VARI chief scientist joins elite ranks of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Peter Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc., is one of 228 new members elected to this year’s class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, welcoming him into the company of more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Dr. Jones is the chief scientific officer here at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). His career traces a path of remarkable firsts—starting with pursuit of epigenetics when few understood its relevance in medicine and there were even fewer willing to embrace this area of research.

Dr. Peter Jones

Thirty years later, Dr. Jones now leads VARI’s Center for Epigenetics and co-leads the Van Andel Research Institute-Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team, which is testing several new treatments for colon and blood cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.

“I am honored the Academy has chosen to recognize the work we have accomplished,” says Dr. Jones. “Strong science is a team effort, and I’ve been fortunate to work with incredible colleagues over the years. Our research represents a small contribution to a dynamic field that is brimming with creative, brilliant scientists.”

Established in 1780 during the Revolutionary War, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences stands among the nation’s oldest scholarly institutions with a mission to address social and intellectual issues of common concern.

Dr. Jones’ primary research interest is epigenetics—the body’s DNA control system—and how it contributes to cancer. He ranks among a handful of scientists who pioneered this field, and his discoveries have ushered in an entirely new class of treatments for blood and solid-organ tumors.

His election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences comes less than a year after being elected to the National Academy of Sciences, which was founded in 1863 during the Civil War and charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Dr. Jones joins VARI Founding Research Director Dr. George Vande Woude, who has been a fellow of the AAAS since 2006.

We’re proud of Dr. Jones’ achievements and recognitions, and we’re excited to see what comes next for VARI and the Center for Epigenetics.

Read more about epigenetics and Dr. Jones’ work here.

The 237th class of members includes philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend, award-winning actress Carol Burnett, chairman of the board of Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns, mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, immunologist James P. Allison, and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. To read the entire release click here.