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2018 Scientific Report

  • Text
  • Institute
  • Biology
  • Methylation
  • Molecular
  • Mechanisms
  • Epigenetic
  • Michigan
  • Vari
  • Scientific

Introduction (cont.)

Introduction (cont.) Grant funding hit an all-time high in 2017 with 32 new awards totaling over million. FUNDING GROWTH Our growth also is reflected in grant funding, which hit an all-time high in 2017 with 32 new awards totaling over million. Of these, 13 were peer-reviewed federal awards accounting for over million. These funds will support a plethora of basic and translational research endeavors aimed at making life-changing advances. Of note, VARI had the second highest growth in grant funding over 2016- 2017 among 72 comparable independent research institutes. On the clinical front, we are thrilled that Van Andel Research Institute–Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team scientists received two of the ten inaugural SU2C Catalyst awards, which pair Dream Teams with industry support. Totaling nearly .5 million, these funds will fuel new, collaborative clinical trials designed to evaluate powerful epigenetic and immunotherapy drug combinations as potential cancer treatments. One grant is funded by Merck & Co. against non-small-cell lung cancer, one of the most common and deadly types of cancer, and the second is funded by Genentech against bladder cancer, a disease that claims thousands of lives annually. Among the major National Institutes of Health awards were a seven-year R35/ Outstanding Investigator Award from NIH/NCI to Peter Jones; to Patrik Brundin, an R01 from NIH/NIDCD, an R21 from NIH/NINDS, and a Department of Defense award; to Scott Rothbart, an R35/Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from NIH/ NIGMS; to Peter Laird, an R01 from NIH/NCI; to Darren Moore, an R01 from NIH/ NINDS; to Ning Wu, an R01 from NIH/NCI; to Huilin Li, an R01 from NIH/NIGMS; and to Jiyan Ma, an R21 from NIH/NINDS. Several of VARI’s postdoctoral fellows and graduate students also received funding in 2017. Xi Chen, of the Moore laboratory, now has a fellowship from the Parkinson’s Foundation supporting her studies into a new model for familial Parkinson’s disease. An Phu Tran Nguyen and Md Shariful Islam, also in the Moore Lab, received grants from the American Parkinson’s Disease Association. VARI Fellow Xiaotian Zhang was the recipient of an American Society of Hematology Fellow Scholar Award in basic and translational research—the first ASH fellowship to a VARI scientist—and Rochelle Tiedemann, of the Jones and Rothbart labs, received the Institute’s first American Cancer Society fellowship. Nicole Vander Schaaf, a graduate student in the Laird lab, received an F31 predoctoral training fellowship from the National Institutes of Health for her project, “The role of polycomb target gene DNA methylation in intestinal tumorigenesis.” F31 grants are highly competitive fellowships that support promising graduate students as they work on their dissertations. Nicole is our first graduate student to be awarded an F31. 2 | VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE SCIENTIFIC REPORT

By harnessing new knowledge born out of revolutionary scientific innovation and technology and working together against disease, we can—and will—change human health for the better. AWARDS AND SYMPOSIA VARI’s Chief Scientific Officer Peter Jones was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April, and Stephen Baylin was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in May. Congratulations to both! In May, the Institute presented U.S. Rep. Fred Upton with a Legislative Champion Award on behalf of the Association for Independent Research Institutes (AIRI). Upton, along with U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, spearheaded the 21 st Century Cures Act, which passed with bipartisan support and infused more than billion in new funding to the National Institutes of Health. VARI hosted several scientific symposia in 2017. Among those events were “Osteoporosis: An Impending Public Health Crisis”; “New Frontiers in Cancer Metabolism”; “Frontiers in Reproductive Epigenetics”; “Origins of Cancer”; “A Celebration of the Cryo-EM Revolution"; and “Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease” and its parallel patient meeting, “Rallying to the Challenge”. We also held the second “Epigenomics at VARI” graduate student workshop during the summer. A BRIGHT TOMORROW As we move into the future, we do so with a renewed commitment to improving human health through rigorous science. This mission is an urgent one: as the world’s population continues to grow and age, the incidence of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases also are slated to rise. Improved preventative strategies, diagnostic techniques, treatments, and—ultimately—cures are desperately needed for the millions around the world who face these diseases today or who will face them tomorrow. The past decade has encompassed a scientific renaissance of sorts, one that can be seen in research organizations around the world, including VARI. By harnessing new knowledge born out of revolutionary scientific innovation and technology and working together against disease, we can—and will—change human health for the better. VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE SCIENTIFIC REPORT | 3

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