Van Andel Institute Boosts Research Into Personalized Cancer Therapy

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The Van Andel Institute's Grand Rapids headquarters. Wikimedia Commons Photo.

The Van Andel Institute’s Grand Rapids headquarters. Wikimedia Commons Photo.

GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ) – The Grand Rapids medical research and education institution Van Andel Institute Friday announced a new effort in epigenetics, the science of external modifications to DNA that turn genes on or off.

Van Andel officials said epigenetics is the most significant new area of cancer research, and could lead to new approaches to personalized cancer therapy.

Leading this effort among Van Andel’s partners in the United States and around the world will be Peter A. Jones, director of research and chief scientific officer of the Van Andel Research Institute.

A renowned researcher with more than 40 years’ experience in academia in the field of biomolecular research, Jones’ recent research has focused on how epigenetic therapies might benefit those living with cancer. Jones is developing a consortium of four academic institutions in the U.S. and one abroad to develop epigenetic therapies that can be applied to human beings.

“With the appointment of Dr. Jones, a visionary leader in biomedical research, Van Andel Institute is now a global stronghouse in epigenetics, one of the most significant fields in cancer research,” said David Van Andel, chairman and CEO of the Van Andel Institute. “We are embracing this field of study, extolling epigenetics to a hurting world that is hungry for answers. Paired with our translational research that is speeding the delivery of new therapies from research bench to bedside, establishing an epigenetics hub with Dr. Jones at the helm will impact millions of lives, developing new epigenetic therapies for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.”

Joenes said the VAI would establish a robust epigenetics clinical program and is recruiting outstanding scientists in the field.

The Van Andel Institute was established by Amway co-founder Jay Van Andel and his wife Betty in 1996. Its research arm, the Van Andel Research Institute, conducts research on the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and turning those discoveries into effective therapies. This is accomplished through the work of more than 200 researchers in on-site laboratories and in collaborative partnerships that span the globe.

The institute’s initial laboratory and meeting space of 162,000 square feet opened in 2000. A 240,000-square-foot, eight-story addition opened in 2009.

More at http://www.vai.org.

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