GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (April 14, 2016)—In recognition of his immeasurable contributions to the understanding of cancer genomics and targeted therapies, Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) will present renowned scientist Matthew L. Meyerson, M.D., Ph.D., with the 2016 Han-Mo Koo Memorial Award. As part of the award, Meyerson will deliver an educational lecture May 19 and a scientific lecture May 20 at the Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“Dr. Meyerson is one of the world’s most influential scientists and is responsible for much of what we know about the genomic causes of cancer,” said VARI’s Chief Scientific Officer Peter Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. “In keeping with the legacy of Dr. Han-Mo Koo, Dr. Meyerson’s research has had an overwhelmingly positive and tangible effect on patients thanks to the therapeutic strategies developed based on his work. We look forward to celebrating and honoring his substantial and exceptional achievements.”
Meyerson’s research helped establish the paradigm that cancer may be treated by targeting its underlying genetic causes. In particular, his lab identified numerous genetic mutations that contribute to lung cancer and uncovered how these mutations respond to targeted therapies. His lab also has developed novel approaches for identifying pathogens that may cause cancer, including bacteria that are linked to colorectal cancer. Earlier in his career, he contributed to key discoveries that expanded the field’s understanding of CDKs, which play crucial roles in cell cycle regulation and can be involved in cancer development, and telomerase, an enzyme that can contribute to tumor progression.
In addition to his roles as director of the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, Meyerson also serves as a lead investigator for The Cancer Genome Atlas, a National Institutes of Health-funded, multi-institutional endeavor to genomically characterize many different cancer types.
The Han-Mo Koo Memorial Award was established in 2010 to honor the memory of Han-Mo Koo, Ph.D., one of VARI’s founding investigators. As head of the Laboratory of Pharmacogenetics, Koo established several important projects focused on the identification of genetic targets for anti-cancer drugs, specifically for melanoma and pancreatic cancer. He passed away in 2004 following a six-month battle with cancer. Awardees are selected based on their scientific achievements, peer recognition and, importantly, their contributions to human health in alignment with Koo’s legacy. Past honorees include Eric Lander, Ph.D.; Frank P. McCormick, Ph.D., FRS; and Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D.
The lectures are free and open to the public. A wine and cheese reception will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, and will be followed by the award presentation and Dr. Meyerson’s educational lecture entitled From cancer genes to cancer treatment at 5:15 p.m. The scientific lecture, Somatic genome alterations in human cancers, will be held at 10 a.m. the next day, Friday, May 20. Registration may be completed at vari.vai.org/event/han-mo-koo-memorial-award/.
ABOUT VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent nonprofit biomedical research and science education organization committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations. Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, VAI has grown into a premier research and educational institution that supports the work of more than 330 scientists, educators and staff. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), VAI’s research division, is dedicated to determining the epigenetic, genetic, molecular and cellular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translating those findings into effective therapies. The Institute’s scientists work in onsite laboratories and participate in collaborative partnerships that span the globe. Learn more about Van Andel Institute or donate by visiting www.vai.org. 100% To Research, Discovery & Hope®