Aug. 1  —  Aug. 3, 2022

VAI Epigenetics Symposium: 20(+2) Years of the Histone Code

In the two decades since the first description of the histone code, the field of epigenetics has grown exponentially and given rise to revolutionary new insights that are reshaping our understanding of health and disease.

The 2022 VAI Epigenetics Symposium: 20 (+2) Years of the Histone Code will explore the latest advances in epigenetic research, from chromatin and transcriptional regulation to developmental plasticity and transgenerational inheritance. This three-day event will feature global leaders in the field and spotlight remarkable breakthroughs at the forefront of discovery. For questions, please contact Courtney Zirkle at [email protected].

Monday, August 1, 2022

Symposium Opening

9:00 am
9:00 am  - 9:05 am

Welcome Remarks

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)
9:05 am  - 9:10 am

Opening Remarks

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D.

SESSION ONE: Histone acetylation and transcriptional regulation

9:10 am  - 9:35 am

SAGA in development and disease

Sharon Y. R. Dent, Ph.D.
9:35 am 

New mechanism of histone regulation of gene transcription in chromatin

Ming-Ming Zhou, Ph.D.
10:00 am 

Chemical approaches to sorting out histone modifications

Philip A. Cole, M.D., Ph.D.
10:25 am  - 10:35 am

Abstract Selected Talk: Histone acetyltransferase MOF at the nexus of stem cell fate decision

Le Tran Phuc Khoa, Ph.D.
10:35 am  - 11:00 am


11:00 am 

Polycomb/Trithorax competition during transcriptional programming

Mitzi Kuroda, Ph.D.
11:25 am  - 11:50 am

Molecular snapshots of acetylation beyond histones

Ronen Marmorstein, Ph.D.


11:50 am

SESSION TWO: Dynamic histone methylation and chromatin regulation

1:00 pm
1:00 pm  - 1:25 pm

Epigenetic regulation in immuno-oncology

Yang Shi, Ph.D.

Abstract Selected Talk: KDM2A/B paralog-specific recognition of the nucleosome acidic patch

Aleksandra Skrajna, Ph.D.

The NFIB/CARM1 partnership is a therapeutic target for small cell lung cancer

Mark T. Bedford, Ph.D.

Abstract Selected Talk: Polycomb signaling as a therapeutic axis for enhancing epigenetic therapy in colon cancer

Alison A. Chomiak, Ph.D.



Role of H3K36 methylation in the regulation of chromatin and cancer biology

Or Gozani, M.D., Ph.D.

Quantitative proteomics for understanding epigenetic mechanisms

Benjamin A. Garcia, Ph.D., FRSC

Chromatin dynamics

Jane Mellor, Ph.D.




Keynote Introduction


Keynote: Making and breaking heterochromatin in the mouse epigenome

Thomas Jenuwein, Ph.D.

Reception at VAI, sponsored by Zymo Research

Day One Concludes

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

9:00 am  - 9:05 am


SESSION FOUR: DNA methylation and genome integrity

9:05 am  - 9:30 am

Chromatin-based modulations underlying gene regulation and oncogenesis

Greg Wang, Ph.D.
9:30 am  - 9:55 am

Integrating inflammation, inflammasome signaling, immunity, mitochondria and DNA integrity

Stephen B. Baylin, M.D.
9:55 am 

The role of short sequence motifs in the maintenance of global DNA methylation

Ben Berman, Ph.D.
10:20 am  - 10:30 am

Abstracted Selected Talk: A molecular case study: Deep spatial and cellular mapping of DNA methylation in colorectal cancer

Nathan Spix
10:30 am  - 10:55 am



11:20 a.m.

Oncohistones organize canonical PRC1 chromatin architecture to regulate developmental programs

Nada Jabado, M.D., Ph.D.
11:20 am  - 11:45 am

Dark matters in the epigenome

Ting Wang, Ph.D.
11:45 am  - 12:10 pm

Structural visualization of chromatin regulatory Complexes using cryo-EM

Yuan He, Ph.D.


Poster Session

1:10 pm

SESSION FIVE: Epigenetic control across time: aging, development and generational effects

2:30 pm 

A tale of histone modifications at enhancers — beyond the tail

Wendy Bickmore, Ph.D.
2:55 pm 

Single cell epigenome analysis in health and disease

Bing Ren, Ph.D.
3:20 pm 

Abstract Selected Talk:Z-DNA is remodeled by ZBTB43 in prospermatogonia to safeguard the germ line genome and epigenome

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D.
3:30 pm 


3:55 pm 

Integrative single-cell spatial modeling of cell identity

Jian Ma, Ph.D.
4:20 am 

Chromatin interplays in maternal epigenetic inheritance

Déborah Bourc'his, Ph.D.
4:45 pm  - 5:10 am

Histone variants and chaperones in shaping chromatin and cell fate

Geneviève Almouzni, Ph.D.
5:10 pm 

Mammalian epigenetic inheritance: models and mechanisms

Anne Ferguson-Smith, Ph.D.

Day Two Concludes

5:35 pm

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

9:00 am 

Welcome Remarks

SESSION SIX: Chromatin signaling in disease and aging

9:05 am 

Therapeutic targeting of chromatin complexes in leukemia and sarcoma

Scott Armstrong, M.D., Ph.D.
9:30 am 

DNA hypomethylation: Alterations of the 3D cancer genome

Susan Clark, Ph.D., FAA, FAHMS
9:55 am 

Regulation of histone modifications in cancer by metabolic reprogramming

Katherine M. Aird, Ph.D.
10:20 am  - 10:30 am

Abstract Selected Talk: Epigenetic dosage determines the major axis of pancreatic β-cell heterogeneity

Erez Dror
10:30 am 

Yael David, Ph.D.
10:55 am 

Abstract Selected Talk: Characterizing the landscape of transposable elements in the placenta

Jessica Harrison
11:05 am  - 11:30 am



11:30 am
11:30 am 

Keynote Introduction

11:35 am  - 12:35 pm

Chromatin mechanisms and non-chromatin functions of histone code writers

Brian D. Strahl, Ph.D.

Symposium Concludes

Lunch and Departures

  • Thomas Jenuwein, Ph.D. — Keynote
  • Brian D. Strahl, Ph.D. — Keynote
  • Katherine M. Aird, Ph.D.
  • Geneviève Almouzni, Ph.D.
  • Scott Armstrong, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Stephen B. Baylin, M.D.
  • Mark T. Bedford, Ph.D.
  • Ben Berman, Ph.D.
  • Wendy Bickmore, Ph.D.
  • Déborah Bourc’his, Ph.D
  • Susan Clark, Ph.D.
  • Philip A. Cole, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Sharon Y.R. Dent, Ph.D.
  • Anne Ferguson-Smith, Ph.D.
  • Benjamin A. Garcia, Ph.D., FRSC.
  • Or Gozani, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Yuan He, Ph.D.
  • Nada Jabado, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Mitzi Kuroda, Ph.D.
  • Jian Ma, Ph.D.
  • Ronen Marmorstein, Ph.D.
  • Jane Mellor, Ph.D.
  • Anjana Rao, Ph.D.
  • Bing Ren, Ph.D.
  • Yang Shi, Ph.D.
  • Jessica Tyler, Ph.D.
  • Ting Wang, Ph.D.
  • Ming-Ming Zhou, Ph.D.

When is VAI Epigenetics Symposium? How much does it cost?

The VAI Epigenetics Symposium will take place Monday, August 1 at 8:00 a.m. through Wednesday, August 3 at 12:00 p.m. EST.

The registration fees for the symposium are:

  • $150 for trainees (graduate students and postdoctoral fellows)
  • $300 for non-trainees.

What does the registration fee include?

The registration fee includes breakfast and lunch each day of the symposium, as well as an evening networking reception.

Is the VAI Epigenomics Workshop part of the symposium?

No, the VAI Epigenomics Workshop is a separate workshop for graduate students. More information is available here. The workshop will immediately follow the symposium and will begin at 12:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 3 through 12:00 p.m., Friday, August 5. All trainees accepted to participate in the workshop will be invited to attend the entirety of the symposium at no charge.

When does registration for the VAI Epigenetics Symposium and the application period for the VAI Epigenomics Workshop open?

Registration for the symposium and the application period for the workshop opens Wednesday, March 7, 2022.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022, is the abstract submission deadline for talk consideration. All workshop applicant abstract submissions will be given talk consideration.

July 20 is the final day to register for the symposium. Onsite registrations will not be accepted.

Important Dates

  • Wednesday, March 2, 2022
    • Workshop application period opens
    • Symposium registration opens
  • Wednesday, May 4, 2022
    • Workshop application period closes
  • Wednesday, May 11, 2022
    • Symposium abstract deadline for talk consideration
    • Workshop notifications
  • Wednesday, May 25, 2022
    • Symposium abstract selected talk notifications
  • Wednesday, July 20, 2022
    • Symposium registration closes

Can I register a group for the VAI Epigenetics Symposium?

Yes, the registration form allows one person to register and pay for a group. Once registration is complete for one person, please click “add person” in the bottom right corner of the form. Input the second person’s information and continue in this manner until all parties in the group are registered. The system will then charge a total cost for the group. 

Will late registrations for the VAI Epigenetics Symposium be accepted?

Unfortunately, late registrations will not be accepted. All attendees must register online by 11:59PM EST Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

What if I need accessible parking?

Please contact Courtney Zirkle at [email protected] to discuss any accessibility needs.

What if I have dietary needs?

Please include any dietary allergies or restrictions on your registration or application form. Every effort will be made to accommodate requests.

How do I become a sponsor?

Please contact Courtney Zirkle at [email protected] for more information on sponsorship opportunities.

What is the refund policy for the symposium?

Refund requests must be made in writing on or before July 20, 2022 and sent to Courtney Zirkle at [email protected]. Alternatively, you may cancel your registration through the CVent portal on or before July 20, by entering your confirmation number and following the steps to cancel. You will find a link to modify or cancel your registration in your registration confirmation email. The card used during registration will be automatically refunded 100% of your registration fee.

Refunds will not be accepted after July 20; however, you may substitute a registrant in your place through July 20, 2022.

How do I get to Grand Rapids?

Grand Rapids is home to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR). GRR offers more than 120 nonstop flights every day from 23 popular destinations, including Orlando, New York, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas. Taxis, rideshare services, and car rentals are available at GRR.

Grand Rapids is only a few hours away from a variety of destinations via road or rail. Detroit and Traverse City are both a two-hour drive away, and Chicago takes just three hours, or you can ride Amtrak from its station in downtown Grand Rapids.

How do I get to VAI?

Van Andel Institute is located downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is approximately 20 minutes from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. VAI is conveniently located within walking distance of multiple local hotels. Lyft, Uber, and taxi services are available in Grand Rapids.

Looking for accommodations? Here are some close suggestions:

Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton – 187 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Distance to VAI: 0.6 miles

JW Marriott Grand Rapids – 235 Louis St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Distance to VAI: 0.7 miles

AC Hotel – 50 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Distance to VAI: 0.6 miles

Submitted abstracts should represent original research and may cover any biomedical research topic. The title should be brief and descriptive, and the body should include rationale, methods, and results. Please prepare abstracts using the below template. Abstracts should be submitted during the registration process.


Presenting Author1,2, Other Author1, and Last Author1,3(Style = Authors)

1First Dept., Institution, City, State, Country, 2Second Dept., Institution, City, State, Country, and 3Last Dept., Institution, City, State, Country (Style = Affiliations)

Body of abstract using 300 words or less. Define each abbreviation at first use. All fonts should be Arial, 11 pt. and text should be single-spaced. Once you have filled in this template, choose File>Save As and save your file as a Word document (.doc or .docx) with the filename lastname_abstract. (Style = Body)



Andrew Pospisilik1,2 and Russell Jones1

1Department of Metabolic and Nutritional Programming, Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, United States, 2Department of Epigenetics, Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, United States

Cancer is essentially a disease in which cells have lost their normal checks on cell proliferation. Cancer cells also have evolved to evade elimination by the immune system, the body’s defense mechanism against foreign invaders. Recent studies suggest…

To become a sponsor, please contact Courtney Zirkle at [email protected].

Chair, Department of Epigenetics
Van Andel Institute

Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik seeks to understand how we become whom we become, and how our disease susceptibility is defined from early on in life, even before conception, with the long-term goal of being able to predict lifelong health outlook at birth.

Assistant Professor, Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming
Van Andel Institute

Dr. Heidi Lempradl is investigating how the dietary choices and environmental exposures of parents may impact the health of their offspring in the hopes of translating her findings into new ways to prevent disease and create a healthier future.

Associate Professor, Department of Epigenetics
Van Andel Institute

Dr. Scott Rothbart studies the ways in which cells pack and unpack DNA. This elegant process twists and coils roughly 2 meters of unwound DNA into a space less than one-tenth the width of a human hair. Although this process is impressive, it is also subject to errors that can cause cancer and other disorders. Rothbart seeks new targets for drug development in this process.

Associate Professor, Department of Epigenetics
Van Andel Institute

Dr. Shen develops new approaches to cancer prevention, detection and treatment by studying the interaction between genes and their control systems, called epigenetics. Her research focuses on women’s cancers, particularly ovarian cancer, and also has shed new light on the underlying mechanisms of other many cancer types, including breast, kidney and prostate cancers.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics
Van Andel Institute

Dr. Shi investigates the mechanisms that regulate DNA and gene expression in an effort to better understand how they impact cancer development. His research has led to the discovery of several new “readers” of epigenetic marks that may serve as targets for cancer treatment.

Event Details

For more information on the VAI Epigenomics Workshop for graduate students, which will follow the symposium, please click the arrow below.

Venue: Van Andel Institute 333 Bostwick Ave. NE Grand Rapids

Contact Info:

Email: Courtney Zirkle

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors!

Scientific Sponsor

Discovery Sponsor