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

Genetics, neurodegeneration, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, complex disease genomics, bioinformatics, data science

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.

Synaptic physiology, neural plasticity, excitotoxicity, neuromodulation, neural circuitry, electrophysiology, optogenetics, chemogenetics, neurodegenerative diseases models

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.

Investigating the brain’s intricate signaling network using state-of-the-art structural biology techniques, such as cryo-EM.

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

Genetics, neurodegeneration, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, next-generation sequencing, rare neurological diseases

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

Investigating the underlying pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease and leverages that knowledge to develop and evaluate therapeutics for these devastating diseases.

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

Investigating metabolic control of immune function, metabolic competition in the tumor microenvironment and the role of signal transduction pathways and metabolic pathways in cell proliferation

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.

Investigating the interplay between the immune system, metabolism and cellular programming; developing new treatments for cancer, infections, autoimmunity and neuroinflammation

(In Memoriam)

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.

Mapping the intergenerational effects of parental diet and toxin exposure

Using advanced technologies such as cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to investigate eukaryotic DNA replication, the bacterial proteasome system and regulation and modification of the Notch receptor.

Utilizing single-particle electron cryo-microscopy and other biophysical/biochemical methods to study the structure and function of membrane proteins.

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 the role of epigenetic regulation in intergenerational effects, phenotypic variation and disease heterogeneity

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

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

Investigates the dynamic epigenetic mechanisms that regulate chromatin and transcription in an effort to better understand how they impact cancer development.

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.

Development of statistical and mathematical methods to dissect pediatric and adult cancers, with a focus on cancers of the blood in children.

Regulation of eukaryotic gene expression and chromatin, herpes simplex virus infection. Lab inactive as of September 2018.

Studies epigenetic regulation of gene expression and chromatin dynamics, with a focus on how dysregulation of the homeostasis of chromatin states leads to the development of human cancers.

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.

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

Emeritus Faculty

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.
Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Emeritus