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2004 Scientific Report

Each year we select a

Each year we select a member of the research community to receive the Daniel Nathans Memorial Award, choosing a scientist who has emulated Dr. Nathans’ extraordinary contributions and special character (see page 69). Our most recent recipient was Robert A. Weinberg, who received the award for his pioneering work in cancer research as discoverer of the first human oncogene and the first tumor suppressor gene. Dr. Weinberg visited Grand Rapids on March 8, 2004, to receive the Nathans Award, and he presented two talks, one for the technical audience on mechanisms of human tumor formation, which involved some of his current research on telomerases, and a second that evening for the public titled “How cancer begins.” On May 1, 2004, in collaboration with Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, and the Henry Ford Health System, VARI sponsored a one-day symposium on prostate cancer research. Hosted by the Michigan Prostate Research Colloquium, this symposium, entitled “Basic and Clinical Advances in Prostate Cancer Research,” was designed to bring local science and medical researchers in Michigan together to foster interactions and collaborations. The highlights included the keynote lecture delivered by Dr. Carrie Rinker-Schaeffer from the University of Chicago, who spoke on prostate cancer metastasis, and two speakers from each participating institution who presented their work on prostate cancer. The symposium also provided an opportunity for local physicians to learn about the latest basic and clinical prostate cancer research being conducted in the state. In 1999, legislation was enacted to form the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor (MLSC), which has provided funding via grants for the state’s life sciences efforts. As part of that effort, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and the Van Andel Research Institute joined together to form the Core Technology Alliance (CTA) to provide statewide, cutting-edge core technologies in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, structural biology, and animal models. Funding from the MLSC has enabled these services to grow and is stimulating and strengthening research in the life sciences, which helps to promote the development of a strong biotechnology industry in Michigan. It is anticipated that the core services offered through the CTA will become self-sustaining over time. A peer review in 2003 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science supported that premise and recommended the formation of a corporation to provide business and marketing management expertise for the core services. The CTA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization in March 2004 with the four institutions as founding members. In late 2003, to strengthen ties to other Michigan opportunities, Governor Jennifer Granholm added to the MLSC the automotive industry and bioterrorism initiatives and renamed it the Michigan Technology Tri-Corridor (MTTC). I was appointed to be one of the members of the MTTC Steering Committee. The MTTC is continuing to solicit and fund grant applications in the life sciences. As always, we wish to express our gratitude for the generosity of the Van Andel family. In January 2004, we, as a community, mourned the passing of Betty Van Andel. We are privileged to be a part of turning the vision of Jay and Betty into reality. 6

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