise, builds upon innate curiosity and develops a professional network that is built on knowledge exchange and mutual respect. Joe Olechno and Jonathan Wingfield found their recent guest editor experiences personally rewarding and well worth their time and effort.

By The Lab Man

(AKA SLAS Director of Education Steve Hamilton, Ph.D.)

Joe Olechno: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Olechno, Ph.D., is senior research fellow at Labcyte (Sunnyvale, CA, USA). He was one of three guest editors of the February 2016 JALA Special Issue on Advancing Scientific Innovation with Acoustic Droplet Ejection.

In a podcast with The Lab Man, Olechno says he was amazed and encouraged by the many ways he learned acoustic droplet ejection is being used "beyond the normal." He highlights two papers that particularly opened his eyes and his mind to enticing applications – those that address the use of ADE in precision medicine from researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden and the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland.

"In the Uppsala work, researchers took cancer cells from patients who had already relapsed following initial cancer treatment," he explains. "They isolated cancer cells and using miniaturized assays were able to test the patients' own cancer cells against over 400 drugs and drug combinations to find out which drug would kill the cancer."

Olechno also discusses his 30-year career – the last 12 in the technology industry at Labcyte. He expresses his surprise when seeing frequent items in the literature about how the latest Ph.D. students can't find jobs. "We're hiring people like crazy. What do you mean you can't get jobs? Well, they mean academic jobs where they think they have more freedom to do independent research. Look at what we've done here with the acoustics work. Having Ph.D.s work for us – they could learn a lot; they could publish a lot. Almost all our scientists have published frequently. I'd like to work with SLAS so that people in academia knew that, so grad students weren't as worried about where they're going to go and that they realize there is a viable option to work in industry and do good solid science.

"Readers will find a lot of interesting research in the special issue," Olechno emphasizes. "We're covering a lot of ground. Our hope is that once readers see what's happening with ADE technology, it will open up their eyes to what's currently possible and motivate them to come up with more new applications." All 22 of the original scientific reports in this special issue are freely available at JALA Online thanks to a generous sponsorship by Labcyte Inc.

Listen to podcast.

Jonathan Wingfield: Mass Spec a Critical Tool in the Toolbox

Wingfield, Ph.D., principal scientist, Discovery Sciences at AstraZeneca (Cambridge, U.K), served as one of two guest editors of the February 2016 JBS Special Issue on Advances in Mass Spectrometry within Drug Discovery.

A trained microbiologist, Wingfield became interested in mass spectrometry (MS) about three to four years ago. "Mass spectrometry is really an exciting potential detection platform that can deliver benefit in the high-throughput screening space. The more I learned, the more I understood, the more I found out about it, the more interested I became in pulling some of those threads together. I thought it would be really useful to put a special edition out there that would help other people potentially understand where mass spectrometry could add value to their areas of research."

Wingfield believes there's an element of mystery and a few myths around mass spectrometry. "One is the idea that MS is a high-tech platform that tends to be operated by specialists. That impression can be a potential barrier that stops people from wanting to use this type of technology. I hope this collection of papers appearing in a rigorously peer-reviewed, mainstream scientific journal will debunk some of these myths and get people interested in the potential of MS."

He says the issue covers a wide range of applications in the mass spectrometry space from routine drug discovery and central applications in ADME-TOX to identification of novel small molecules from natural products and affinity mass spectrometry. "We also engaged with some colleagues who worked in the mass spectrometry imaging space, which is very much a growing area of interest in the mass spectrometry world. There is really some interesting cutting-edge work being done to follow what happens to molecules inside cells or inside of tissues in terms of how they're processed.

"Mass spec is going to be an absolutely critical tool in the toolbox for any drug discovery organization," he says.

Wingfield's 2015 SLAS Innovation Award-winning presentation, "Novel Acoustic Loading of a Mass Spectrometer – Towards Next Generation High-Throughput MS Screening," also is available for free courtesy of Labcyte.

Listen to podcast.

About the Author

The Lab Man is SLAS Education Director Steve Hamilton, Ph.D. He is a creative change maker, delivering the fresh thinking and energy that has helped make SLAS the go-to resource for those in life sciences R&D and technology. After years in the drug discovery world, heading many leading-edge automation projects for companies such as Eli Lilly, Scitec and Amgen, Hamilton joined the SLAS professional team in 2010. He received his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Purdue University and a B.S. in chemistry from Southeast Missouri State University.

March 14, 2016