Van Andel Institute hosts event highlighting women’s health: Experts share information, insight on women’s cancer

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Nov. 16, 2016)—Van Andel Institute (VAI) today held “A Conversation About Women’s Health Hosted by Carol Van Andel: Common Cancers Affecting Women,” to focus attention on research related to breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. During the interactive program, 200 attendees learned about scientific work being performed by Dr. Peter Jones, chief scientific officer of Van Andel Research Institute, Dr. Hui Shen, Van Andel Research Institute, and Dr. Ronald Chandler, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Attendees also were encouraged to ask questions.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women after skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women. In addition to sharing information about cutting-edge research, presenters talked about how women can become their own personal healthcare advocates.

“Knowledge is power and women must be armed with information and facts when discussing treatment,” said Carol Van Andel, Executive Director of the David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation. “VAI is focused on biomedical research, which offers hope for improving treatments for diseases like cancer – and one day, preventing them altogether. Events like A Conversation are designed to share that hope with the community.”

“This was a great opportunity to make the connection between research and everyday life,” said Dr. Shen. “We hope the ovarian cancer research we’re working on at VAI and with collaborators around the country will inform the development of new treatments for this devastating disease.”

Dr. Shen, an assistant professor at the Institute, is part of the Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network, a federally funded, multi-institutional effort to map key genomic changes in 33 types of cancer. This data helps scientists improve diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and identify methods to improve prevention. Shen discussed her efforts to develop therapies for ovarian cancer. Dr. Ronald Chandler, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology with MSU, spoke about the connections between genetics, cancer and treatment.

The annual luncheon event rotates health research topics and is an example of VAI’s commitment to raising awareness about health issues that affect people in our community. Last year’s event focused on depression and suicide.

Beth Hinshaw Hall, [email protected], 616.234.5519