- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - New research laboratories opened by Spectrum Health are seen as a big step in its effort to become an academic institution.

The Basic and Translational Laboratories house the labs for four principal investigators studying a range of adult and pediatric diseases. The labs occupy 8,600 feet of renovated space in the Coopers Landing Building.

“The ability to be able to now go from basic research to translational research to clinical trials opens up a new academic world for Spectrum Health,” Sandra Rempel, Spectrum’s vice president of research, told The Grand Rapids Press (https://bit.ly/1cFbkuK ).

The research programs all complement clinical programs in Spectrum Health, she said.

Rempel came to Spectrum in May 2013 from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where she was associate director of research for the Josephine Ford Cancer Center. As one of the four scientists in the new lab, she will conduct research into brain tumor growth and invasion.

Other researchers include:

Dr. Kirstan Meldrum, the new section chief for pediatric urology at Spectrum’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. She is investigating treatments for obstructions in the urinary tract and ways to repair damaged kidneys.

Dr. Giselle Sholler, the director of the Haworth Family Pediatric Oncology Innovative Therapeutics Clinic at the children’s hospital. Her focus is on treating pediatric cancers, particularly neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma, and researching genomic profiling of tumors.

Dr. Samer Al-Homsi, the director of the adult blood and bone marrow transplant program, is exploring new avenues to prevent graft-vs-host disease.

The four labs will share “support cores” of high-tech equipment and instruments that are generally too expensive for a single principal investigator to purchase, Rempel said.

The four laboratories at Coopers Landing also support 13 new research positions, offering opportunities for medical residents, clinical fellows, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Spectrum will continue to recruit physician-scientists and look for additional lab space, Rempel said. The hospital system also continues to collaborate with researchers at Van Andel Institute and Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, Rempel said.

“We want to maintain really strong relationships with neighboring institutions,” she said. “This gives us another opportunity to further grow our own academic profile.”


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, https://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids



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