Van Andel Research Institute names new assistant professor as part of epigenetics expansion


Grand Rapids, Mich. (Sept. 2, 2014) –  Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) has added to its rapidly expanding epigenetics hub with the appointment of Hui Shen, Ph.D.

Shen will serve as a VARI assistant professor and head of Laboratory of Epigenomic Analysis in Human Disease. Her work will focus on cancer epigenomics, or the study of how genes are turned “on” or “off” by chemical modifications rather than through changes in the DNA sequence. Shen also specializes in bioinformatics, or the use of software and computing to analyze biological data, which will be a valuable addition to the Institute’s already robust bioinformatics and biostatistics resources.

Shen completed her doctorate and postdoctoral fellowship in Peter W. Laird’s laboratory at the University of Southern California (USC), where she studied the epigenetics and the epigenomics of human cancer. Shen also collaborated extensively with teams working on the Cancer Genome Atlas Program, a project funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute that seeks to enhance the molecular understanding of cancer.

“It’s an exciting time to join VARI, especially with the institutional focus on epigenetics,” Shen said. “I look forward to helping build VARI’s epigenetics program and to expanding upon my current work.”

Shen began work at VARI on September 2.

“Dr. Shen’s expertise will be extremely beneficial as we continue to grow VARI’s epigenetics resources,” said Dr. Peter Jones, VARI’s research director. “Her appointment brings us closer to our goal of becoming a global center for epigenetics.”

For more information on VARI’s Laboratory of Epigenomic Analysis in Human Disease, visit

About Van Andel Research Institute

Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent research and educational organization based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), VAI’s research arm, is dedicated to studying the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and working to translate those findings into effective therapies. Find out more about Van Andel Institute or donate by visiting 100% To Research, Discovery & Hope®.