Sep. 19  —  Sep. 21, 2023

VAI Epigenomics Workshop: At the Intersection of Epigenomics and Metabolomics

The VAI Epigenomics Workshop: At the Intersection of Epigenomics and Metabolomics is a three-day, hands-on, problem-based experience that immerses Ph.D. students in the latest epigenomic research and techniques. This year’s theme spotlights a growing area in the field: integration of metabolomics and other orthogonal data types that lack genome-specific coordinates.

Workshop sessions will be taught by leaders in their fields and cover an array of approaches, including:

  • Epigenomic analysis and data integration (with a focus on overcoming challenges)
  • Metabolomics data formats and strategies for integration with epigenomics data
  • RNA- and ChIP-seq
  • Single-cell genomics
  • High-dimensional data integration
  • Genome browsers
  • DNA methylation analysis
  • Challenges associated with breaking the coordinate system (such as splicing, repeats etc.).

By the end of the workshop, students will have a broad understanding of epigenomic and metabolomic data types and the unique challenges posed by each. They also will be better able to apply these tools to interdisciplinary research questions in the field. In addition, students will build meaningful connections with research leaders and other graduate students in the broader epigenomics field.

To be added to our mailing list, please email Courtney Zirkle at [email protected].

Funding for the workshop was made possible (in part) by R25HG011020 from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the NIH; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

Workshop sessions will be taught by internationally recognized epigenomics and metabolomics experts — including invited speakers, VAI faculty and the excellent scientists of VAI’s Core Technologies and Services.

In addition to covering experimental design and analysis pipelines from each discipline (including tips for go-to databases, data sharing approaches, and repository expectations), students will hear real-world analytical examples from researchers focused on:

  • Generating optimal data (quality before quantity)
  • Structural analysis of epigenetic regulators
  • Developmental epigenomics
  • Epigenomics-metabolomics data integration
  • Bringing single-cell resolution to new -omics analyses
  • Wading through the options of four dimensional reduction

Our full agenda is currently in development. Check back soon for updates! To be added to our mailing list, please email Courtney Zirkle at [email protected]

Doctoral students from U.S. colleges and universities who have completed their comprehensive exams in an epigenetics-related discipline and are embarked on an epigenetics-based Ph.D. thesis are eligible to apply. Applicants should have entry-level, basic knowledge of the “command line.” Suggested pre-course training opportunities will be communicated to all candidates who are unsure about their command line competency.

Please submit the following materials no later than  May 5, 2023. The requested documents should be combined into one PDF document in the order listed below:

  • A biosketch*
  • One-paragraph statement of interest including area of study
  • Poster abstract (For formatting details, please visit our Poster tab)
  • Letter of recommendation from thesis advisor or a thesis committee member**

*Applicants are encouraged to describe any adversities they have faced in the personal statement section of the biosketch

**To complete your application, a letter of recommendation from your Ph.D. advisor or a thesis committee member must also be received by May 4. This can be included as the fourth document in the submission above or can be emailed by the advisor separately to Courtney Zirkle at [email protected].

Applications will be reviewed by the course committee, which will select 12-15 applicants for admission into the program. Students will be notified by the end of May 2023.

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 application 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…

There are no costs for selected student participants. VAI will cover costs associated with student participants’ travel and lodging to and from the VAI Epigenetics Symposium and Epigenomics Workshop. There is no registration fee. Applicants will be able to indicate their need for child-care assistance as part of the online application.

Event Details

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

Contact Info:

Email: Courtney Zirkle