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2015 Scientific Report

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Van Andel Research

Van Andel Research Institute | Scientific Report 2015 Faculty Funding VARI recently added several top-notch faculty to its team, bringing the Institute closer to critical mass. Lorenzo Sempere leads the Laboratory of microRNA Diagnostics and Therapeutics, where he studies the role of microRNA regulatory networks in carcinogenesis. Darren Moore joined VARI as head of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurodegeneration. Work in his lab focuses on the normal biology and pathobiology of gene products related to inherited Parkinson’s disease, such as LRRK2. The Center for Epigenetics has welcomed four researchers. Peter Laird’s Laboratory of Cancer Epigenetics studies DNA methylation, with a focus on developing mouse models for the study of epigenetic mechanisms. Hui Shen heads the Laboratory of Epigenomic Analysis in Human Disease, which uses bioinformatics to study the epigenome and its roles in cancer. In the Laboratory of Epigenetic Pathways in Disease, Gerd Pfeifer leads studies of CpG island hypermethylation in cancer and development. And Piroska Szabó heads the Laboratory of Developmental Reprogramming, which studies the mechanisms for resetting the epigenome between generations and specifically in the context of genomic imprinting. I offer my sincerest thanks to former VARI Professor Dr. Brian Nickoloff, who led the Center for Translational Medicine, and to George Vande Woude, who led the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology prior to our restructuring. I also would like to recognize the Research Leadership Council—Patrik Brundin, George Vande Woude, and Jana Hall—for its excellent stewardship of VARI during the search for a new research director. Each of these individuals has contributed immensely to VARI’s success, and I truly appreciate their hard work. A sample of grant awards to VARI scientists in 2014 includes the following. • A four-year competitive R01 renewal from the NIH to Eric Xu for his study of Structural Genomics of Orphan Nuclear Receptors • A competitive renewal award to Jeff MacKeigan from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation/Michigan Strategic Fund supporting research on tuberous sclerosis complex • A three-part MEDC award to Peter Jones for a Center of Excellence in Epigenetics; Patrik Brundin for comprehensive research into brain disease modification and repair; and Jeff MacKeigan for translational research on tuberous sclerosis complex • A three-year Department of Defense grant to Cindy Miranti for the study of ING4 Loss in Prostate Cancer Progression • Two grants to Patrik Brundin, from the Michael J. Fox Foundation and from the Cure Parkinson’s Trust • A three-year grant to Qian Xie from the Stephen M. Coffman Charitable Trust for her project on Identifying Genomic Signatures and Determinants for MET-Targeted Therapy in Glioblastoma Parting thoughts In 2014, a new chapter started for VARI with our commitment to becoming a global center for epigenetics, a burgeoning frontier in biomedical research. We see great potential to expand the exceptional work already underway at VARI in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Advancements will take shape in many ways, including new collaborations with colleagues around the globe (including collaborations on clinical trials) and an emphasis on strategic recruitment. In short, VARI is poised for significant growth. Our dedication to translating basic research into clinical applications is stronger than ever, and in the coming years we expect to continue making a significant difference for those who matter most—the people affected by the diseases we study. 2

VARI SCIENTIFIC STRUCTURE Center for Epigenetics Center for Cancer and Cell Biology Center for Neurodegenerative Science Core Services 3

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