New Frontiers in Cancer Metabolism

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New Frontiers in Cancer Metabolism

April 18, 2017 @ 8:30 am - 12:00 pm

Cellular metabolism plays a critical role in the normal, day-to-day operation of healthy cells. Yet, when these processes go awry, they contribute to the molecular basis of many common disease states. Cancer in particular is marked by a reprogramming of cellular metabolism that drives cell growth and proliferation, which propels disease progression but also presents promising avenues for therapeutic development.

New Frontiers in Cancer Metabolism, a half-day symposium hosted by Van Andel Research Institute, will highlight emerging research in this area with a particular emphasis on mitochondria, signaling, metabolic reprogramming and links to human disease.

Registration is free.

Location: Van Andel Research Institute 333 Bostwick Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Questions? Contact Beth Resau at or 616.234.5373

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8:30 a.m.

9:00 a.m.
Welcome and introduction

9:10 a.m.
Navdeep Chandel, Ph.D.—University of Chicago
Mitochondria as signaling organelles

10:05 a.m.
Heather Christofk, Ph.D.—UCLA Metabolomics Center
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Metabolic reprogramming mechanisms

10:55 a.m.

11:10 a.m.
Christian Metallo, Ph.D.—University of California, San Diego
Tracing metabolic insights into human disease

12:00 p.m.
Thank you and event concludes

Navdeep S. Chandel, Ph.D.
David W. Cugell Professor
Department of Medicine and Cell Biology
Northwestern University

Navdeep S. Chandel is a David W. Cugell professor at the Department of Medicine and Cell Biology at Northwestern University. He received a BA in mathematics and Ph.D. in Cell Physiology at University of Chicago. Dr. Chandel’s work has elucidated that the mitochondria have a third distinct role whereby they participate in cellular signaling pathways through the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and metabolites. For decades, the mitochondria have been primarily viewed as biosynthetic and bioenergetic organelles generating metabolites for the production of macromolecules such as lipids and ATP, respectively. His work has implicated the necessity of mitochondrial ROS for multiple biological processes including hypoxic activation of HIFs, cellular differentiation, and T cell activation. Previously, the dogma in the field had been that mitochondrial ROS are only produced in pathological settings to cause both cellular and DNA damage. However, Dr. Chandel’s work demonstrates that mitochondrial ROS are utilized as messengers to maintain normal biological and physiological functions. His studies suggest that the current widespread use of antioxidants is likely to be detrimental rather than beneficial for alleviating a myriad of diseases as this could interfere with normal physiological processes. More recently, Dr. Chandel’s work has shown how mitochondrial metabolites influence the epigenome.

An important aspect of his ongoing research program is to decipher whether mitochondrial respiration is necessary for cancer cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. The prevailing idea was that increased aerobic glycolysis (i.e. Warburg effect) was the dominant metabolic reprogramming event in cancer cells. However, Dr. Chandel’s work genetically demonstrated that the mitochondrial respiratory chain is essential for tumorigenesis. This led to the now appreciated idea that both aerobic glycolysis and mitochondrial respiration are essential for cancer development. Moreover, Dr. Chandel found that the anti-diabetic drug metformin can have anti-tumor efficacy through inhibition of the respiratory chain within cancer cells. Until this finding, it was believed that metformin exerts its anti-cancer effects by lowering insulin levels, a known mitogen for cancer cells. He received NCI outstanding investigator Award in 2016

Collectively, Dr. Chandel’s work has elucidated mitochondria beyond its role in energy production to include its essential role in dictating numerous biological, physiological and pathological outcomes.

Heather Christofk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
University of California, Los Angeles

Heather Christofk is an Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. She earned a B.S. in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCLA in 2001, and a PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology at Harvard in 2007. As a graduate student working with Lewis Cantley, she identified a key protein in cancer metabolism – the M2 splice isoform of pyruvate kinase – and the mechanism by which it contributes to cancer cell proliferation by promoting anabolic glucose metabolism. As a postdoc with Frank McCormick at UCSF, she was introduced to the use of adenovirus for identifying molecular mechanisms important for cancer growth. The goal of Dr. Christofk’s research is to understand the regulation and role of metabolic transitions in cellular transformation, virus infection, and differentiation. She is a Searle Scholar and recipient of the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award.

Christian Metallo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Bioengineering
University of California, San Diego

Christian Metallo joined the University of California, San Diego in 2011 and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering. He received his bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000 before joining Merck Research Laboratories to conduct bioprocess engineering research. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2008 and was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Christian was the recipient of the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Schaffer Young Investigator Award in 2012, a 2013 Searle Scholar Award, and a 2015 NSF CAREER Award


Complimentary parking will be available at Grand Rapids Community College’s (GRCC) Lyon and Bostwick parking ramps. Please note that the GRCC lots are first-come, first-served and typically reach capacity by 8:00 a.m. See the symposium registration desk for parking validation tickets.

The GRCC Lyon Parking Ramp is located one block south of Van Andel Research Institute on Bostwick Ave. NE.

The GRCC Bostwick Parking Ramp is located at the corner of Fountain St. NE and Ransom Ave. NE. From Division Ave., turn east onto Fountain St. NE (this is a one-way street going east up the hill). Continue two blocks east of Division Ave. The GRCC Bostwick Parking Ramp will be on the left (if you cross Ransom Ave. NE, you’ve gone too far).

Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Innovation and Integration Program, Center for Cancer and Cell Biology

Dr. Jeff MacKeigan received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2002. He then served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School. In 2004, he joined Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a project leader in the Molecular and Developmental Pathways expertise platform. He joined the Van Andel Research Institute as an assistant professor in June 2006, and was promoted to associate professor in 2010. In addition to leading his laboratory in the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, he is also the principal investigator directing the Pathway of Hope research initiative.



April 18, 2017
8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


Van Andel Institute
333 Bostwick Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 United States
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