11 months ago

2016 Scientific Report

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VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE had strong growth and progress in the past year. Most recently, in February 2016, Eric Xu was selected by The Protein Society for its prestigious Hans Neurath Award, which is presented to "individuals who have made a recent contribution of exceptional merit to basic protein research". The basis for this award was the July 2015 article in Nature titled “Crystal structure of rhodopsin bound to arrestin determined by femtosecond X-ray laser”. This project involved many international collaborators and an intense effort by VARI's Xu and Melcher labs, and it produced a major advance in the field of G protein–coupled receptors. We congratulate Eric on this well-deserved honor. We at VARI are pleased at this recognition and proud to be his colleagues and collaborators. Beyond that award-winning paper, our faculty had excellent publications success in 2015. Three articles were selected as Notable Advances of 2015 by Nature Medicine: one on heart cell regeneration coauthored by Stefan Jovinge published in Cell, and two others in Cell on the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-azacitidine, which stimulates an immune-like inflammatory response in hindering tumor growth, coauthored by Peter Jones and by Stephen Baylin. Peter Laird and Hui Shen were coauthors on a series of papers published in Cell and the New England Journal of Medicine coming out of work by the Cancer Genome Atlas Network. Scott Jewell coauthored several papers in Science resulting from his deep involvement in the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project. And, Karsten Melcher and Eric Xu were coauthors of a second Nature paper on signaling by the plant hormone jasmonate. We look forward to continuing this strong record of publication in the best scientific journals. FACULTY In 2015 the Center for Epigenetics welcomed Scott Rothbart, who will focus on understanding how histone post-translational modifications and DNA methylation work together to orchestrate the dynamic functions associated with chromatin. The Center was also joined part-time by Stephen Baylin, who is co-leader of the VARI-SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team. He will continue his primary appointment at Johns Hopkins and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Joining the Center for Neurodegenerative Science in 2015 was Gerhard Coetzee. Dr. Coetzee will use his expertise with GWAS to uncover the roles of genetic risk variants in Parkinson’s disease. Early in 2016, Dr. Jeffrey Kordower, of Rush University Medical Center, began a part-time appointment at VARI and will continue his collaboration with Patrik Brundin. Also in early 2016, Viviane Labrie arrived at VARI, and she will pursue her studies of the role of epigenetics in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Patrick Grohar joined the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology in July 2015. His research and clinical work is on Ewing sarcoma, a type of tumor that can occur in bone or soft tissue. 1

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