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VAIGS Faculty

Our faculty is primarily made up of Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) investigators, each of whom have a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent academic degree and a distinguished record of scholarship and contributions to the scientific community.

Adjunct faculty members may supplement the permanent faculty. These may include visiting scientists from other research institutes, faculty members from local colleges or universities, postdoctoral fellows at VARI, or practicing professionals.

 

Meet the Faculty

Investigating how inflammation in the periphery and the central nervous system can give rise to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts/behavior.

Pathogenetic mechanisms and pharmacological treatment in cell and animal models of Parkinson’s disease.

Understanding how the genetic predisposition of complex diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s disease impose risk to aid in the development of therapies that slow or halt these diseases.

MET signaling, RTK signaling in breast cancer progression and therapeutic resistance, mouse models, targeted therapeutic approaches to breast cancer.

Developing novel methods to drug the oncogenic transcription factor EWS-FLI1 for Ewing sarcoma.

Microarray-based protein analysis methods, cancer-induced changes to blood proteins, pancreatic and prostate cancer diagnostics and extracellular protein-protein interactions.

Biospecimen Science; biorepository and biospecimen management; histology, microscopy, and microarray technology.

Our objective is to generate new strategies in cardiac regeneration through cardiomyocytes from pluripotent cell sources. These sources not only provide all different subtypes of cardiomyocytes but tumorigenic potential as well.

Investigates the complex interplay between genetic and epigenetic features by integrating genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) to identify abnormally regulated regions of the genome and explore how they contribute to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Multidisciplinary studies of the role of DNA methylation in cancer, using mechanistic, clinical translational, genome-scale and bioinformatic approaches.

Tumor microenvironment effects on breast and prostate cancer progression and metastasis.

Wei Lü, Ph.D.

Prions, the protein conformation based infectious agent; and other protein misfolding related diseases, particularly the prion-like behavior of proteins in neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. a-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease.

Ras/MAPK and PI3K/mTOR pathways, mathematical modeling of signaling pathways, non–small cell lung cancer and breast cancer, kinase and phosphorylase effects on cell survival.

Crystal structures of receptors and signaling proteins/ protein complexes, including AMP-kinase, ABA signaling, and nuclear receptors.

Elucidating the normal biological function of Parkinson’s disease-related proteins and the molecular mechanisms through which changes in these proteins cause neuronal dysfunction and neurodegeneration in inherited forms of Parkinson’s disease.

David Nadziejka, M.S.

Technical (substantive) editing of science and engineering documents; technical writing; levels of editing; oral presentations and posters.

Investigating DNA methylation, the role of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in cancer, and functional characterization of epigenetic regulators.

Investigating basic molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling chromatin accessibility, interaction and function.

Development of microRNA-based diagnostic and therapeutic applications in Cancer Medicine; Mechanistic studies of microRNA activity in mouse models of breast and pancreatic cancer.

Studying epigenetic alterations in human diseases at the genomic scale, with a focus on cancer, especially female cancers and cross-cancer comparisons.

The role of Wnt signaling and tumor pressure in osteosarcoma pathogenesis, genetic mouse models of osteosarcoma, translational sarcoma studies.

Investigating the molecular mechanisms responsible for resetting the epigenome between generations in general and in the context of genomic imprinting.

Regulation of eukaryotic gene expression, transcriptional activation, chromatin modification, herpes simplex virus infection.

VAIGS Associate Dean working with curriculum, faculty development, and student affairs; laboratory focus on cell biology of hematopoietic differentiation, including cell-cell interactions, tumor immunology, and immunophenotyping cellular responses.

The genetics of aging, the relationship between stress resistance and lifespan, the pathogenesis of Huntington and Parkinson disease, and the role of aging in neurodegenerative disease.

MET oncogene expression/overexpression, HGF/SF-induced proliferation and invasion, Met-expressing transgenic mice, geldanamycin effects on glioma cell invasion and MAPK signaling in melanoma.

Lrp5 and Lrp6 function, Wnt signaling in bone development and disease and prostate and breast cancer, osteosarcoma.

Bioinformatic and statistical analysis of genome-scale datasets as it applies to complex disease and the translation of genomics to the clinic via the development of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers.

Regulation of glucose and lipid transport and metabolism during tumor cell growth. Dissecting the relationship between nutrient input and redox balance within cells.

X-ray crystallography, nuclear hormone (PPAR, steroid) receptors, Met tyrosine kinase receptor and G-Protein coupled receptors.

Interplay of signaling or cellular processes in skeletal development, homeostasis and diseases. Mouse genetic models for osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, skeletal aging and tissue repair.