The Faces of Luminex: Jackie Surls, Assay Development

October 11th, 2019 / Molly Frazier

When Luminex decided to start a custom assay development service, we knew who would be a natural fit—Jackie Surls, a scientist with a gift for building assays. As a Development and Applications Scientist, Jackie works with a team of talented researchers to design customer-requested xMAP® Technology assays, and provides guidance to customers who need feedback on their projects. She earned her PhD in molecular biology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and her BS in biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The Faces of Luminex: Jackie Surls, Assay Development

Q: What are your responsibilities at Luminex?

A: We have customers and partners with specialized needs in designing and developing their customized assays. I provide support, either by responding to a request for a custom assay and developing it in-house, or by guiding them through the process to develop a working assay. I also look for areas where we can apply xMAP Technology to help customers streamline their workflow.

Q: What did you do before this job?

A: I was working at another biotech company—a provider of premier clinical microbiology and women’s health products that was interested in going molecular. I built out a BSL-II lab and developed their molecular product line. Some of the molecular tests I designed and developed were for arbovirus testing, antibiotic drug resistance testing, and plant pathogens. Prior to that, I spent two years as a scientist here at Luminex.

Q: What drew you to Luminex in the first place?

A: I used xMAP Technology quite a bit in grad school. I was studying cytokine secretions using ELISAs until my PI asked that I move our entire workflow onto xMAP Technology. It was frustrating at the time because I had to redo two years’ worth of work, but it ended up only taking one week and produced better results. The data corroborated my ELISAs with better sensitivity. When I had the opportunity to join Luminex, I was a little starstruck because I was so impressed by the technology.

Q: If you weren’t a development and applications scientist at Luminex, where would you be?

A: If I weren’t a scientist, I would probably be a sci-fi author writing about science. That’s how much I love biology.

Q: If you could solve any clinical or genetic challenge, what would it be?

A: That would be systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE. It hits close to home because I have many family members afflicted by this disease. It would make my day if I could wave a magic wand and make SLE go away.

Q: What is something about you that no one at Luminex knows?

A: I am a ham radio-licensed operator. I took my general technician exam and have my own call sign, KI5EID. Every now and then I pop on the radio to see who’s around. You never know who you’re going to meet, which is part of the fun. We call it ragchewing, just talking about whatever.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Austin on the weekend?

A: I love trying local restaurants, especially ones with Korean food. I’m always surprised to find the tastiest food in the most unlikely places.

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