Press Release

1 Apr 2015

Renowned scientist, Broad Institute Founding Director Dr. Eric S. Lander to deliver Han-Mo Koo Memorial Lecture

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (April 1, 2015)—Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) is pleased to announce that Eric S. Lander, Ph.D., founding director of the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, will receive the 2015 Han-Mo Koo Memorial Award for his outstanding scientific achievements and contributions to the improvement of human health. As part of the award, Lander will give a scientific lecture and a lay lecture in May at VARI.

The Han-Mo Koo Memorial Award was established in 2010 to honor the memory of Dr. Han-Mo Koo, one of VARI’s founding investigators. As head of the Laboratory of Pharmacogenetics, Koo established several important projects focused on the identification of genetic targets for anti-cancer drugs, specifically for melanoma and pancreatic cancer. He passed away in 2004 following a six-month battle with cancer. Awardees are selected based on their scientific achievements, peer recognition and, importantly, that their contributions to human health align with Koo’s legacy.

Lander will give a scientific lecture, The 35-year journey of genomic medicine, at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 21 at VARI. A wine and cheese reception will be held at 5 p.m., with the lay lecture, entitled Secrets of the human genome, to follow at 6 p.m. Both lectures are free and open to the public. Those interested are asked to please register at by May 14. Please contact Beth Resau at or at 616.234.5373 with any questions.

As one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project, over the last 15 years Lander and his colleagues have created many of the key tools for the study of human genomics and have applied these tools to pioneer new ways to understand the basis of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases.

In 1990, he founded the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, which was a flagship of the Human Genome Project and became part of the newly founded Broad Institute in 2004. He also is professor of biology at MIT and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School.

“Dr. Lander has had a tremendous impact on science, not only through discovery but also through teaching and leadership,” said VARI’s Research Director Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. “His drive and vision were absolutely essential parts of some of the most exciting scientific projects in the last several decades, including mapping the human genome. Dr. Lander’s work and commitment to innovation are fitting complements to the spirit of the Han-Mo Koo Memorial Award.”

Lander also has been a member of the Board of Trustees at Boston University since 2008 and, in 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He also is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Class of Biosciences. Lander earned his B.A. in mathematics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in mathematics from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.


Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent biomedical research and science education organization committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations. Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, VAI has grown into a premier research and educational institution that supports the work of more than 270 scientists, educators and staff. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), VAI’s research division, is dedicated to determining the epigenetic, genetic, molecular and cellular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translating those findings into effective therapies. The Institute’s scientists work in on-site laboratories and participate in collaborative partnerships that span the globe. Learn more about Van Andel Institute or donate by visiting 100% To Research, Discovery & Hope®