VARI scientist earns $7.8M grant


Peter Jones. Courtesy Van Andel Research Institute

The chief scientific officer of the Van Andel Research Institute has received a $7.8-million grant to support the development of epigenetic cancer drugs.

Peter Jones was awarded the seven-year grant through the National Cancer Institute’s R35 Outstanding Investigator Award program. He is one of 25 recipients of the award for this funding cycle.

“We are very excited about the flexibility and creativity this grant will give us to understand — at the most fundamental levels — how tumors develop and how we can arrest their growth,” Jones said. “We believe this work will result in new drugs, combinations of drugs and clinical trials that will dramatically improve survival and quality of life for millions of people with cancer and their families.”

The award will fund Jones’ cancer epigenetics research, co-leadership of the VARI Stand Up to Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team, new drug development and clinical trials.

Jones plans to use the institute’s new $10-million cryo-electron microscope lab in his research.

Outstanding Investigator Award

Founded in 2015, the R35 Outstanding Investigator Award is intended to extend funding stability and encourage the exploration of innovative and creative approaches to cancer research.

“The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award addresses a problem that many cancer researchers experience: finding a balance between focusing on their science, while ensuring that they will have funds to continue their research in the future,” NCI’s cancer biology division director Dinah Singer said.

“With seven years of uninterrupted funding, NCI is providing investigators the opportunity to fully develop exceptional and ambitious cancer research programs.”

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