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SLAS 2019 Advanced 3D Human Models and High-Content Analysis Symposium

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SLAS was pleased to welcome cell biologists, microscopy and imaging buffs, and drug hunters to our fifth annual Advanced 3D Human Models and High-Content Analysis Symposium, held at “The Crick” this past week. Attendees got to tour the impressive facility, take a walking tour of the King’s Cross neighborhood, and enjoy treats from the Crick’s in-house kitchen at multiple small receptions throughout the day.

On to program – we welcomed 22 speakers and more than 20 posters at this year’s event. Highlights included the Keynote address by Prof. Jason Swedlow, FRSE, who addressed a problem he claimed researchers called him about every day: “Help, I’m publishing my paper, and I have no idea where to publish TB worth of imaging data!” Luckily, Swedlow’s group at Dundee has created multiple open-source instrument data formats (OMERO) and repositories for data-sharing (IDR). These now include the first examples of patient imaging data. Researchers and companies alike have benefited from Swedlow’s efforts to “make things just work” from multiple instrument formats to single data standards.

Not to say the whole day revolved around imaging – a fierce contingent of stem cell biologists presented amazing, patient- or safety-inspired models of the heart, lungs, brain, nervous system, intestine, breast, or skin. As lights in the theater dimmed, the audience was treated to high-contrast fluorescence shots of these constructed tissues – calcium gradients flashed, nuclei lit up purple or blue, apoptotic cells shone a dim lime green, and actin / myosin fibrils traced thin blue lines. These phenotypic models of specific disease states were taken further, for example: looking how gene regulation changed based on drug administration or watching recruited immune cells destroy a targeted tumor in real-time.

Throughout the show, multiple groups of people mixed in conversation over a poster, a glass of wine, on a couch in the ample atrium of the Crick. Graduate students mixed with vendor’s technical specialists and pharmaceutical directors with core facility biologists at small universities. We hope that same collaborative spirit persists long enough to welcome these scientists back to our already-scheduled 2020 event. Watch this space and keep an eye out for podcasts and journal articles to emerge from 2019. Thanks from London!

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