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2007 Annual Report

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A Letter from George

A Letter from George Vande Woude, Ph.D. Van Andel Research Institute Director Van Andel Institute’s Phase II building expansion is underway and exciting for many reasons, but most importantly, the expansion will provide more research labs to continue to expand our research footprint in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the United States and the world. In this report, you’ll read about the research already taking place today at the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) labs and about some of the accomplishments in 2007. Every day, we increase our understanding of the complex activity and interaction of molecules and metabolites at work in the cells that make up our bodies, what goes wrong in the case of disease, and how we can use our knowledge to help patients. Our research would not be possible without funding, and the success we have had in the tight competition for grant funding is an important measure of the quality of our research. In 2007, our researchers received several prestigious R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. Steve Treizenberg received a three-year R01 award, Dr. Bart Williams received a five-year R01 award, and Dr. Eric Xu received a four-year R01. It is important to note that Dr. Xu now has three active R01 grants. Dr. Kate Eisenmann, Dr. Carrie Graveel, and Dr. Jim Resau received grants from the Department of Defense (DOD) Breast Cancer Research Program; out of more than 1200 proposals reviewed, only 87 projects were recommended for funding. Dr. Eisenmann, Laura Lamb, and Dr. Cindy Miranti also received grants from the DOD Prostate and Ovarian Cancer Program. Our many collaborative scientific projects now span the globe and are another measure of our success as we establish tight links with scientists and research Van Andel Research Institute conducts basic and translational research into the genetic and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson disease, and other threats to human health, working to translate discoveries into therapies that will one day conquer illness and enhance lives. Van Andel Research Institute

programs around the world. We are pleased to announce the formation of VARI International, headed by Dr. Bin Tean Teh. VARI International was formed to organize and formalize the Institute’s international opportunities. Currently, two laboratories with foreign host institutes are in operation. New in 2007 was the formation of the National Cancer Centre of Singapore (NCCS)–VARI Translational Research Laboratory (headed by Dr. Teh). The NCCS–VARI laboratory is focusing on translational research on cancers that are prevalent in Asian countries. The Nanjing Medical University (NMU)– VARI Antibody Technology Laboratory (headed by Dr. Brian Cao), established in 2005, continues its work in the development of a variety of murine and human monoclonal antibodies and antibody fragments for potential clinical diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Cancer Immunodiagnostics. Dr. Haab was promoted to Senior Scientific Investigator in August, and elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Human Proteome Organization. Finally, in the fall we presented the Daniel Nathans Memorial Award to Harald zur Hausen and Douglas R. Lowy. Dr. zur Hausen’s lab identified infection by papillomavirus as the main cause of cervical cancer, and Dr. Lowy’s studies were instrumental in developing a new way to prepare vaccines that prevent infection by the virus. The importance of this work in terms of improving human health worldwide is obvious, and we are pleased to have these distinguished researchers join the list of Nathans Award recipients. The Program of Translational Medicine under the direction of Dr. Craig Webb has established the essential infrastructure and partnerships that allow VARI to collaborate with other institutions that will engage in exploiting our cutting edge biomarker-driven clinical research. In 2007, this led to the development of a specific, personalized medicine protocol, in which genomic technologies are being used in conjunction with the powerful biomarker software package developed by Dr. Webb and colleagues to identify drug combinations to target the cancer proteins in tumors from late stage cancer patients. Congratulations go out to Dr. Brian Haab, who heads the Laboratory of Research at VARI has implications for many different diseases, including: Clearly, we have much to be proud of and have cemented Van Andel Institute’s reputation in the international research community since we opened our doors in 2000. When we open the doors to Phase II at the end of 2009, we anticipate having an even greater impact. George Vande Woude, Ph.D. Van Andel Research Institute Director VARI Director www.vai.org 07

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