Van Andel Research Institute’s research director and chief scientific officer participates in 21st Century Cures roundtable with director of the National Institutes of Health

U.S. Rep. and Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Fred Upton assembles distinguished panel to foster enhanced collaboration

Grand Rapids, Mich. (Oct. 8, 2014) Dr. Peter Jones, research director and chief scientific officer of Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), recently joined a distinguished group of participants, including Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in a roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Jones and the panel focused on the collaboration between government, industry, and the research community and shared ideas for how such collaborations can take advantage of rapid advances in science and technology.

Jones emphasized the importance of collaboration and taking innovative approaches to discovering new therapies, as well as the importance of both basic and translational research.

“We should never lose that very important thought—it isn’t all translational and it’s not all clinical,” Jones said. “We must focus on basic research first and then work with our partners to move new treatments from the laboratory into clinical trials and on to patients. Addressing the full spectrum of research from basic to translational is extremely important.”

Roundtable participants also addressed concerns over rising clinical trial costs. One way to lessen the time and money spent on clinical trials is to reposition drugs approved to treat one disease for use in another disease, according to Jones. An example is the Linked Clinical Trials initiative, which was devised by U.K.-based Parkinson’s charity The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and is supported by Van Andel Research Institute. The initiative annually convenes a committee, led by VARI Associate Director of Research Dr. Patrik Brundin, to identify and prioritize drugs that have already passed crucial trials to treat other illnesses and investigate their potential to treat Parkinson’s disease. Drugs that show promise are then fast-tracked for clinical trials. Visit for more information or to donate.

21st Century Cures has hosted roundtables with experts from across the country to address how to best speed the development of cures, especially in the discovery, development and delivery phases.