2024’s Newest SLAS Innovation Award Winner

A Breakthrough in Pathogen Detection

In an inspiring showcase of innovation and scientific excellence, the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) announced the winner of the highly anticipated 2024 SLAS Innovation Award, sponsored by HighRes Biosolutions. This year, the accolade was bestowed upon an exceptional young scientist, Jongwon Lim, a Ph.D. student from the University of Illinois Department of Bioengineering. Lim’s groundbreaking research, focused on the rapid and ultra-sensitive identification of pathogenic DNA in blood using a novel blood drying technique, has set a new precedent in the realm of precision medicine and diagnostics.

The SLAS Innovation Award, renowned for recognizing outstanding achievements in the development of technologies with significant impact on laboratory automation, screening, and drug discovery, includes a $10,000 prize, highlighting laboratory automation and the importance of innovative research in advancing healthcare and scientific understanding. Lim’s work was among nine exemplary finalists, each contributing novel approaches and technologies across various scientific tracks, from AI in biomedicine to novel therapeutics and diagnostics platforms.

Lim’s presentation, titled “Rapid and Ultra-sensitive Identification of Pathogenic DNA in Blood Using a Novel Blood Drying Technique,” delivered on February 6, 2024, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, captivated the audience with its innovative approach to pathogen detection. Lim’s work leverages insights from two foundational papers, bolstered by newly collected data, to offer a faster, more sensitive method of identifying pathogenic DNA, a critical advancement in the diagnosis and management of infectious diseases.

What sets Lim apart, aside from his pioneering research, is his status as one of only two student finalists, competing against a field of seasoned professors and post-doctoral fellows. This distinction underscores the impact and importance of nurturing young talent within the scientific community, highlighting the commitment of both SLAS and HighRes Biosolutions to fostering innovation in automated workflows across every area of the life sciences.

As part of his award, Lim is invited to join the SLAS Innovation Award judging panel and the Program Committee for next year’s conference, offering him a unique opportunity to shape the future of the SLAS conference and contribute to ongoing scientific discourse. Additionally, his work will be featured in an upcoming issue of SLAS Technology or SLAS Discovery, further amplifying the reach and impact of his important work.

Lim’s achievement not only marks a significant milestone in his burgeoning career but also signifies our ongoing dedication to innovation and advancement in science. Lim’s work exemplifies the spirit of the SLAS Innovation Award, showcasing the profound potential of integrating novel technologies in the laboratory to address complex challenges in healthcare and beyond.

For those interested in learning more about Lim’s research and the SLAS 2024 conference, further details can be found at www.slas.org/2024. As the scientific community continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, it is clear that the future of laboratory science and automation is bright.

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