Peter Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. Director of Research, Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Institute

Dr. Jones is an internationally renowned researcher with more than 40 years’ experience. He is a pioneer in the field of epigenetics and its role in cancer. Originally from South Africa, Dr. Jones began his career as a research officer/chief research officer in his native land, and was a National Institute of Health Post-Doctoral Fellow at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In 1977, Dr. Jones joined the faculty of Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, where for 14 years he has been a distinguished professor of Urology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He was also the Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center from 1993 to 2011 and President of the American Association for Cancer Research in 2005-2006. Dr. Jones has received a variety of honors for his contributions in the field of epigenetics, including being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010, a MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute, the AACR Kirk A. Landon Prize for Basic Cancer Research in 2009 and the David Workman Memorial Award from the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation in 2008. He is the author of more than 300 journal publications and book chapters.

Steven Jacobsen, Ph.D. Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Jacobsen is a professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology at the University of Califorina, Los Angeles. He conducts his work primarily on epigenetics research focuses including cell memory, or the process by which dividing cells inherit states of gene activity. Dr. Jacobsen’s research targets those epigenetic modifications of chromatin including cytosine DNA methylation and histone modifications, much of which stems from the discovery of a series of hypermethylated epigenetic alleles (SUPERMAN) in Arabidopsis thaliana. Dr. Jacobsen is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on DNA methylation with a proven publication record in many top-tier journals.

Alexander Meissner, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Harvard University

Dr. Meissner is a senior associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and an associate professor in the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. Dr. Meissner is also a principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and a Robertson Investigator at the New York Stem Cell Foundation and is a participant in a project on cellular reprogramming in collaboration with the Klarman Cell Observatory. Dr. Meissner’s laboratory uses genomic tools to study developmental and stem cell biology with a particular focus on the role of epigenetic regulation. Dr. Meissner and his colleagues have pioneered next generation sequencing technologies to study the epigenome in both normal development and disease states.

Martin Schwemmle, Ph.D. Professor, University of Freiburg

Dr. Schwemmle is a professor in the Department of Virology within the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene at the University of Freiburg. Dr. Schwemmle’s laboratory primarily focuses on the investigation of the mechanisms of viral pathogenesis in humans in an effort to develop novel diagnostic tools and to better understand how specific viruses impact human health. Dr. Schwemmle studied in Europe (Germany, Switzerland) as well as the United States, receiving the Hans-Greibach Award as well as multiple research fellowship awards. He has served as Guest Editor, for Virus Research, and as the Editor for the Archives of Virology. He is widely recognized for his work in virology, especially on Influenza and Borna Disease Viruses, and maintains an impressive publication record in the subject.