Van Andel Research Institute’s Center for Epigenetics adds new assistant professor


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (April 1, 2015)—Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) has recruited Scott Rothbart, Ph.D., to its rapidly growing Center for Epigenetics.

Rothbart will serve as an assistant professor and head of the Laboratory of Chromatin and Epigenetic Regulation. His research centers on epigenetics, the study of how the modification and packaging of DNA influences which genes are used or kept silent in a particular cell. Specifically, Rothbart will focus on a complex called chromatin, which makes up the chromosomes that carry and protect DNA throughout cellular division. Understanding how chromatin and its modifications are regulated and affect gene expression are key aspects of epigenetic research.

His first day at VARI will be April 1.

“I am excited for the opportunity to join VARI, and I look forward to contributing to the growth of an ‘EPI’center for epigenetics here in Grand Rapids,” Rothbart said. “Our team is poised to uncover basic mechanisms of gene regulation that will aid in the discovery of new medicines targeting epigenetic regulators in diseases like cancer and neurological disorders.”

Rothbart earned a Bachelor’s degree in food science and human nutrition from the University of Florida in 2005. He completed his Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University, and most recently worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Brian D. Strahl, Ph.D., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Dr. Rothbart is an exceptionally talented scientist who brings a new dimension to the Institute’s research portfolio,” said Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc., VARI’s research director. “As we continue to build critical mass in the Center for Epigenetics, Dr. Rothbart’s expertise will be invaluable. We’re extremely excited to see the innovative research he will conduct.”

In the last year, VARI’s Center for Epigenetics has recruited five other outstanding scientists to lead laboratories or collaborative research programs at the Institute. VARI also is actively recruiting three new faculty members in epigenetics and neuroepigenetics as part of the Center’s expansion. This growth is a critical component of Jones’s plan to build a world-class epigenetics program at the Institute, with the ultimate aim of developing new epigenetic therapies for diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s.



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 www.vai.org. 100% To Research, Discovery & Hope®