Meet Our Scientists

Van Andel Institute (VAI) is dedicated to exceptional research and to positively impacting human health. Through cutting-edge science and extensive collaboration, VAI’s investigators are working to find new diagnostics and treatments for cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoarthritis and depression. 

VAI’s laboratories are divided into three centers and a core services team, which allows for efficiency and cross-center collaboration.


Research Leadership

VAI Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Jones was born in South Africa, raised and attended college in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and received his Ph.D. from the University of London. He joined the University of Southern California in 1977, attaining the rank of Professor in 1985 and Distinguished Professor in 1999. He also served as Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center between 1993 and 2011.

VAI Associate Director of Research

Dr. Patrik Brundin has more than 30 years of experience studying neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis and therapeutic neural grafting into people with Parkinson’s disease. He is one of the top cited researchers in the field of neuroscience with nearly 300 publications on Parkinson’s disease and related topics.

Center for Epigenetics

The Center for Epigenetics is dedicated to the study of epigenetics and epigenomics in health and disease, with the ultimate goal of developing novel therapies to treat cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The Center collaborates extensively with other labs in other VAI centers as well as with external partners to maximize its impact in developing therapies that target epigenetic mechanisms.

Center for Neurodegenerative Science

The Center for Neurodegenerative Science focuses on the development of novel treatments that slow or stop the progression of neurodegenerative disease, in particular Parkinson’s disease. The Center’s work revolves around three main goals: disease modification, biomarker discovery, and brain repair.

Center for Cancer and Cell Biology

Scientists in the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology study the basic mechanisms of cancer and other diseases with the goal of developing
better diagnostics and therapies.

Skeletal Disease and Cancer Therapeutics

Scientists in the Skeletal Disease and Cancer Therapeutics Program investigate the causes of cancers and other diseases that affect the musculoskeletal system with the goal of developing better treatments to enhance the quality of life for patients. These conditions include neurofibromatosis type 1, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and developmental disorders in addition to bone cancers, such as Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma, and bone metastases.

Structural Biology

The Structural Biology Program is dedicated to revealing the chemical basis for biological systems in health and disease, by combining cutting-edge technologies such as X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy with extensive protein biochemistry.

Metabolic and Nutritional Programming

The Metabolic and Nutritional Programming team aims to develop scientifically driven strategies for improving health through advanced prediction, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Staff Scientists

Emeritus Faculty