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Epigenetics

Overview

Department of Epigenetics

Virtually all 37.2 trillion cells in our bodies have the same DNA, the spiraling molecule that contains the genetic instructions required to make us who we are. But if every cell works from the same playbook, how and why does the human body have so many different types of cells? Why do some become skin cells while others become muscle cells, heart cells or brain cells?

The answer is epigenetics — a complex set of processes that determine when and to what extent certain genetic instructions are carried out. Epigenetic processes are vital for healthy cellular function and, when things go awry, they can play major roles in disease.

Scientists in VAI’s Department of Epigenetics seek to understand how epigenetic changes may either protect us from or predispose us to complex diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s and metabolic disorders. By investigating the epigenetic processes that fine-tune DNA, our scientists aim to pinpoint the origins of these complex diseases and determine how they are impacted by our past, present and future.

Our Faculty

Image of Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Epigenetic Origins of Heterogeneity and Disease

Stephen Baylin, M.D.

Co-leader, Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team

Director’s Scholar and Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Yvonne Fondufe-Mittendorf, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Epigenetic Regulation and Environmental Impacts

Dr. Peter Jones, Van Andel Institute

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)

Chief Scientific Officer; President, Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Epigenetic Therapies

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Cancer Epigenetics

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Epigenetic and Genetic Pathways in Human Disease

Scott Rothbart

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Chromatin and Epigenetic Regulation

Hui Shen, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Epigenomics Analysis in Human Disease

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Histone Modifications and Chromatin Regulation

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Developmental Programming

Tim Triche, Jr., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Translational Biological Informatics

Hong Wen, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Epigenetics

Epigenetics and Transcription

Adjunct Faculty

Ronald Chandler, Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Epigenetics

Primary Institution: Michigan State University

Zach DeBruine, Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty, Department Epigenetics

Primary Institution: Grand Valley State University

Gangning Liang, M.D., Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Epigenetics

Primary Institution: University of Southern California

Feyruz Rassool, Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Epigenetics

Primary Institution: University of Maryland School of Medicine

Department Staff

Darrell Chandler, Ph.D.

Scientific Grant Writer, Department of Epigenetics

Lauren Dunkelberg, B.A.

Senior Administrative Assistant I, Department of Epigenetics

Amy Nuffesse

Senior Administrative Assistant II, Department of Epigenetics

Recent Publications

Our Impact

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We’re turning hope into action for the millions of people around the world affected by diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s. Find out how you can help us make a difference.

  • 120 peer-reviewed papers published in 2023
  • 62 peer-reviewed papers published in high-impact journals in 2023
  • 55 clinical trials launched to date
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