Peter A. Jones, PhD, DSc, is research director and chief scientific officer of the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). He also serves as a distinguished professor and as head of the Laboratory for Cancer Epigenomics.
Born, raised and educated in the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Jones received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of London in 1973. He joined the University of Southern California in 1977, where he attained the rank of professor in 1985 and became director of the cancer center in 1993.
Jones' research concerns how cancer-related genes become heritably silenced during carcinogenesis, resulting in functional inactivation. The primary focus of his research is on DNA cytosine methylation and how this process interacts with chromatin structure to ensure heritable silencing. He is also interested in translating basic scientific discoveries into clinical treatments, specifically for people with bladder cancer. He and his colleagues are working on drugs that can reverse silencing and turn genes back on again, and designing strategies where this kind of epigenetic therapy can be applied to the treatment of human cancers.
A past president of the AACR and deputy editor of Cancer Research, Jones is the author of more than 250 journal publications and book chapters and serves on several national and international committees, panels and editorial boards. He has received a variety of honors, including the University of Southern California Associates Award for Creativity in Research and Scholarship and the Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Cancer Institute. Recently, Jones, along with his colleague Stephen B. Baylin, MD, deputy director of The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, received the Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic and Translational Cancer Research.