In case you missed it: VAI’s spring public lectures now available online

What are biobanks and how do they enable groundbreaking research? What does epigenetics mean and how does it impact cancer?

These are just a couple of the questions our Public Lecture Series has highlighted so far in 2023. These free events bring together VAI scientists, educators and community members to explore the latest in groundbreaking research and impactful education initiatives.

Check out the spring 2023 lectures below. 

Biobanks: The science of samples

The research that drives discoveries in health and disease is fueled by biological samples. These critical specimens allow scientists to investigate how our bodies work when they’re healthy, how they change when we’re sick, and how we can better prevent, predict, diagnose and treat diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and many others.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to treat samples with the utmost care and consistency, a task that requires specialized skills and state-of-the-art facilities called biobanks.

VAI’s Dr. Scott Jewell offers viewers an inside look into the world of biobanking and a snapshot of the ways the Institute’s own biobank is fueling breakthroughs right here in Grand Rapids.

The epigenetic playbook of cancer: Mechanisms and therapeutic opportunities

Every cell in our bodies is home to nearly six feet of DNA, the genetic playbook responsible for making us. But if every cell has the same playbook, how and why does the human body have so many different types of cells that perform different functions? Why do some become skin cells, while others become muscle cells, heart cells or brain cells?

The answer is epigenetics — a complex set of processes that ensure the right plays are run at the right time. Epigenetics processes are vital for maintaining health but, when the wrong plays are called, they can contribute to diseases such as cancer and many others.

VAI’s Dr. Scott Rothbart shares an inside look at how epigenetics is revolutionizing what we know about health and informing new strategies for treating cancer — including a sneak peek into groundbreaking efforts to move breakthroughs from the lab to the clinic.

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