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2015 Scientific Report

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Van Andel Research

Van Andel Research Institute | Scientific Report 2015 Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. Laboratory of Epigenetic Therapies Dr. Jones was born in South Africa, was raised and attended college in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and received his Ph.D. from the University of London. He joined the University of Southern California in 1977, attaining the rank of professor in 1985 and distinguished professor in 1999, and serving as director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center between 1993 and 2011. His laboratory discovered the effects of 5-azacytidine on DNA methylation and linked this process to the activation of silenced genes. He shared with Stephen Baylin the Kirk A. Landon Award for Basic Cancer Research from AACR in 2009 and the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society in 2011. Dr. Jones joined VARI in 2014 as its Research Director, Chief Scientific Officer, and Director of the Center for Epigenetics. Research Interests Epigenetics may be defined as mitotically heritable changes in gene expression that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence itself. Epigenetic processes establish the differentiated state of cells and govern how genes are used to allow organs and cells to function correctly and inherit their properties through cell division. In the case of diseases such as cancer, these processes can go wrong, changing the behavior of cells to adverse effect. Importantly, many of these changes are potentially reversible by treatment with appropriate drugs. Because epigenetic processes are at the root of biology, they have implications in all of human development and disease. Our laboratory studies the mechanisms by which epigenetic processes become misregulated in cancer and contribute to the disease phenotype. We focus on the role of DNA methylation in controlling the expression of genes during normal development and in cancer. Our work has shifted to a holistic approach in which we are interested in the interactions between processes such as DNA methylation, histone modification, and nucleosomal positioning in the epigenome, and we want to determine how mutations in the genes which modify the epigenome contribute to the cancer phenotype. We have had a long-term interest in the mechanism of action of DNA methylation inhibitors, both in the lab and in the clinic. We are working with several major institutions to bring epigenetic therapies to the forefront of cancer medicine. Research Publications Taberlay, Phillippa C., Aaron L. Statham, Theresa K. Kelly, Susan J. Clark, and Peter A. Jones. 2014. Reconfiguration of nucleosome-depleted regions at distal regulatory elements accompanies DNA methylation of enhancers and insulators in cancer. Genome Research 24(9): 1421–1432. Yang, Xiaojing, Han Han, Daniel D. De Carvalho, Fides D. Lay, Peter A. Jones, and Gangning Liang. 2014. Gene body methylation can alter gene expression and is a therapeutic target in cancer. Cancer Cell 26(4): 577–590. Staff Minmin Liu, Ph.D. Hitoshi Otani, Ph.D. Anthony Popkie, Ph.D. 48

Stefan Jovinge, M.D., Ph.D. Laboratory of Cardiovascular Research Dr. Jovinge received his M.D. (1991) and his Ph.D. (1997) at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He served as a research fellow at Cedars-Sinai Hospital UCLA (1997–1999). After completing his internship, residencies, and fellowships, he become a critical care cardiologist. Dr. Jovinge was the medical director of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Scania University Hospital, Lund, Sweden (2008–2012). Since December 31, 2013, he has been a critical care cardiologist at Spectrum Health and the Medical Director of Research at the Fred Meijer Heart and Vascular Institute. He also is Director of the DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program. Dr. Jovinge serves as a Professor at Michigan State University and at VARI, and he holds the Chair in Regenerative Cardiology at Lund University. From left: Jovinge, Ellis, Neering, Tarnawski, Davidson, Dylewski, Eugster Staff Paula Davidson, M.S. Dawna Dylewski, B.S. Ellen Ellis Emily Eugster, M.S. Sarah Neering, M.S. Laura Tarnawski, M.S. 49

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