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2015 Winter Highlights of Hope

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WINTER 2015 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE’S HIGHLIGHTSof HOPE NIH Selects Van Andel Research Institute’s Biorepository as an Integral Player in Large-Scale Cancer Study Ralliers discuss clinical trials Parkinson’s Advocates and Experts Converge at VARI More than 300 scientists, people with Parkinson’s, advocates and industry representatives converged at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) at the end of September with a common goal—fighting back against Parkinson’s disease. “Grand Challenges and Rallying to the Challenge are wonderful gatherings of some of the brightest minds in Parkinson’s research and advocacy,” said Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., director of VARI’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science. “A gathering this size of scientists and stakeholders is important because we have greater potential to find new therapies and impact more lives when we work together.” The two-day Grand Challenges symposium included presentations by scientists from around the world that focused on alpha-synuclein, a protein involved in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Tom Isaacs, Dr. Patrik Brundin and Anders M. Leines Unlocking the secrets behind alphasynuclein’s normal function, its role in Parkinson’s, and how it spreads in the body may lead to new biomarkers and treatment options. Rallying to the Challenge For the second year, VARI, along with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and its Parkinson’s Movement initiative, hosted Rallying to the Challenge, a parallel meeting with Grand Challenges. The meeting provides a forum for the Parkinson’s community to discuss how they can impact and accelerate research. This year, Ralliers discussed the best ways to measure symptoms and therapeutic outcomes via the introduction of new technology and personalized patient-centric measures into Parkinson’s clinical trials. They also addressed how to improve communication between those taking part in and those running clinical trials. This is Parkinson’s and Brain Storms A photography exhibit aimed at giving the image of Parkinson’s “a serious overhaul” made its international debut at Grand Challenges. This is Parkinson’s, by Norwegian video journalist and young onset Parkinson's patient Anders M. Leines, challenges stereotypical depictions of people with Parkinson’s through a collection of vivid photographs of people under age 50 with young onset Parkinson’s. The emotional images capture people with Parkinson’s as individuals that are empowered and full of life. Attendees also had the opportunity to meet award-winning journalist Dr. Jon Palfreman, author of the new book Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease. Part history, part scientific detective story and part selfreflection, Brain Storms takes the reader into the lives of advocates, scientists, physicians and, most importantly, people with Parkinson’s who are all fighting for a cure. Van Andel Research Institute’s (VARI) Biorepository has been selected as a Biospecimen Core Resource by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a federal project aimed at better understanding the molecular basis of cancer. The project, the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC), is a multi-institutional effort dedicated to improving the understanding of cancer biology though genomic and proteomic analysis, and providing scientists with needed information to design the next generation of cancer therapies. CPTAC is supported by the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI), and is comprised of more than 30 organizations in the U.S. and abroad. CPTAC plans to collect 200 samples each from 10 tumor types, including lung, pancreas, brain, bone, skin and blood cancers. After VARI’s Biorepository processes the samples, other organizations that have been designated as characterization centers will map each sample’s genome (genetic makeup) and its proteome (protein makeup). VARI Enjoys Growing Profile The designation of VARI’s Biorepository’s as CPTAC’s Biospecimen Core Resource is the Meghan Hodges uses one of VARI's Biorepository's technologies latest in a series of high-profile awards for the Institute. In addition to being accredited by the College of American Pathologists, VARI’s Biorepository also is a Comprehensive Biospecimen Resource for NCI’s Biorepository and Biospecimen Research Branch and NIH’s Genotype- Tissue Expression (GTEx) project. It provides biobanking and biospecimen processing for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s CoMMpass study and, beginning this year, the Biorespository also serves as the national biobank for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. Thank you to our gracious sponsors who made these events possible! The next Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease will be held Sept. 26–27, 2016. For more information, please visit Research reported in this article was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number HHSN261201500055C. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. 4 | Van Andel Institute Highlights of Hope Van Andel Institute Highlights of Hope | 5

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