Center for Molecular Medicine Created by Joint Venture

Daniel H. Farkas, Ph.D. Named to Lead Effort to Improve Treatments, Enhance Research

Spectrum Health and Van Andel Institute (VAI) today announced a $6 million joint venture that will offer 21st century molecular technologies for investigation of complex diseases like cancer, heart disease, mental illness and other conditions at the DNA, RNA and protein levels.’

Daniel H. Farkas, Ph.D., a nationally respected leader in the field of molecular diagnostics, has been named Executive Director of the CMM.

The Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM) will provide West Michigan with a cutting-edge laboratory that will aid in early diagnoses and enhance personalized medicine. The Center will also attract new opportunities for diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies to conduct trials in a world-class medical and clinical research environment.

Located in the GVSU Cook-DeVos Center for Health Studies in downtown Grand Rapids, the CMM is a critical complementary element to West Michigan’s commitment to health care and the life sciences. The Center combines Spectrum Health’s clinical, laboratory and research resources, and VAI’s research expertise and intellectual property with the latest in molecular biological technology.

“To fulfill the mission of the Institute, we must move our findings from the research laboratory to the clinical laboratory. The Center for Molecular Medicine will allow us to do this in an accelerated fashion and positively impact human health,” said David Van Andel, Chairman & CEO of Van Andel Institute. “We have the research expertise and Spectrum Health has a large patient population which allows us to apply what we’re learning directly into the clinical setting.”

The result of years of joint planning and development, the CMM was created to leverage new technologies for the purpose of more precise treatment options for patients.’ For example, the completion of the sequencing of the human genome occurred in 2003 and there are many new cutting-edge tools available to take advantage of the wealth of information now available and continually being generated in Grand Rapids’ clinical research laboratories. The CMM will take advantage of technologies such as robotic DNA and RNA extraction, DNA microarrays, multiplex protein detection, gene expression profiling and more.

“The Center for Molecular Medicine is an investment in the future of health care,” said Richard C. Breon, President & CEO, Spectrum Health. “It accelerates the drive toward personalized medicine – the tailoring of treatment based on molecular make-up. We are very fortunate to have an individual of Dan Farkas’ caliber on board as we work to offer physicians and their patients the most advanced diagnostic treatment options available – options typically offered only at the nation’s largest academic medical research centers.

Executive Director Dan Farkas has extensive experience in the biotechnology industry and has established three hospital-based molecular diagnostics laboratories in his nearly 20 years in the field:’ Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston, NJ; William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI; and The Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX.’Farkas has held faculty positions at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Baylor College of Medicine, Michigan State University (adjunct, current) and William Beaumont Hospital.

He has also written extensively on molecular diagnostics, and lectured internationally on the subject.’Farkas was President of the Association for Molecular Pathology in 2003 and is a member of the FDA Clinical and Molecular Genetics Advisory panel.

The CMM expects to ramp up its technological and human resources significantly throughout 2007. More information about the Center for Molecular Medicine can be found at

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and 460,000-member health plan, Priority Health. Spectrum Health’s 13,000 employees, 1,400 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need. The organization provided more than $100 million in community benefit during its 2006 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned more than 50 national awards during the past 10 years. For more information, visit the Awards page on our Web site.

The Van Andel Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to preserving, enhancing, and expanding the frontiers of medical science, and to achieving excellence in education by probing fundamental issues of education and the learning process. Established by the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation, its goals include identifying new cancer genes and their proteins, developing new methods for detecting cancer before it becomes life threatening, and identifying new biological targets for therapeutic intervention.’ For more information, visit