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2009 Scientific Report

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Van Andel Research

Van Andel Research Institute | Scientific Report George F. Vande Woude Director’s Introduction The year 2008 was extraordinary for the Van Andel Research Institute, with many of the highlights coming late. On October 1, the Institute celebrated the “topping out” of our Phase II building project with the installation of the topmost beam of the structure. Van Andel staff had a chance to sign the beam before the ceremony and to watch as it was swung aloft and bolted into place. In December, we celebrated the year’s recipients of the Daniel Nathans Award. VARI was pleased to honor Dr. Dennis J. Slamon, of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the firm Genentech for their roles in the development of the cancer therapeutic Herceptin. Dr. Slamon gave a Scientific Lecture entitled “Molecular diversity of human breast cancer: clinical and therapeutic implications”. Dr. Arthur D. Levinson accepted for the many members of Genentech who moved forward the first of the modern-era drugs that target known cancer genes. Dr. Levinson, CEO of Genentech, was one of its champions. He gave a Scientific Lecture entitled “Herceptin: lessons and prospects for the development of individualized cancer therapeutics”. And to start the new year, early in 2009 came the announcement of a new director, Jeff Trent, and a new alliance with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen); more about that below. Personnel Kudos and congratulations go to Craig Webb and Michael Weinreich, who were promoted to Senior Scientific Investigator in September 2008. Craig’s Program of Translational Medicine is developing the infrastructure and biomarkers to bring into practice individualized medical treatment of diseases like cancer, with the expectation of more-effective treatments from this approach. Michael’s Laboratory of Chromosome Replication studies molecules that control or regulate the copying of DNA within a cell and how alterations in the process are related to cancer. Also in September, Steve Triezenberg, the Dean of the VAI Graduate School and head of the Laboratory of Transcriptional Regulation, was named Director of the Van Andel Education Institute, succeeding Gordon Van Harn. Our congratulations to Steve on this new hat to wear. We also congratulate Gordon for his extraordinary contributions in building the Van Andel Education Institute. The past year also brought appointments to Brian Haab, who became a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Proteome Research, and to Bart Williams, who was named to the NIH Skeletal Biology Development and Disease Study Section. 2

VARI | 2009 We continued to receive grant funding from both federal agencies and other funding organizations in 2008. Brian Haab received a three-year R33 award from the National Cancer Institute for his project “Defining Secreted Glycan Alterations in Pancreatic Cancer”. Early in 2008, Cindy Miranti was awarded a three-year DOD grant to study “Mechanisms of KAI1/CD82-Induced Prostate Cancer Metastasis”. One of her students, Laura Lamb, also received a grant for two years for the project “Survival Signaling in Prostate Cancer: Role of Androgen Receptor and Integrins in Regulating Survival”. Brian Cao received 18 months of funding from the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research for his project to “Generate Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs) against Pancreatic Cancer Bio-marker Proteins”. Nicholas Duesbery received two awards, one from the Pardee Foundation for the project “Tumor Endothelial Response to MKK Inhibition”, and another for “Pilot Investigation of the Causes of Hemangiosarcoma in Clumber Spaniels”. The Vande Woude lab received a grant from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for “Met – An Important New Target for Breast Cancer”. Art Alberts, Brian Cao, and Greg Cavey were recipients of grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation during 2008. Bin Teh has been funded to study “Expression Profiling of Renal Cell Carcinoma Utilizing Tissue from CALGB 90206” via the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Craig Webb received funds for three years of work to be done on “The Ivy-Genomics-Based Medicine Project”, via the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Chih-Shia Lee of the Duesbery lab and Tingting Yue of the Haab lab received travel awards from the AACR and the Society for Glycobiology, respectively. Big Changes On February 11, 2009, Van Andel Institute (VAI) announced my retirement from the role of research director. I am proud to have been a part of VAI’s growth and development over the course of ten wonderful years, watching exciting research unfold and getting to know the remarkable people and minds of the Van Andel Institute and the Grand Rapids community. We have built a truly special place, and it is especially gratifying to look at the life sciences construction surrounding the Institute and know that we have inspired a phenomenon that will benefit patients and families in West Michigan and around the world. With extraordinary construction to accommodate the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, the Spectrum Health and St. Mary’s cancer centers, the expansion of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, and our own expansion, it is truly one of the most exciting times for Grand Rapids, the state of Michigan, and our nation. Dr. Jeffrey Trent succeeds me as president and research director while retaining his roles at TGen in Phoenix, Arizona. I have known Dr. Trent professionally for nearly 20 years. We overlapped at NIH, and I have always admired him as one of the nation’s leading scientists. This is a very special moment for both institutions and is the right moment and the right place for their perfect fit to flourish. I will retain my role as head of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology at VAI, achieving a long-held desire to return to the lab full-time. I look forward to being a witness to the Institute’s next phase of growth as we open the Phase II building expansion and deepen our partnership with TGen. 3

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