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Van Andel Institute Establishes Global Epigenetics Research Hub

Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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Institute announces the establishment of a global epigenetics research hub, tapping into a hot-button research topic responsible for new and innovative approaches to personalized cancer therapy.

Epigenetics is widely regarded as the most significant new area of cancer research; it is the study of heritable changes in gene activity which are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence. The term epigenetics literally means “above” or “on top of” genetics, referring to external modifications to DNA that can turn genes “on” or “off.”

Leading this effort is Peter A. Jones Ph.D., D.Sc., Director of Research, Chief Scientific Officer of Van Andel Research Institute. Dr. Jones is a renowned researcher with more than 40 years’ experience in academia in the field of biomolecular research. Dr. Jones’ recent research has focused on epigenetics and how epigenetic therapies might benefit those living with cancer. He is based in the global headquarters of Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is driving the focus of epigenetic research among the Institute’s research partners in the U.S., U.K., Europe, Asia and around the world.

Dr. Jones’ aggressive blueprint for progress includes developing a consortium of five academic institutions – four in the U.S. and one abroad – which will carry on the work of developing epigenetic therapies that can be applied to human beings. The concept of collaboration plays a primary role in Dr. Jones’ strategy of creating a focus on epigenetics at the Institute. It is a notion that Dr. Jones has cultivated throughout his career, working alongside diverse teams of researchers, geneticists, chemists, oncologists, surgeons and assorted specialists.

“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, Van Andel Institute. “We are embracing this field of study, and will extol epigenetics to a hurting world that is hungry for answers. At Van Andel Institute, we bank on sound science that precedes us, and embrace others who share our vision, and that includes ‘disruptors’ who are not afraid to say that we are impatient for new breakthroughs. Paired with our translational research that is speeding the delivery of new therapies from research bench to bedside, the establishment of an epigenetics hub with Dr. Jones at the helm will impact millions of lives, developing new epigenetic therapies for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.”

Dr. Jones plans to bolster the Institute’s impressive research portfolio in cancer, neurodegenerative and other diseases as he continues his translational research in epigenetics. “Van Andel Institute is dedicated to changing the course of biomedical research and as I lead our new epigenetics hub, I have already begun to build a robust clinical program, am recruiting outstanding scientists and plan to continue to ensure exceptional science,” said Dr. Jones.

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