Five Van Andel Institute scientists named to elite Highly Cited Researchers List

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Nov. 16, 2021) — Van Andel Institute scientists Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon), Russell Jones, Ph.D., Peter W. Laird, Ph.D., and X. Edward Zhou, Ph.D., have been included in this year’s Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers List, a distinction marking them as leaders in their fields.

The greatly anticipated annual list identifies researchers who demonstrated significant influence in their chosen area or areas of study through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. Their names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science™ citation index. Only about 1 in 1,000 scientists in the world make this elite list, according to Clarivate.

Citations, or references, to a scientist’s published work by other researchers is universally considered to be a measure of influence and impact in the scientific community.

“It is increasingly important for nations and institutions to recognize and support the exceptional researchers who are driving the expansion of the world’s knowledge,” said David Pendlebury, senior citation analyst at the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate. “This list identifies and celebrates exceptional individual researchers at Van Andel Institute who are having a significant impact on the research community as evidenced by the rate at which their work is being cited by their peers. The research they have contributed is fueling the innovation, sustainability, health and security that is key for our society’s future.”

Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.

Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.
Deputy Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Institute
Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., investigates the mechanisms that give rise to Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that affects more than 7 million people worldwide. Brundin’s research is redefining our understanding of Parkinson’s, from how it spreads in the brain and throughout the body to investigating the role of infections in the disease’s earliest stages. His goal is to develop new therapies that slow or stop disease progression or that repair the brain — feats not possible with existing treatments. Along with research in his lab, Brundin chairs the scientific committee of the International Linked Clinical Trials initiative, a program spearheaded by Cure Parkinson’s and supported by VAI that moves repurposed medications into clinical trials for Parkinson’s.

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)
Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Institute
Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon) is a pioneer in epigenetics, a growing field that explores how genes are regulated and that has vast implications for the development of new therapies for cancer and other diseases. His discoveries have helped usher in an entirely new class of drugs that have been approved to treat blood cancer and are being investigated in other tumor types. Jones is a past president of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), a fellow of the AACR Academy, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Russell Jones, Ph.D.

Russell Jones, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming, Van Andel Institute
Russell Jones, Ph.D., investigates metabolism at the cellular level to understand how it affects cell behavior and health, with a specific eye on cancer and the immune system. By revealing how cancer cells use metabolic processes to fuel their growth and spread, he hopes to develop new treatments that help patients by changing the standard of care for cancer. He is an elected member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada and an Allen Distinguished Investigator in Immunometabolism.

Peter Laird, Ph.D.

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Epigenetics, Van Andel Institute
Peter W. Laird, Ph.D., is an expert in epigenetics, a field that explores when and how the instructions in our genetic code are carried out. Epigenetic mistakes play major roles in cancer and, as such, serve as important targets for new treatments. Laird has developed several cutting-edge technologies, which he leverages to identify crucial epigenetic alterations that convert otherwise healthy cells into cancer cells. He is a principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute’s Genome Data Analysis Network and served in a leadership role for The Cancer Genome Atlas, a now-completed multi-institutional effort to molecularly map 33 different types of cancer.

Edward Zhou, Ph.D.

Edward Zhou, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist, Li Lab, Department of Structural Biology, Van Andel Institute
X. Edward Zhou, Ph.D., is a structural biologist whose research explores how the architecture of molecules governs how they work — and how abnormal changes to molecular shape can influence disease. He has contributed to numerous paradigm-shifting discoveries including identification of the structure of a major molecular drug target that can be leveraged to treat a host of diseases, as well as structures that provided revelatory new insights into drought resistance in plants.


Van Andel Institute (VAI) is committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations through cutting edge biomedical research and innovative educational offerings. Established in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1996 by the Van Andel family, VAI is now home to nearly 500 scientists, educators and support staff, who work with a growing number of national and international collaborators to foster discovery. The Institute’s scientists study the origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translate their findings into breakthrough prevention and treatment strategies. Our educators develop inquiry-based approaches for K-12 education to help students and teachers prepare the next generation of problem-solvers, while our Graduate School offers a rigorous, research-intensive Ph.D. program in molecular and cellular biology. Learn more at vai.org.

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