Epigenetics Dream Team II - Stand Up To Cancer

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Van Andel Institute–SU2C
Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team:
The Epigenetics Dream Team II

Grant Term: October 2014–September 2020

Epigenetic therapy is an approach to cancer treatment that involves switching key genes on or off to help destroy cancer cells. The Van Andel Institute (VAI)–SU2C Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team II, funded by the Van Andel Institute, continues the original Epigenetics Dream Team’s work to restore normal function to damaged epigenetic mechanisms. To do this, the team employs clinical trials exploring immune sensitization, chemo sensitization, and novel target strategies.

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About This Team’s Research

Epigenetics describes biological processes that cells use to control whether genes are turned on or off without altering the DNA itself. Disruption of epigenetic mechanisms can drive the development of cancer.

Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic modifications are frequently reversible, thus providing opportunities for a new kind of therapy called epigenetic therapy. Using this tactic, targeted therapies cause specific epigenetic changes that return the expression of DNA to its precancerous condition.

Building on the successes of the original SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team, the The VAI–SU2C Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team II is continuing to apply epigenetic therapies in combination with other treatments to multiple types of cancer, with clinical trials in three categories: immune sensitization, chemo sensitization, and novel target strategies.

In its immune sensitization work, the team has combined epigenetic agents with immune checkpoint therapy in lung, blood, and multiple solid cancer patients.

The team’s chemo sensitization strategy involves testing a new epigenetic agent on chemotherapy-resistant colorectal cancer.

And the novel targeting strategies category comprises two projects: a trial using an epigenetic agent with a PARP inhibitor in acute myeloid leukemia patients, and a study of combining a vitamin C supplement with epigenetic agents in blood cancer patients.


The top scientists and researchers on the VAI–SU2C Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team II come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, which leads them to great insights upon collaboration. Learn more about the VAI–SU2C Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team II.

Dream Team Members

Peter A. Jones, PhD, DSc
Van Andel Institute

Stephen Baylin, MD
Johns Hopkins University

Susan Clark, PhD
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Principal Investigator

Anthony El-Khoueiry, MD
University of Southern California
Principal Investigator

Kirsten Grønbæk, MD
University of Copenhagen/Rigshospitalet
Principal Investigator

Jean-Pierre Issa, MD
Coriell Institute for Medical Research
Principal Investigator

Ken Nephew, PhD
Indiana University School of Medicine
Principal Investigator

Feyruz Rassool, MD
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Principal Investigator

Charles Rudin, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Principal Investigator

Beth Flory
Patient Advocate

Patrick Gavin, RPh
Patient Advocate (In memoriam)

Daniel Rodgers
Van Andel Institute
Project Manager

Andrea Poma
Van Andel Institute
Collaboration Project Manager

“There’s a time for individual competition and a time for teamwork. And I think this is the time for teamwork in this particular area. We’ve competed against each other for years … We really need to get together now and make a big push.”

Peter A. Jones, PhD, DSc
Van Andel Institute


Stand Up To Cancer’s research projects are designed to foster collaborative, swift translational research. The hallmarks of these efforts include rigorous application and selection procedures, sufficient funding to allow scientists to focus on the objectives of the grant, and reviews by senior scientists every six months. These reviews help the investigators capitalize on the latest findings, address potential roadblocks, and collaboratively evolve as the science requires. Please click on the link to see summaries of research results so far for the VAI–SU2C Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team II.



Cancer clinical trials allow researchers to study innovative and potentially life-saving new treatments. The goal is to find treatments that are better than what’s currently available; in fact, the therapies offered to today’s cancer patients were almost all studied and made possible by people participating in clinical trials. But many cancer clinical trials aren’t completed because not enough people take part.

At StandUpToCancer.org/ClinicalTrials, you’ll find information and answers to common questions about clinical trials. Learn more and talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial may be the best choice for you.

You can also connect with EmergingMed, a free and confidential clinical trial matching service that provides access to a vast database to help you identify the clinical trials that might be right for you or your loved one.



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