20.05.2020 Views

2018 Annual Report

You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

ANNUAL REPORT

2018


Through biomedical research and science education,

Van Andel Institute is committed to improving the health and

enhancing the lives of current and future generations.

Table of Contents

2 A Letter from David Van Andel

4 Research

6 Rare Diseases, Big Impact

8 Keeping Watch On Our Cellular Clock

10 Fueling Innovation

11 An Art Gallery at the Near-Atomic Level

22 Meeting the Grand Challenge

24 Van Andel Research Institute Scientists Help

Create Cancer “Atlas”

26 Making a Difference Early On

28 Van Andel Institute Graduate School Students

30 Education

32 Honoring and Empowering Teachers

33 High School Students Spend Their Summer

Days at Van Andel Education Institute

44 Donors and Philanthropic Partners (cont.)

44 Purple Community Football Games

46 Purple Community 5K

47 Running Like the Wind

48 Purple Community Breaks a Record

49 Duncan Lake Middle School Students

50 Never Stop Giving Back — Sally Schaafsma

51 Memorials

12 A Surprising Discovery

34 Donors and Philanthropic Partners

51 Society of Hope

14 Meet the Scientist Behind the Science

36 Donor Profile: Alvin and Hylda Tuuk

52 Signature Special Event Sponsors

15 Stand Up To Cancer Global Telecast

37 Donor Profile: Duke Suwyn

53 Institute Leadership Team

16 Van Andel Research Institute’s Principal

Investigators

38 Event Photos

54 Board and Council Members


A LETTER FROM DAVID VAN ANDEL

Dear Friends,

Last fall, Van Andel Institute announced that a team led by

our scientists uncovered groundbreaking new insights into

the appendix’s possible role in Parkinson’s disease. The

team’s discoveries were published in Science Translational

Medicine, and covered by hundreds of major publications

and news networks in every corner of the world. It was a

moment that gave hope to people with Parkinson’s, while

giving scientists new avenues for designing treatments for

this devastating disease. It also was a shining example of

what we are capable of when we work together, guided by

imagination, vision and an unwavering desire to improve

human health.

Discoveries like this are possible because of you — our

most valued donors and supporters. Your belief in our

work and your dedication, commitment and generosity

have served as the Institute’s bedrock since it was founded

in 1996. We are eternally grateful.

You have been with us as we have grown from a small

research institute in West Michigan to an internationally

known epicenter for incredible science, extensive

collaboration and powerfully bold ideas. During the last

year, you’ve stood by our side as we invested in new talent

and technology, created new research programs and

built on the vision articulated by our family more than

two decades ago. We also have continued to move new

discoveries from the lab into clinical trials — thanks to our

collaborative partnerships with organizations like Stand Up

To Cancer and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

In the following pages, you’ll read about new findings in

cancer and Parkinson’s, and the launch of an exciting

metabolism program; meet the talented scientists who

call the Institute home; and learn how we are working

with students and teachers to transform K–12 education.

You’ll also see how your generosity has made a significant,

positive impact on every aspect of our mission.

On behalf of everyone at the Institute, I would like to thank

you for your support, your generous hearts and, most

importantly, your friendship. As we take time to reflect

on the work we’ve done and celebrate a year of great

accomplishments, let’s continue to move ahead together

and build on the amazing achievements described in

these pages.

Warmly,

David Van Andel

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO

2 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 3


Van Andel Research Institute

is a world leader in cancer epigenetics and Parkinson’s disease research.

Collaborating with academia, industry and philanthropy, the Institute

orchestrates cutting-edge clinical trials to improve human health.

Van Andel Institute Graduate School

develops future leaders in biomedical research through an intense,

problem-focused Ph.D. degree in molecular and cellular biology.

4 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 5


RARE DISEASES, BIG IMPACT

RESEARCH

A bench-to-bedside effort to better understand and treat rare diseases aims to

provide answers where there are now only questions.

“Rare diseases are often understudied, which is a real problem when it comes to helping

patients,” said Dr. Matt Steensma, a Van Andel Research Institute scientist, a surgeon at

Spectrum Health and an assistant professor at Michigan State University. “It’s very difficult

to tell someone, ‘we know what you have, but we don’t know what to do about it.’”

More than 7,000 such disorders have been identified to date; some, like Aicardi syndrome,

affect a handful of people while others, such as Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), affect

thousands, but still fall below the 200,000-person cap that marks a disease as rare. An

estimated 25 million people in the U.S. have a rare disease, a large proportion of whom

are children.

Going after the outliers

About nine years ago, Steensma teamed up with Dr. Bart Williams, a bone disease expert

and now director of the Institute’s Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, to create the

Outliers Program, an effort to identify the causes of rare diseases and to find ways to

treat them. Their work is bolstered by the expertise of the Institute’s Bioinformatics and

Biostatistics Core and collaborators at nearby Michigan State University College of

Human Medicine.

At the top of their list was oculoectodermal syndrome (OES), an exceedingly uncommon

disorder first identified in two unrelated patients in Grand Rapids in 1993. When the

Outliers Program began in 2009, only 18 patients had ever been diagnosed with the

disorder, which causes severe lesions on the scalp and debilitating bone growths on

the jaw.

Using samples from one of Steensma’s patients, the team determined the cause of

the disease — a mutation to KRAS, one of the most heavily studied cancer genes. This

discovery placed OES, unquestionably a rare disease, in the middle of the incredible

science and innovation surrounding KRAS and cancer.

“More importantly, our care of the patient was changed for the better,” Steensma said.

The ripple effect

Progress in rare disease research often is hindered by a lack of funding, with dollars

frequently going to more common or better-known diseases. Although this is beginning to

change, philanthropic support remains critical for propelling this promising work forward.

The Outliers Program is a prime example. It is completely funded by donations, including

a grant from Wells Fargo that helped establish the program and continuing support from

Steensma and Williams’ own colleagues through VAI’s Employee Impact Fund (EIF), which is

sustained by the Institute’s employees.

In May, Steensma’s team was awarded a second round of EIF funding, this time to support

research into Aicardi syndrome, a disorder that almost exclusively affects females and

that is characterized by developmental problems in the brain and eyes that may lead to

seizures, learning disabilities and blindness. There have been fewer than 60 documented

cases of the disease in the world.

Finding the mutations that cause rare diseases like OES or Aicardi often have broad

implications; because the systems that keep our bodies up and running are so intricately

intertwined, a discovery in one disease can directly impact what we know about another.

That’s the case with NF1, a disease diagnosed in childhood that causes benign tumors to

grow throughout the body. In 2018, Steensma and Dr. Carrie Graveel, a senior research

scientist in Steensma’s lab, discovered that changes to the gene that causes NF1 also

significantly ups breast cancer risk in women with and without neurofibromatosis.

“We call it the ‘ripple effect’ — often, the science behind why a rare disease occurs is really

the same science as why a cancer occurs,” Steensma said. “By studying rare diseases,

we can help people battling these conditions, while also developing treatments for more

common disorders. It really opens the window to studying the underlying biology in a

different context.”

“More importantly, our care of the patient was changed for the better.”

— DR. MATT STEENSMA

(LEFT TO RIGHT) DR. BART WILLIAMS,

DR. MATT STEENSMA & DR. CARRIE GRAVEEL.

6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 7


KEEPING WATCH ON OUR CELLULAR CLOCK

RESEARCH

In many ways, our futures are written in the history of

our cells.

But before this information can be deciphered, it must be

measured, something that was difficult until recently.

Now, thanks to a team led by investigators at Van Andel

Research Institute (VARI) and Cedars-Sinai, scientists have

a straightforward, computational way to measure cellular

age, a feat that may lead to better, simpler screening and

monitoring methods for cancer and other diseases.

The findings, published in April, reveal a progressive,

measurable loss of special chemical tags that regulate

our genes and are detectable at the earliest stages

of development. These changes continue throughout

a person’s life, correlating with cellular rather than

chronological age and foreshadowing alterations found in

cancer cells.

The work is the result of a long-time collaboration between

senior authors Dr. Peter W. Laird and Dr. Hui Shen of VARI

and Dr. Benjamin Berman then at Cedars-Sinai in Los

Angeles. It builds on a 2011 discovery by Berman and Laird

that first determined loss of these DNA marks — called

methyl groups — occurs in specific areas of the genome in

cancer. However, the techniques used back then were not

able to detect this process occurring in normal cells.

“Our cellular clock starts ticking the moment our cells

begin dividing,” Laird said. “This method allows us to track

the history of these past divisions and measure age-related

changes to the genetic code that may contribute to both

normal aging and dysfunction.”

Each of the nearly 40 trillion cells in the human body

can trace its lineage back to a single, fertilized egg cell

containing the original copy of an individual’s DNA.

Throughout a person’s lifetime, these cells divide, replacing

old or damaged cells at different rates based on factors

such as their function in the body, environmental insults

and wound healing.

Despite undergoing elaborate biological quality control

checks, each cell division chips away at the genome’s

integrity, leaving behind an accumulating number of

changes. Chief among these is a dramatic shift in the

number and location of methyl groups on the genome,

part of a process that begins during fetal development and

continues throughout a lifetime.

“What is striking about the results from our new method is

that they push back the start of this process to the earliest

stages of in utero development,” Berman said. “That was

completely surprising, given the current assumption that

the process begins relatively late on the path to cancer.

This finding also suggests that it may play a functional role

relatively early in the formation of tumors.”

While loss of DNA methyl groups, known as hypomethylation,

is a common feature of many cancers, the mechanisms

behind this phenomenon have until now been largely

unknown. It is more profound in cancers that arise in

tissues with a high turnover rate, such as the skin and the

epithelium, the thin layer of cells that line many organs.

It also features prominently in pediatric cancers such as

medulloblastoma, a rare brain tumor.

“Tissues with higher turnover rates are typically more

susceptible to cancer development simply because there

are more opportunities for errors to accumulate and force

the change from a normal cell to a malignant one,” Shen

said. “What we’re seeing is a normal process — cellular

aging — augmented and accelerated once a cell becomes

cancerous. The cumulative effect is akin to a runaway

freight train.”

Analysis and data interpretation for the project were led

by Dr. Wanding Zhou, a postdoctoral fellow in the labs of

Laird, Shen and VARI Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Peter A.

Jones, along with co-first author Dr. Huy Q. Dinh, at the

time a project scientist in Berman’s lab at the Cedars-Sinai

Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics. The

study encompassed 39 diverse tumors and more than

340 human and 200 mouse datasets — the most in-depth

study of its kind — and would not have been possible

without massive swaths of publicly accessible data from

large-scale sequencing projects, including The Cancer

Genome Atlas.

“This research project is a great example of combining

our own data with externally available datasets to

discover something new,” Zhou said. “If the project had

been completed three years ago, the storyline would

have been slightly different. Now, thanks to access to

broader data, we can see that our method reveals a more

general principle that extends all the way back to early

development.”

In addition to Zhou, Dinh, Shen, Laird and Berman, authors

include Zachary Ramjan of VARI; and Dr. Daniel J. Weisenberger

and Dr. Charles M. Nicolet, of University of Southern California

Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 9


FUELING INNOVATION THE INSTITUTE ESTABLISHES METABOLISM AND NUTRITION PROGRAM

AN ART GALLERY AT THE NEAR-ATOMIC LEVEL

RESEARCH

On the surface, diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and

diabetes appear vastly different.

But go deeper and you’ll find that they are linked by a

common thread, one that scientists hope will lead to new

ways to prevent, diagnose and treat these disorders along

with a range of other health problems that plague people

around the world.

That connector is metabolism, a set of chemical reactions

that fuel everyday life, from keeping the heart beating

to powering the body’s immune defenses. Although

metabolism is a central part of human health and wellbeing,

there’s still much that we don’t know about how it

works and how it contributes to a host of health problems.

That’s why, in the fall, Van Andel Research Institute (VARI)

established the most comprehensive metabolism research

program of its kind, aimed at developing scientifically

driven strategies for improving health and for preventing

and treating disease.

“Metabolism is involved in every process in the body, from

big, system-level things like our immune system down to

smaller-scale things like the life cycles of individual cells,”

said Dr. Russell Jones, the program’s leader, who joined the

Institute in 2018. “We have so much to learn. It is our hope

that we can leverage what we find to prevent disease and

to better treat it when it does occur.”

Metabolism is akin to a biological power plant — when

there’s an outage, people who depend on that plant’s

electricity aren’t able to go about their business efficiently

or, perhaps, even at all. The same is true for our cells; if

the body’s metabolism doesn’t supply enough energy, cells

can’t carry out the necessary functions to keep us healthy.

This collaborative effort comprises six laboratories, four

of which are new, to investigate the full spectrum of

metabolism, from dietary influences and their impact

through the generations to how cancer cells hijack

metabolic processes to invade healthy tissue.

It’s an urgent mission, spurred by a looming increase in the

incidence of many of the world’s most challenging diseases.

This new program is a catalyst, one that will rally the

collaborative spirit of the Institute and connect all aspects

of its research to create a healthier future.

Learn more at vai.org.

METABOLIC & NUTRITIONAL PROGRAMMING TEAM (LEFT TO

RIGHT) DR. ADELHEID LEMPRADL, DR. NING WU, DR. J. ANDREW

POSPISILIK, DR. CONNIE KRAWCZYK, DR. RUSSELL JONES &

DR. BRIAN HAAB.

Two years ago, Van Andel Research Institute became home to one of the world’s most powerful microscopes,

which is capable of visualizing the building blocks of life in stunning clarity. Called cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-

EM), this technique is rapidly changing how we understand the very basis of biology and could lead to improved

therapies for dozens of diseases. Here is a quick look at a few of the molecules and molecular complexes imaged

by VARI’s cryo-EM in 2018.

Assembly mechanism of E. coli pili

Dr. Huilin Li

E. coli bacteria are the main culprit behind

urinary tract infections, which affect more

than 150 million people worldwide each

year. Using cryo-EM, Dr. Huilin Li and

collaborators determined the architecture

of the mechanism responsible for building

the hair-like structures, or pili, that the

bacteria use to infect the kidneys and

bladder. Their work may lead to more

precise antimicrobial therapies that target

E. coli but spare healthy cells.

The protein TRPM2

Dr. Juan Du and Dr. Wei Lü

TRPM2 is a protein found throughout

the body that aids in regulating core

body temperature, mediating immune

responses and governing apoptosis, the

programmed death of cells. This central

role in so many important processes

makes it a promising drug target,

particularly for Alzheimer’s disease and

bipolar disorder. TRPM2 belongs to TRP

superfamily, a group of proteins that play

an important role in the body’s response

to sensory stimuli, such as pain, pressure

and temperature. It is the second TRP

protein determined by Lü and Du; in

2017, they visualized TRPM4, which helps

regulate blood supply to the brain.

The protein TRPC3

Dr. Wei Lü and Dr. Juan Du

The protein TRPC3 can be found in the

brain and smooth muscles, where it

helps regulate the formation of nerves.

Problems with TRPC3 can contribute to

neurodegenerative diseases, abnormal

thickening of the heart muscle and ovarian

cancer. Now that its structure is known,

scientists have high hopes that it may be

useful as a drug target for treating these

diseases and many others.

A GPCR bound to an inhibitory G protein

Dr. Eric Xu and Dr. Karsten Melcher

For the first time, scientists have

visualized the interaction between two

critical components of the body’s cellular

communication network, a discovery that

could lead to more effective medications

with fewer side effects for conditions

ranging from migraine to cancer. The

near-atomic resolution images, made

possible by cryo-EM, show a G-protein

coupled receptor (GPCR) called rhodopsin

bound to an inhibitory G protein, and

provides a blueprint for designing more

precise, selective drugs while also solving a

longstanding problem in the field.

10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 11


A SURPRISING DISCOVERY HOW THE APPENDIX IS TRANSFORMING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF PARKINSON’S

RESEARCH

When it comes to Parkinson’s disease, the appendix is

usually not the first thing that springs to mind — but

perhaps it should be, according to Van Andel Research

Institute’s (VARI) Dr. Viviane Labrie.

In October, she and her colleagues published revolutionary

new findings that peg the appendix as a starting point for

Parkinson’s, a discovery that provides a path forward for

devising powerful new ways to predict and possibly prevent

the disease. The findings were hailed as a major — and

surprising — breakthrough by scientists around the world.

“We’re in the midst of a watershed moment in Parkinson’s

research,” Labrie said. “Right now, there are no ways to

prevent, slow or stop Parkinson’s, or even to objectively

diagnose it prior to the onset of motor symptoms. We are

extremely hopeful that our work will help change that.”

The findings come at a time when experts are warning of a

looming Parkinson’s epidemic, largely the result of an aging

global population. Between 1990 and 2015, the prevalence

of Parkinson’s doubled to an estimated 7 million people

worldwide. By 2040, the number is expected to double

again.

The team’s research shows that removing the appendix —

a surgery called an appendectomy — significantly reduces

the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by eliminating a

major reservoir for abnormal proteins linked to its onset.

Called alpha-synuclein, these proteins travel from cell

to cell, clumping together and clogging up the cellular

machinery required for normal, healthy function.

Their results also indicate that people who have had their

appendix removed early in their lives are 19 percent less

likely to develop Parkinson’s. In people who live in rural

areas, that number is even higher, with appendectomies

reducing the risk of developing the disease by 25 percent.

Parkinson’s often is more prevalent in rural populations,

which studies suggest may be related to pesticide

exposure.

That’s not all. The findings also show that appendectomy

may slow the disease’s progress, pushing back diagnosis by

an average of 3.6 years. Because diagnosing Parkinson’s is

closely tied to onset of movement-related symptoms, this

means people have more time before these symptoms

become pronounced enough to be noticed.

There is an important caveat, however. Removal of the

appendix — and the Parkinson’s-associated alphasynuclein

proteins contained within it — must occur before

the disease process begins to impact risk. This window

of time can vary from person to person, with evidence

suggesting the disease process starts as early as 20 years

before diagnosis.

Removal of the appendix also doesn’t appear to prevent or

delay Parkinson’s in people whose disease has an evident

genetic cause — a group that comprises less than 10

percent of those with Parkinson’s disease.

Labrie and her colleagues stress that people shouldn’t

opt for an appendectomy as a way to mitigate risk for two

major reasons. First, despite its undeserved reputation

as useless, the appendix actually acts as an important

storehouse for bacteria that play a role in the immune

system. Secondly, appendectomy only demonstrated

benefit decades before the onset of Parkinson’s and would

not be protective in people who have already developed

the disease. It’s also worth noting that all surgeries carry

risk and that, while appendectomy reduced the chances of

developing Parkinson’s, it did not eliminate the disease.

Instead, Labrie said, this discovery could lead to new ways

to more effectively reduce the levels of alpha-synuclein

proteins before they cause Parkinson’s.

“There are up-and-coming new medications designed to

break up these problematic protein clumps undergoing

rigorous testing in clinical trials,” she said. “If successful,

we could have a new way to interfere with disease

progression, an urgent unmet need and something current

treatments can’t do.”

“Right now, there are no ways to prevent, slow or stop Parkinson’s, or even to objectively diagnose it prior to the

onset of motor symptoms. We are extremely hopeful that our work will help change that.”

— DR. VIVIANE LABRIE

In an unexpected turn, Labrie and her team also found

alpha-synuclein pathology in the appendixes of healthy

people of all ages as well as people with Parkinson’s,

raising new questions about the mechanisms that cause

the disease and propel its progression. Prior to this study,

alpha-synuclein pathology was thought to only be present

in people with Parkinson’s.

“We found alpha-synuclein pathology in people of all ages,

and with and without the disease, which suggests that it

is not unique to Parkinson’s,” Labrie said. “Parkinson’s is

relatively rare — less than 1 percent of the population —

so there has to be some other mechanism or confluence

of events at play that allows the appendix to affect

Parkinson’s risk. That’s what we plan to look at next —

which factor or factors tip the scale in favor of Parkinson’s?”

Data for the study was gleaned from an in-depth

characterization and visualization of alpha-synuclein forms

in the appendix, which bore a remarkable resemblance

to those found in the Parkinson’s disease brain, as well

as analyses of two large health-record databases. The

first dataset was garnered from the Swedish National

Patient Registry, a one-of-a-kind database that contains

de-identified medical diagnoses and surgical histories for

the Swedish population beginning in 1964, and Statistics

Sweden, a Swedish governmental agency responsible for

official national statistics. The VARI team collaborated with

researchers at Lund University, Sweden, to comb through

records for 1,698,000 people followed up to 52 years, a

total of nearly 92 million person-years. The second dataset

was from the Parkinson’s Progression Marker Initiative

(PPMI), which includes details about patient diagnosis, age

of onset, demographics and genetic information.

“The expansion of Parkinson’s disease

research into areas outside of the brain

and affecting the GI tract and immune

system has really opened the door for

understanding this illness,” Labrie said.

“We know more about disease initiation

than ever before and are committed to

leveraging our findings to improve patients’

lives.”

In addition to Labrie, authors include

Dr. Bryan A. Killinger, Zachary Madaj,

Dr. Lena Brundin, Dr. Patrik Brundin, Alec J.

Haas, Yamini Vepa of Van Andel Research Institute; Dr. Jacek W.

Sikora and Dr. Paul M. Thomas of Northwestern University; Dr.

Nolwen Rey of Paris-Saclay Institute of Neuroscience; Dr. Daniel

Lindqvist of Lund University; and Dr. Honglei Chen of Michigan

State University.

(FROM TOP CLOCKWISE) DR. VIVIANE LABRIE, DR. LENA BRUNDIN, DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN, DR. BRYAN A. KILLINGER & ZACHARY MADAJ.

12 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 13


MEET THE SCIENTIST BEHIND THE SCIENCE: Q&A WITH DR. VIVIANE LABRIE

RESEARCH

Dr. Viviane Labrie is an assistant professor

in Van Andel Research Institute’s Center

for Neurodegenerative Science. Her team

studies the dynamic interplay between

the human genome and its control system

— the epigenome — to understand how

neurodegenerative diseases start and

progress in an effort to develop improved

diagnostics and treatments.

In 2018, Labrie was the senior author of

a study published in Science Translational

Medicine that suggested the appendix

may contribute to Parkinson’s disease and

revealed it as a major reservoir for abnormally

folded alpha-synuclein proteins, which are

closely linked to Parkinson’s onset and

How would you describe your research to someone

unfamiliar with science?

I work as a neuroscientist and a geneticist. I study the

origins of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. I

try to understand what is happening at the cellular level

that may cause changes that could lead to these two

neurodegenerative diseases.

Specifically, I study different mechanisms in the cells that

affect the way DNA works. There is the DNA code, then

there is a second code that sits on top of the DNA called

epigenetics. Epigenetics is almost like a coat the DNA

wears. When the coat opens, readers of the DNA can come

in, and then that part of the DNA can be activated — but

when it’s closed, these readers can’t access the DNA and

those genes in that section of DNA remain silent. In this

way, the epigenetic code is able to guide how genes work

and determine how they affect the function of cells.

The epigenetic code can be inherited, meaning you can

get it from your mom and dad, but it can also change

because of environmental factors throughout a lifetime.

The foods you eat, how much sleep you get or how much

stress you have can also play a role in epigenetics. The

epigenetic code greatly affects how your cells work and

can be both inherited and changed by your environmental

experiences. We think that changes in this epigenetic code

might have a significant function in the development of

neurodegenerative diseases.

In your field of study what do you see on the horizon?

We are trying to understand how epigenetic changes play

a part in the development of neurodegenerative diseases,

and we are also trying to understand the mechanisms

behind these changes.

We are also very interested in the role of the

gastrointestinal (GI) tract in Parkinson’s disease. We’ve

noticed that the pathology associated with Parkinson’s

disease, which is a clumped protein called alpha-synuclein,

can be seen in the GI tract many years before the

symptoms of Parkinson’s occur. There is a hypothesis

that suggests environmental factors might play a role

in clumping of the protein in the GI tract, and we are

interested in how epigenetics might influence this

process because of how responsive epigenetics is to the

environment.

How does alpha-synuclein get from the gut to the

brain?

Alpha-synuclein can travel from neuron to neuron, and

we think that it can spread through conduits like the

vagus nerve that connects the GI tract to the brain.

Scientists have found that Parkinson’s pathology often

starts where the vagus nerve connects to the brain. Once

the pathology occurs at this spot, it can move between

neurons, eventually reaching an area where there are a

lot of dopaminergic neurons that it destroys, which leads

to the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. We

are studying the factors that could be responsible for the

initiation of Parkinson’s pathology in the GI tract and its

eventual transit to the brain.

STAND UP TO CANCER

GLOBAL TELECAST

The Institute was part of the 2018 Stand Up To Cancer

(SU2C) telecast, which raised a record-breaking $123

million for cancer research.

The Institute has worked closely with Stand Up To

Cancer since 2014, when it became home to the

Van Andel Research Institute–Stand Up To Cancer

Epigenetics Dream Team, a multi-institutional effort to

move more effective cancer therapies into clinical trials

and onto the patients who need them most.

Ann Schoen, a cancer survivor and VAI employee

for 22 years, was featured in the special’s Everyday

Heroes segment honoring cancer survivors.

progression.

DR. VIVIANE LABRIE

DR. STEPHEN BAYLIN, ANN SCHOEN & DR. PETER A. JONES.

14 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 15


MEET VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE’S PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

RESEARCH

Van Andel Research Institute is home to a growing team of scientists dedicated to improving the health and enhancing

the lives of current and future generations through groundbreaking biomedical research. In 2018, eight new principal

investigators joined the Institute, growing the number of faculty to 39 — an all-time high for VARI.

LEADERSHIP

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)

Chief Scientific Officer

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon), is

a pioneer in epigenetics, a growing

field that explores how genes

are regulated and provides new

avenues for developing therapies

for cancer and other diseases. His discoveries have helped

usher in an entirely new class of drugs that have been

approved to treat blood cancer and are being investigated

in other tumor types. Dr. Jones is a member of the National

Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts

and Sciences among other prestigious societies. He and his

colleague Dr. Stephen Baylin co-lead the Van Andel Research

Institute–Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team.

Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Director of Research;

Director, Center for

Neurodegenerative Science

Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.,

investigates molecular mechanisms

in Parkinson’s disease with the goal

of developing new therapies aimed at slowing or stopping

disease progression and repairing damage. He is one of

the top-cited researchers in the field of neurodegenerative

disease and leads international efforts to repurpose drugs

to treat Parkinson’s.

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D.

Director, Center for

Epigenetics; Professor,

Metabolic and Nutritional

Programming, Center for

Cancer and Cell Biology

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D., seeks

to understand how we become who we become, and how

our disease susceptibility is defined from early on in life,

even before conception, with the long-term goal of being

able to predict lifelong health outlook at birth.

Bart Williams, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Cancer

and Cell Biology; Professor,

Skeletal Disease and Cancer

Therapeutics, Center for

Cancer and Cell Biology

Bart Williams, Ph.D., studies the

building blocks of bone growth on behalf of the millions

suffering from diseases such as osteoporosis. He seeks

new ways of altering cell signaling pathways to encourage

healthy bone development and deter the spread of cancer

to the skeleton.

Scott Jewell, Ph.D.

Director, Core Technologies

and Services

Scott Jewell, Ph.D., leads Van Andel

Research Institute’s Core

Technologies and Services,

which provides technology and

specialized expertise for research investigators. Services

include bioinformatics and biostatistics, cryo-EM, optical

imaging, flow cytometry, genomics, pathology and

biorepository, vivarium management and transgenics.

Jewell is a past president of the International Society for

Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER).

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D.

Dean, Van Andel Institute

Graduate School

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., is

the dean of Van Andel Institute

Graduate School. His lab, which

closed in 2018 after 31 years of

productive research, explored the genetic and epigenetic

control systems of viruses to understand how infections

progress and to reveal new ways to stop them. His

discoveries with herpes simplex viruses opened up

new possibilities for antiviral drug development and

revealed new insights into how human cells control gene

expression.

CENTER FOR EPIGENETICS

Stephen Baylin, M.D.

Director’s Scholar

Stephen Baylin, M.D., studies the

body’s genetic control systems —

called epigenetics — searching for

vulnerabilities in cancer. Baylin is a

leader in this field, ranking among

the first to trace epigenetic causes of cancer. His studies

have led to new therapies for common cancers, like breast,

lung, colorectal and many others. He is co-leader of the

VARI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team with Dr. Peter A.

Jones, co-director of Johns Hopkins’ Cancer Biology Division

and associate director for research at Sidney Kimmel

Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Stefan Jovinge, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, VARI; Medical

Director of Research,

Spectrum Health Frederick

Meijer Heart and Vascular

Institute; Director, DeVos

Cardiovascular Research

Program (a joint effort between Van Andel

Research Institute and Spectrum Health)

Stefan Jovinge, M.D., Ph.D., develops ways to help the heart

heal itself and has led dozens of clinical trials in regenerative

medicine. As a critical care cardiologist and scientist, he

uses a bench-to-bedside approach in an effort to give

patients with serious heart conditions longer, healthier lives.

The clinical platform for his research is the Cardiothoracic

Intensive Care Unit at Spectrum Health’s Fred and Lena

Meijer Heart Center, and the basic science effort in

regenerative medicine is performed at VARI.

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D.

Professor

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D., seeks

a detailed understanding of

the molecular foundations of

cancer with a particular focus

on identifying crucial epigenetic

alterations that convert otherwise healthy cells into cancer

cells. He is widely regarded as an international leader

in this effort and has helped design some of the world’s

state-of-the art tools to aid in epigenetics research. Laird is

a principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute’s

Genome Data Analysis Network and played a leadership

role in The Cancer Genome Atlas, a multi-institutional effort

to molecularly map cancers.

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.

Professor

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D., studies how

the body switches genes on and

off, a biological process called

methylation that, when faulty,

can lead to cancer or other

diseases. His studies range from the effects of tobacco

smoke on genetic and epigenetic systems to the discovery

of a mechanism that may help protect the brain from

neurodegeneration. Pfeifer’s studies have implications

across a range of diseases, including cancer, Parkinson’s,

diabetes and many others.

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D., studies

the ways in which cells pack and

unpack DNA. This complex process

twists and coils roughly two meters

of unwound DNA into a space less

than one-tenth the width of a human hair. Although this

process is impressive, it is also subject to errors that can

cause cancer and other disorders. Rothbart seeks new

targets for drug development in this process.

Hui Shen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Hui Shen, Ph.D., develops new

approaches to cancer prevention,

detection and treatment by studying

the interaction between genes

and their control systems, called

epigenetics. Her research focuses on women’s cancers,

particularly ovarian cancer, and has shed new light on the

underlying mechanisms of other cancer types, including

breast, kidney and prostate cancers.

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.

Professor

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D., investigates

the mechanisms that regulate

DNA and gene expression in an

effort to better understand how

they impact cancer development.

16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 17


MEET VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE’S PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

RESEARCH

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D., studies the

flow of epigenetic information

from parents to their offspring,

with a focus on how epigenetic

markers are remodeled during

egg and sperm production and how these markers

are rewritten after fertilization. These processes

have profound implications for fertility and embryo

development. Disturbances in epigenetic remodeling are

thought to contribute to disease conditions lasting well

into adulthood.

Timothy J. Triche, Jr., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

As a statistician and computational

biologist with an interest in clonal

evolution and cancers of the

blood, Tim Triche, Jr.’s, Ph.D., work

focuses on wedding data-intensive

molecular phenotyping to adaptive clinical trial designs

in an effort to accelerate the pace of drug targeting and

development in rare or refractory diseases.

Hong Wen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Hong Wen, Ph.D., investigates

the fundamental mechanisms

of pediatric cancers caused

by dysregulation of epigenetic

regulators, in hopes of developing

new, improved therapies for these devastating diseases.

CENTER FOR NEURODEGENERATIVE SCIENCE

José Brás, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Dr. José Brás is a molecular

geneticist whose research focuses

on how variations in our genes

impact the onset and progression

of neurodegenerative diseases

such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia with Lewy

bodies.

Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor

As a psychiatrist and a scientist,

Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.,

seeks ways to diagnose and

treat depression and suicidality

by studying inflammation of

the nervous system. Her findings may lead to earlier

interventions for depressive patients and to the

development of a new class of antidepressants that

targets the immune system. She also investigates how

inflammatory mechanisms can damage nerve cells in

Parkinson’s disease.

Hong-Yuan Chu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professo

Hong-Yuan Chu, Ph.D., investigates

how and why dopamine-producing

cells die off in Parkinson’s, a

process that underlies many of

the disease’s hallmark symptoms.

He plans to leverage this new knowledge to develop new,

more precise ways to slow or stop disease progression.

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D.

Professor

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D., searches

the human genome for minuscule

changes that contribute to the onset,

progression and drug resistance of

many diseases, including cancer,

Parkinson’s, and rare and heritable disorders. His team

deploys genome sequencing technologies and highpowered

computational arrays to tease out patterns and

interactions of markers and treatment targets from among

the human genome’s more than 3 billion DNA base pairs.

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D., is a

neurogeneticist who studies

the genomic contributors to

neurodegenerative diseases such

as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s

disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Viviane Labrie, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Viviane Labrie, Ph.D., studies

the dynamic interplay between

the human genome and

its control system — the

epigenome — to understand how

neurodegenerative diseases start and progress in an effort

to develop improved diagnostics and treatments. Labrie’s

scientific pursuits have deepened the understanding of

conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia

and lactose intolerance. She has also developed new

methods for epigenome analysis.

Jiyan Ma, Ph.D.

Professor

Jiyan Ma, Ph.D., studies

abnormal proteins that cause

neurodegenerative diseases,

including Parkinson’s disease

and prion diseases. His lab has

developed new ways to understand how these proteins

spread and cause diseases in humans and animals. The

lab is also developing new approaches to diagnose and

treat these devastating disorders.

Darren Moore, Ph.D.

Professor

Darren Moore, Ph.D., seeks

new diagnostic and treatment

approaches for Parkinson’s by

investigating the inherited form

of the disease, which accounts

for 5 to 10 percent of cases. He aims to translate the

understanding of these genetic mutations into better

treatments and new diagnostic tools for Parkinson’s, both

inherited and non-inherited. Discoveries in Moore’s lab

routinely elucidate the faulty molecular interactions that

transform healthy, functioning neurons into diseased ones.

CENTER FOR CANCER AND CELL BIOLOGY

Skeletal Disease and Cancer Therapeutics

Patrick Grohar, M.D., Ph.D.

Program Leader and Associate

Professor

Patrick Grohar, M.D., Ph.D.,

develops new drugs to treat bone

cancer in children, in addition to

pursuing a deeper understanding

of the mechanisms underlying sarcomas and related

conditions. Once proven safe and effective in the lab, his

team translates these potential therapies into clinical trials

for children with few other options. He is program leader

of the Skeletal Disease and Cancer Therapeutics team,

an associate professor in the Center for Cancer and Cell

Biology and a pediatric oncologist at Spectrum Health

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Xiaohong Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Xiaohong Li, Ph.D., studies how and

why various cancers, particularly

prostate and breast cancer cells,

migrate from their original site

and spread to the bone. These

cells stay dormant but might wake up years later and

grow to become bone metastases, causing debilitating

pain and complicating treatment. Li hopes that a better

understanding of metastatic cancers will lead to new

diagnostic tests and targeted therapies.

Matt Steensma, M.D.

Assistant Professor

Matt Steensma, M.D., studies the

genetic and molecular factors

that cause benign tumors to

become cancers in order to

find vulnerabilities that may

be targeted for treatment. As a scientist at VARI and a

practicing surgeon at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos

Children’s Hospital, he is committed to translating scientific

discoveries into treatments that improve patients’ lives.

Tao Yang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Tao Yang, Ph.D., studies the

signaling systems that govern

skeletal stem cells and the role

they play in diseases such as

osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Bones are the largest producer of adult stem cells, which

mature into cartilage, fat or bone tissue — a process

that falters with age. Yang seeks a better understanding

of these systems in search of new treatments for

degenerative bone disorders.

18 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 19


MEET VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE’S PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

RESEARCH

Structural Biology

Huilin Li, Ph.D.

Program Leader and Professor

Huilin Li, Ph.D., uses cryo-electron

microscopy (cryo-EM) to reveal

the most basic building blocks of

DNA replication and other systems

vital for life. He has been at the

vanguard of cryo-EM for more than 20 years, and his

research has implications for some of the world’s most

critical public health concerns, including tuberculosis,

cancer, mental illness and many more.

Juan Du, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Juan Du, Ph.D., seeks to understand

the brain’s intricate communication

systems using state-of-the-art

structural biology approaches,

such as cryo-EM. Her work has

expanded knowledge of these important systems and may

aid in development of new therapies in the future.

Wei Lü, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Wei Lü, Ph.D., is working to unravel

how brain cells communicate with

each other. Using techniques

such as cryo-EM, his work

has contributed to the field’s

understanding of molecules that play crucial roles in the

development and function of the nervous system.

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D.

Professor

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D., studies

molecular structure and cellular

communication, which have

implications for finding new

treatments for serious health

threats, including cancer, diabetes and obesity. His

expertise extends beyond human cells — his research into

plant hormones may one day lead to heartier crops that

resist drought and help meet the nutritional demands of a

growing global population.

H. Eric Xu, Ph.D.

Professor

H. Eric Xu, Ph.D., explores the

structure of molecules in the body’s

complex hormone signaling system,

which plays a vital role in health and

disease. He is particularly known for

his discoveries in defining the structure of molecules critical

to the development of new drugs for cancer, diabetes and

many others. He is a professor in VARI’s Center for Cancer

and Cell Biology and serves as director of VARI–SIMM

Research Center in Shanghai, China.

Metabolic And Nutritional Programming

Russell Jones, Ph.D.

Program Leader and Professor

Russell Jones, Ph.D., investigates

metabolism at the cellular level

to understand how it affects cell

behavior and health, with a specific

eye on cancer and the immune system. By revealing how

cancer cells use metabolic processes to fuel their growth

and spread, he hopes to develop new treatments that help

patients by changing the standard of care for cancer.

Brian Haab, Ph.D.

Professor; Assistant Dean,

Van Andel Institute Graduate

School

Brian Haab, Ph.D., searches for

new ways to diagnose and stratify

pancreatic cancers based on the

chemical fingerprints tumors leave behind. Part of the

problem Haab aims to solve is that cancers often look

and behave normally — until after they’ve started making

people sick. Haab is sleuthing out clues to build a library of

diagnostic tools that will help providers diagnose tumors

earlier and optimize treatment.

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.,

investigates the links between

metabolism, epigenetics and the

immune system, with the goal of

understanding how they work

together to keep us healthy and, when things go wrong, to

promote disease.

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D., is

investigating how the dietary

choices of parents may impact

the health of their offspring in the

hopes of translating her findings

into new ways to prevent disease and create a healthier

future.

Ning Wu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Ning Wu, Ph.D., investigates

the interface between cellular

metabolism and cellular signaling,

particularly as they relate to cancer.

On the most basic level, cancer is a

disease of uncontrolled cell growth, and Wu believes that

understanding a tumor’s voracious energy requirements

and altered signaling pathways will lead to new treatments

that optimize existing combination therapies and identify

novel therapeutic targets.

EMERITUS FACULTY

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scientific Fellow,

Emeritus

George Vande Woude, Ph.D., is a

titan in cancer biology. He is the

founding director of Van Andel

Research Institute, which he led

for a decade. His discovery and description of the MET

receptor tyrosine kinase as an oncogene, together with

its activating ligand hepatocyte growth factor, have led to

new possibilities for cancer therapies and revolutionized

the way scientists view the disease, especially in tumor

progression. He is a member of the National Academy of

Sciences.

By the Numbers

118 peer-reviewed

publications

8 new faculty

39 total faculty

32 countries

represented by

VAI employees

20 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 21


MEETING THE GRAND CHALLENGE OF NON-MOTOR SYMPTOMS IN PARKINSON’S DISEASE

RESEARCH

In September, the Institute hosted its annual Grand

Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease scientific symposium

and parallel Rallying to the Challenge meeting.

Nearly 300 scientists, physicians and people with

Parkinson’s spent two days intensely focused on the

non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, a diverse group of

problems that include depression, loss of sense of smell,

gastrointestinal issues, cognitive decline, trouble sleeping

and fatigue. Not only do these issues play a major role in

quality of life, they also provide important clues for better

understanding a condition that affects 7 to 10 million

people worldwide.

Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease and Rallying to the

Challenge also provide a platform to recognize scientific

excellence and service to the Parkinson’s community. We

were honored to present the 2018 Jay Van Andel Award for

Outstanding Achievement in Parkinson’s Disease Research

to Prof. K. Ray Chaudhuri, an international authority whose

research and scientific expertise has greatly expanded

understanding of non-motor symptoms and reinforced the

importance of addressing them to improve quality of life.

The 2018 Jay Van Andel Award

for Outstanding Achievement in

Parkinson’s Disease Research

was given to scientists who have

made exceptional contributions to

Parkinson’s disease research and

who have positively impacted

human health.

The award was established in 2012 in memory of Institute

founder Jay Van Andel, who battled Parkinson’s disease

for a decade before his death in 2004. The award is given

to scientists who have made exceptional contributions

to Parkinson’s disease research and who have positively

impacted human health.

The Institute and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust also

presented Dr. Simon Stott and Prof. Bastiaan Bloem with

the Tom Isaacs Award, which was established in memory

of the Trust’s co-founder and champion of the Parkinson’s

community Tom Isaacs. The annual honor recognizes

individuals who have had a significant impact on the lives

of people with Parkinson’s and/or involved people with

Parkinson’s in a participatory way in their work.

Since 2015, Stott has run Science of Parkinson’s, a website

dedicated to translating the complex research surrounding

the disease and new breakthroughs into an accessible,

patient-friendly format.

Bloem is the co-founder and medical director of Parkinson

Centre Nijmegen and co-director of ParkinsonNet at

Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

ParkinsonNet provides patients across the Netherlands

increased access to Parkinson’s experts via the internet

and in person, making it easier for patients to get the care

they need.

Chaudhuri, Stott and Bloem are tireless advocates for

the Parkinson’s community, whose inclusive work and

extensive outreach helps shrink the gap between scientists

and people with the disease. They embody the spirit of

Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease and Rallying to the

Challenge — that together, we can find ways to slow or

stop the disease and improve quality of life for people

around the world.

THE 2018 GRAND CHALLENGES IN

PARKINSON’S DISEASE SYMPOSIUM &

RALLYING TO THE CHALLENGE MEETING.

22 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 23


VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE SCIENTISTS HELP CREATE CANCER “ATLAS”

RESEARCH

Just as a map (or these days, a GPS) can help you get to your destination, a new

comprehensive atlas is helping scientists hit the mark when it comes to more

accurately classifying cancers.

In April, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network, an initiative spearheaded by

the National Institutes of Health, published its final batch of 29 studies detailing precise

— and often subtle — molecular variations in 33 major types of cancer. The findings are

the result of more than a decade of work by scientists in the U.S. and abroad, including

Institute investigators Dr. Peter W. Laird and Dr. Hui Shen, and already are impacting how

cancers are classified and studied.

“TCGA’s findings have greatly deepened our molecular understanding of the major cancer

types,” Laird said. “It is our hope that this work will serve as a guide for scientists who plan

to harness TCGA’s robust data to develop new, more personalized methods of patient

care.”

This research, which represents the initiative’s capstone, joins dozens of other papers that

have been published since TCGA’s inception in 2005. Collectively, they provide a highly

detailed description of molecular changes occurring in all major human cancers along

with insights that could revolutionize cancer treatment.

“It is our hope that this work will serve as a guide for

scientists who plan to harness TCGA’s robust data to

develop new, more personalized methods of patient care.”

— Dr. Peter W. Laird

Major takeaways include:

Cancers should be classified based on genetic, epigenetic and molecular

differences.

Historically, cancers have been categorized and named based on the organ or tissue in

which they arose — for example, cancers that start in the esophagus have been called

esophageal cancers and were believed to have a lot in common with other cancers found

in the esophagus.

TCGA’s findings urge a shift away from this view, based on new insight into the incredibly

complex factors that influence and differentiate one cancer from another. In short, this

means that a cancer found in the lower part of the esophagus may actually have more in

common with a stomach cancer than other esophageal cancers.

Better classifying cancers is a game-changer for cancer research and treatment.

When it comes to combating cancer, the old adage, “Know thine enemy,” is incredibly

apt. Not only do the specific characteristics identified by TCGA reveal new vulnerabilities

that can be targeted by future medications, but they also may help simplify treatment

decisions today.

For example, if physicians know that an individual’s cancer is marked by a certain

characteristic, they can choose medications designed specifically for that subtype and

avoid other treatments that are better suited for another subtype.

Working together is the way forward.

TCGA’s work was a massive, decade-long undertaking that required the time and talent

of hundreds of scientists from around the world, who painstakingly analyzed more than

10,000 samples from 33 different cancer types. None of this would have been possible

without an extraordinary level of cooperation, teamwork and a singular dedication to

creating a resource that may revolutionize cancer research and treatment.

“Team science endeavors like TCGA are the future,” Laird said. “By sharing resources,

expertise and data, we were able to do more together than we ever could have apart.”

DR. PETER W. LAIRD

DR. HUI SHEN

24 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 25


MAKING A DIFFERENCE EARLY ON

RESEARCH

Van Andel Research Institute is home to a thriving community of graduate students working toward their

Ph.D.s and postdoctoral fellows gaining additional experience after earning their doctorates. These young

scientists are an integral part of the Institute’s research enterprise and make important contributions to the

discoveries that are changing how we view health and disease.

Postdoctoral fellows

In 2018, several of our graduate students and postdoctoral

fellows earned awards to support their research, which enables

them to conduct groundbreaking and impactful studies that

investigate the basis of disorders like cancer and Parkinson’s.

Van Andel Institute Graduate School students

Dr. Alison Lanctot Chomiak, Rothbart

Laboratory

National Cancer Institute Ruth L. Kirschstein

National Research Service Award

Dr. Chomiak studies the molecular changes

that give rise to colon cancer, a disease that is

becoming more prevalent in younger people.

To do so, she’s focusing on an epigenetic

process called DNA methylation, an ensemble

of small tags on DNA that tell our genes when

they should be expressed and to what extent.

Dr. Manpreet Kalkat, Laird Laboratory

Canadian Institutes for Health

Research Fellowship

Dr. Kalkat is investigating how epigenetics,

which regulate how and when the instructions

in our genes are interpreted and acted upon,

can contribute to colorectal cancers. Each

year, more than 145,000 people are diagnosed

with colon or rectal cancers in the U.S. alone,

making these diseases the third most common

cancers among both men and women.

Maggie Chassé, Grohar Laboratory

National Cancer Institute Ruth L. Kirschstein

Predoctoral Individual Service Award

Maggie Chassé is searching for the Achilles’

heel of rhabdoid tumor, an aggressive

pediatric cancer with no effective treatment

options, by investigating compounds that

starve cancer cells of the resources they need

to survive.

Dr. Madalynn Erb, Moore Laboratory

Parkinson’s Foundation Postdoctoral

Fellowship

Dr. Erb studies the genetic underpinnings

of Parkinson’s disease, in particular a gene

called LRRK2 that is a major player in cases of

the disease genetically passed down through

families. This award supports her research into

LRRK2 and its relationship with another gene,

ATP132A, which may protect brain cells against

damage caused by mutations in LRRK2.

Dr. Xiaotian Zhang, VARI Fellow, Pfeifer

Laboratory

Edward P. Evans Foundation —

EvansMDS Young Investigator Award

American Society of Hematology,

Basic Research Fellow

Dr. Zhang seeks to understand how changes

in epigenetic mechanisms can give rise to

myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a bone marrow

disorder than can rapidly progress to an aggressive

blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Jamie Grit, Steensma Laboratory

Children’s Tumor Foundation

Young Investigator Award

Jamie Grit studies Neurofibromatosis Type

1 (NF1), a rare genetic disorder that causes

benign tumors to grow throughout the body

and increases cancer risk. She is seeking new

treatments for malignant peripheral nerve

sheath tumors, a rare type of cancer that

causes malignant growths along the spine and

nerves.

26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 27


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE GRADUATE SCHOOL STUDENTS — GREAT SCIENCE, GLOBAL REACH

RESEARCH

Kajang, a bustling city on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, is a long way away from Grand Rapids, Michigan. But for Menusha Arumugam, a doctoral

student enrolled in Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS), both cities are home. Arumugam is part of a community of international students who come to the Institute from all

over the world to train as the scientific leaders of the future. They hail from diverse backgrounds and cultures, but they are bonded by a common desire to use their talents and skills in

the service of something they all feel strongly about — the idea that great science can change the world for the better.

Menusha Arumugam (Malaysia)

Arumugam’s love of science comes from a deep desire to

help people. As a young student growing up in Malaysia,

Arumugam had dreams of becoming a doctor and helping

cure people suffering from disease.

“When I was a student in high school, I shadowed a doctor

and, while I liked the idea of improving human health, I quickly

learned that I was really interested in figuring out how the

diseases come about and how we can improve treatments for

patients,” Arumugam said.

From that moment on, Arumugam has worked toward her

goal of being a scientist. That choice led her to leave her

hometown of Kajang to study, first at the University of Michigan–Flint, and now at VAIGS.

“When I received a scholarship from the Malaysian government to study abroad, I decided

to come to Michigan to further my education,” Arumugam said. “Grand Rapids is such a

great city, and the Institute’s location on the Medical Mile allows for a lot of collaboration

with other scientists, clinicians and organizations like Michigan State University and

Spectrum Health.”

Arumugam works alongside a team of scientists in the laboratory of physician-scientist

Dr. Matt Steensma, an expert in orthopedic oncology and rare diseases such as

Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). This direct connection between research and patient

care is something that Arumugam loves about her work in the Steensma lab, where she

studies breast cancer in NF1 patients.

“When you’re a scientist working in a lab, sometimes you can forget why you’re doing what

you’re doing,” Arumugam said. “In our lab, the work might directly impact patients, and I

think when you’re constantly reminded that your work impacts real people, you’ll never

lose the passion for what you’re doing.”

28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

Eric Cordeiro-Spinetti (Brazil)

Eric Cordeiro-Spinetti speaks about science

in a soulfully enthusiastic way, like a dancer

talking about music or an architect talking

about geometry.

“I want everyone to be a scientist in their own

way,” he said. “Being a scientist is not just a job,

it’s a lifestyle, and being curious and thinking

critically means you’re living your life to the

fullest.”

His passion for science began as a small boy

in Rio de Janeiro watching American television

shows and movies. The scientists he saw on the glowing screen were larger than life

characters, but they were important, and they were making sense of the world.

“I have a vivid memory of being 5 or 6 years old and watching scientists on television

shows and movies, and I loved how they were always curious and trying to figure things

out,” Cordeiro-Spinetti said.

Today, Cordeiro-Spinetti is a doctoral student in the laboratory of Dr. Scott Rothbart,

where he collaborates with a team of scientists to better understand the role of

epigenetics in human diseases. In addition to his work as a graduate student, he uses his

love of communication and his big personality to create educational videos he hopes will

inspire others to pursue science and examine their world.

“I’m always challenging myself and trying to reach people,” Cordeiro-Spinetti said. “I want

to tell people in Brazil and around the world, ‘Hey, I’m working at this really cool place in

Michigan where I am training to become a great scientist, and if I can do it, you can do it

too.’”

Wooyoung Choi (South Korea)

Wooyoung Choi is both a scientist and an

explorer. He has traveled to almost every

country in Asia and has recently started to

explore Canada and the United States. In 2016,

he took the most significant trip of his life when

he traveled to Grand Rapids after finishing

his master’s degree at Tsinghua University

in Beijing, China. Drawn to the Institute’s

reputation for great science and intrigued by

the opportunity to work with the Institute’s

state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscope (cryo-

EM), Choi decided to move halfway around the

world to continue his studies at VAIGS.

“I thought this was a great opportunity to be a

part of an institute with this incredibly advanced technology and answer really complex

biological questions,” Choi said. “I wanted to use this technology to better understand the

structures of proteins, which can be used to understand mechanisms in cells and help

develop new treatments.”

Choi’s mentor at the Institute, Dr. Wei Lü, is an expert in cryo-EM and structural biology.

Working and learning alongside a scientist with such a specialized focus is the opportunity

of a lifetime.

“Dr. Lü is very knowledgeable and experienced with using cryo-EM, and his enthusiasm

for his work is incredible,” Choi said. “Everyone here is passionate about teaching me, and

everyone I work with treats me like family. Being here is life-changing.”

The close-knit bonds Choi has with his mentor and classmates helped him navigate the

complexities of a new culture and new environment, and these relationships have helped

him succeed in this new adventure.

“People are really kind here and care about teaching me not just science but American

culture. They really want me to learn,” Choi said. “I am happy to be at a graduate program

that provides such great opportunities and lets me seek out and achieve my goals for the

future.”

Minge Du (China)

On her family’s farm in China, Minge Du tended

to the bountiful corn and wheat crops. As a

child working directly with the natural world,

Du developed a keen interest in animals and

plants, that eventually led her to pursue a

career in science.

“I loved nature and animals when I was young,

but I became really interested in science in

college, where I studied a lot of biology,” Du

said. “I have always been a very curious person

and, while most of my family members are farmers, I decided I wanted to be a scientist.”

Du began her graduate education in the U.S. at Stony Brook University in New York. There,

she worked alongside Dr. Huilin Li, whose research uses cryo-EM to determine the

structures of molecules. When Li accepted a position at the Institute, Du and her husband,

who is also a scientist in Li’s lab, followed him to Grand Rapids.

“I never imagined I would be in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but I am happy to be here

because it’s such a good graduate school program,” Du said. “The size of the Institute

allows students to work collaboratively and get to know each other, and that is very good

for me.”

Du’s work with Li focuses on uncovering the molecular structure of specific proteins using

tools such as cryo-EM. Her experience at the Institute is unlike any she’s ever had, and she

is excited to work with program peers who share her interest in technology and scientific

discovery.

“Every day, I am discussing newly published papers, working and collaborating with other

scientists, and living a life much different than I ever expected,” Du said. “I am glad I am

following my dreams.”

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 29


Van Andel Education Institute

is dedicated to creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical

thinking thrive.

30 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 31


HONORING AND EMPOWERING TEACHERS — VAN ANDEL EDUCATION INSTITUTE’S INAUGURAL SCIENCE ON THE GRAND CONFERENCE

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS SPEND THEIR SUMMER DAYS

AT VAN ANDEL EDUCATION INSTITUTE

EDUCATION

In 2018, more than 130 teachers, administrators and

education professionals visited Van Andel Education

Institute (VAEI) for the inaugural Science on the Grand

conference.

Terra Tarango, VAEI’s director and chief education officer,

and her team designed the conference to honor the work

of teachers and provide them with the opportunity to gain

practical, purposeful strategies to incorporate inquirybased

instruction into their teaching.

“During this event we literally and figuratively rolled out

the red carpet for teachers,” Tarango said. “We wanted

teachers to be inspired by world-class speakers, as well as

empowered with classroom-proven strategies and lessons

to create extraordinary classrooms. But more than that,

we wanted them to feel honored and appreciated for the

extraordinary work they do.”

Lori Corley, principal of Springfield Elementary in

Greenwood, South Carolina, traveled hundreds of miles

to attend the conference along with two science teachers

from her school. Corley was introduced to the Institute

while attending the National Science Teachers Association

Conference, where she met VAEI education specialists

and learned about the Institute’s science education and

professional development programs.

“After meeting representatives from the Institute, I

recognized that the beliefs that go into VAEI’s education

philosophy are very similar to the beliefs that I hold as a

principal,” she said.

While at the conference, Corley and members of her team

went on a tour of an Institute lab, met with scientists,

participated in breakout sessions, heard inspirational

TEACHERS DISCUSS INQUIRY-BASED LEARNING AT THE

INAUGURAL SCIENCE ON THE GRAND CONFERENCE.

“We wanted teachers to be

inspired by world-class speakers,

as well as empowered with

classroom-proven strategies and

lessons to create extraordinary

classrooms.”

— Terra Tarango

speakers and networked with teachers, where they

discovered new ways to view education and new insights

into their profession.

“One of the takeaways I received from the conference

is the importance of teaching students to think like

scientists,” Corley said. “We want to let students know

that if you think like a scientist in the classroom, there is

no reason why you can’t be one in the future. I think this

understanding is really important.”

Tarango is optimistic that the conference will serve

as a way for teachers and administrators to become

familiarized with both the Institute and its mission, which

focuses on inquiry-based instruction.

The two-day conference was divided into two sections

— day one focusing on classroom culture and day two

focusing on practical, inquiry-based lessons and STEAM

(science, technology, engineering, art and math) content.

Tarango views the conference structure as a reflection of

VAEI’s framework, which emphasizes both the classroom

learning environment and content-area knowledge.

“I think the conference was a perfect forum for reminding

teachers why they entered this noble profession and

inspiring them to continually grow and improve their

craft,” she said. “I have heard from many teachers who

were frustrated with teaching, tempted to leave education

altogether, and then they heard an inspiring speaker or

learned an innovative strategy at a conference, and just

like that — they are recommitted to their students and all

the promise of this remarkable profession.”

High school students from across West Michigan spent

their summer days exploring their world and making

new discoveries during Van Andel Education Institute’s

(VAEI) week-long summer camp.

Students used hands-on interactive investigations and

inquiry-based learning techniques to delve into a series

of complex projects including using electrophoresis to

identify DNA, testing the quality of river water, exploring

what it would be like to live on Mars, and building and

testing robotic devices. VAEI’s summer camp is one of

several student programs in which young scientists can

explore their world, collaborate with other students and

learn in an environment where curiosity, creativity and

critical thinking thrive.

Esther Vanderwey, Sophomore

“I like science very much, so I really enjoyed this camp.

Today, we were using DNA to figure out how to solve

crimes. We used samples and gel electrophoresis to match

DNA and learn about forensics. My interests are in zoology,

but I love all sciences and I had a lot of fun.”

Eli Lake, Freshman

“The instructors we had at the camp are really nice. What I

really loved is that we were doing things that scientists in a

big university lab do right here in a classroom, and that is

really cool. I really like science and one day I would like to

be a molecular biologist.”

Alex Kempston, Freshman

“Everyone at the camp is interested in science, and it was

a good opportunity for me to be around other people who

like science as much as I do. I’m really interested in science

as a career.”

Sophia Maisel & Lucie Kovarik, Freshmen

“The camp was good because it was very hands-on, and

compared to doing online courses, this was more fun. We

did a lot of trial and error in our projects, which is cool

because it’s all up to you and your group if you succeed

or fail. I liked working with other people and collaborating,

and it was fun seeing people succeed.”

VAEI’s summer camp is one of several

student programs in which young

scientists can explore their world,

collaborate with other students and

learn in an environment where curiosity,

creativity and critical thinking thrive.

32 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 33


Van Andel Institute’s donors and philanthropic partners are connected by

a shared sense of commitment to the Institute’s mission. Their creativity,

passion and dedication have helped the Institute become a thriving center

for innovative biomedical research and science education.

34 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 35


DONOR PROFILE: ALVIN AND HYLDA TUUK — A LEGACY OF GENEROSITY

Alvin and Hylda Tuuk believed in the American

dream. Second generation Dutch immigrants, they met

and married after Al served his country in World War

II. Together, they raised a family, started a successful

business and later became examples of the American

dream in the West Michigan community. People of modest

means, the couple’s drive for a better life was shaped

equally by the Great Depression and the experiences

they lived through during World War II. They worked hard

and instilled in their four children the value of education,

THE TUUK FAMILY

the power of American capitalism and the importance

of charitable giving. In 1985, Hylda lost Al to prostate

cancer before they had the chance to enjoy their golden

years. Committed to making a difference, she arranged

to donate a portion of her estate to fund research that

could give hope to people facing this difficult disease.

In February 2017, Hylda passed away at the age of 93.

She left a generous planned gift that will benefit prostate

cancer research pilot studies in the laboratories of Dr.

Xiaohong Li and Dr. Bart Williams.

“It is heartwarming to know that our

gift will go directly to fund important

research being conducted right here

in Grand Rapids.” — Mary Tuuk

“Growing up and living for much of their lives in West

Michigan, both my parents were impressed by the

business success and the generous spirit of the Van Andel

family. My siblings and I were proud to make a gift to

benefit the Institute’s cancer research on their behalf,”

said Hylda and Al’s daughter, Mary Tuuk, vice president

and chief compliance officer at Meijer.

“Van Andel Institute has been an incredibly positive force

both in the health science community and the community

as a whole. It has been a tremendous catalyst for growth

in the region while making an impact on a global scale. It is

heartwarming to know that our gift will go directly to fund

important research being conducted right here in Grand

Rapids.”

In recognition of Alvin and Hylda Tuuk’s legacy of

generosity, they were posthumously inducted as

members of Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) Society of Hope.

The Society of Hope recognizes individuals who have

notified us they are including VAI in their will or another

deferred giving plan. The Tuuks’ spirit of purposeful giving

will live on in the work of the Institute’s scientists and the

impact they have on improving the health of current and

future generations.

DONOR PROFILE: DUKE SUWYN — A SENSE OF HOPE

Duke Suwyn is one of Van Andel Institute’s most

committed donors, and his belief in philanthropy

and the Institute’s mission comes from a very

personal place — a life-long love.

When Duke Suwyn first met his wife, Sue, at a church

function, his world opened up and he was never the same.

Suwyn grew up on a family farm in the lush Michigan

countryside. Sue was from Chicago — the city of big

shoulders — and was filled with ambition, drive and

determination.

“The first time I saw her, I knew she was unlike anyone

I’d ever met,” Suwyn said. “She was extremely talented,

gregarious and full of life. And from that moment on, she

was my mentor, coach and my teammate.”

Sue and Duke got married, started a family, built successful

careers and discovered their love for giving back to their

community. Together, they were active in their children’s

school, Ada Christian, and, guided by a deep faith, they

served on the school’s various foundations and boards.

Through their philanthropic work, they met community

leaders David and Carol Van Andel, who also volunteered

and gave of their time and talent to benefit the school.

“They were some of the most hardworking, focused,

visionary people I’d ever met. They didn’t just come with

ideas — they really rolled up their sleeves and helped us

improve the school for the better,” Suwyn said.

Impressed by the Van Andels’ generosity, the Suwyns

decided to get involved with Van Andel Institute and soon

became some of the Institute’s most ardent advocates and

donors. Duke pursued a career in commercial real estate

and became an executive with Colliers International. In his

leadership position, he encouraged the company to focus

a portion of its charitable giving on the Institute in support

of research. The gift, totaling more than $100,000, provided

Institute scientists with the funds to facilitate research into

rare childhood diseases.

In 2016, Suwyn’s connection to the Institute became

extraordinarily personal when Sue was diagnosed with

glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of brain

cancer. Suddenly, and without warning, the woman who

gave his life meaning was facing an incredible battle.

“When Sue was diagnosed, we knew we needed help, and

we felt fortunate to live in a community where we have

these great hospitals and research centers right here in

our city,” Suwyn said. “The facilities in Grand Rapids on the

Medical Mile are just amazing, and when you go into these

places, you don’t go in there thinking negatively, you go in

with such a sense of hope.”

During this difficult time, both Sue and Duke were

comforted with the idea that the Institute’s scientists

were working on new treatments that might one day help

others affected by cancer. Sue passed away in August

2017, and one of her last wishes was that memorial gifts

be given to the two organizations that were held closest to

her heart.

“There were two places Sue wanted people to think about

when they thought of her — Ada Christian and Van Andel

Institute,” Suwyn said. “When you see the passion that the

Institute’s scientists have for their work, and you know

that these scientists are going to work every day for the

benefit of other people, you really can’t help but fall in love

with this place.”

DUKE SUWYN

PHILANTHROPY

36 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 37


WINTERFEST • THE ART OF FASHION & RESEARCH

THE CAROL VAN ANDEL ANGEL OF EXCELLENCE DINNER & AWARD PRESENTATION

• BOARD OF GOVERNORS ANNUAL DINNER

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) GEORGE

SHARPE JR. & MISSY SHARPE & SALLY MURDOCK;

DAVID VAN ANDEL; MODEL WALKING THE ART

OF FASHION & RESEARCH CATWALK; KEN DEWEY,

CAROL VAN ANDEL & RENEE JANOVSKY; DAVID

BRONKEMA; MARK & JENN BUGGE; LAURA

FABRIZIO & EILEEN BRADER; DALE & DIANE

EVERETT, RON & MARY RUTKOWSKI.

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) THERESE ROWERDINK, SUSAN STAFFORD & CAROL

VAN ANDEL; CAROL VAN ANDEL & MEMBERS OF WEST OTTAWA PURPLE POWER; VICKY LUDEMA; DR.

PETER A. JONES & WIFE, VERONICA; ELIZABETH ALEXANDER, CAROL VAN ANDEL & RYAN GRAHAM;

JEFFERY ROBERTS & CAROL VAN ANDEL; DAVID VAN ANDEL & TIM LONG.

38 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 39


AROUND THE WORLD • VAI GOLF OUTING

COUTURE FOR A CURE

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) RACHEL MRAZ & CHAD BASSETT;

VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS; CAROL

VAN ANDEL; DAVID VAN ANDEL & JASON HANSON; SARAH TUPPER, ABBIE

BENTON, MOLLY CHELOVICH & KATHY TUPPER; DOYLE A. HAYES, BRUCE

COURTADE & TIM WILLIAMS; LYNN TENHARMSEL, MOLLY HUNTING; TINA

EMERMINE & KASIE SMITH; HELMET SIGNED BY JASON HANSON.

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) SCOTT & REBECCA

WIERDA, CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL; MISSY SHARPE,

ALLISON BURR, DAVID BRACIAK & CHRISTINE HUGUES;

JORDAN CARSON FROM WOOD TV8 & WOTV 4 WOMEN;

GUESTS MINGLE AT THE AMWAY ARTISTRY BEAUTY BAR.

40 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 41


HOPE ON THE HILL

A CONVERSATION ABOUT PEDIATRIC CANCER RESEARCH & TREATMENT

HOSTED BY CAROL VAN ANDEL

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) EVENT GUESTS MINGLING;

DAVID VAN ANDEL, VICKY LUDEMA & TIM LONG; LIGHT BALANCE

PERFORMING; TERESA HENDRICKS-PITSCH, JIM NICHOLS & JAMIE MILLS;

DR. STEVEN TRIEZENBERG & WIFE, LAURA; DANA STENSTROM,

GINNY BAYSHORE & PATTI BOYD.

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) CAROL

VAN ANDEL ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE;

DR. JAMES FAHNER GIVING HIS KEYNOTE

PRESENTATION; DR. JENNA GEDMINAS; CAROL

VAN ANDEL WITH EVENT GUESTS; DR. MATT

STEENSMA ANSWERS A QUESTION DURING

THE EVENT Q&A.

42 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 43


PURPLE COMMUNITY FOOTBALL GAMES — IGNITING SPIRIT AND TAKING ON CANCER

PHILANTHROPY

On any given weekend during the fall, people across

the country gather under the Friday night lights,

braving the cold weather to cheer on their hometown

high school football teams.

Football games help bring people together, uniting

students, teams and the community around a common

cause. Teams across Michigan hosted Purple Community

games to benefit cancer research at Van Andel Institute

(VAI). The games, filled with emotion and camaraderie,

honored people affected by cancer and gave everyone in

attendance a reason to be hopeful.

Scott Merchant, head coach at Chippewa Valley High

School in Clinton Township, Michigan, has coached

hundreds of young athletes during the past nine years, but

there’s one player he will never forget.

SOUTH CHRISTIAN SAILORS

CHIPPEWA VALLEY BIG REDS

One day, a junior, just starting out on the varsity team,

didn’t show up for practice because he was experiencing

back pain and fatigue. The student received a diagnosis

of testicular cancer and he learned that it had spread

throughout his body. He wasn’t able to play in a single

game, but even after surgery and aggressive treatments,

he remained there for his team and cheered them on

throughout the season from the sidelines. Sadly, before

he could graduate, his life was tragically cut short, and he

passed away from the disease.

“So many people are affected by cancer, but when it gets

one of your players, and it happens right in front of your

face, it really hits home and inspires you to take action,”

Merchant said.

Mary Woltjer, a mother of three and one of the lead

organizers of the South Christian High Purple Out game,

rallies her school in support of VAI’s mission, and believes

her school’s generosity stems from faith, community and

a culture of compassion. In 2017, the school hosted a

game that raised more than $37,000 to benefit cancer

research at VAI. In total, Woltjer has helped organize five

years of Purple events, and to date the school has raised

more than $70,000. While this amount is impressive, the

events have become more than a source for fundraising

— they have become a way to honor those who have been

impacted by this indiscriminate disease.

TRAVERSE CITY WEST TITANS

“One of the boys we honored during the game was a

student and football player who was diagnosed with

Hodgkin’s lymphoma — he’s now in remission, but we still

wanted him to know how much support he has in our

community,” Woltjer said.

The game also honored Bob Blacquiere, who had served

as South Christian’s head football coach for nearly 40 years

and was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016.

“Most people know someone who has been affected by cancer, and supporting

research at VAI is something our community has really embraced...”

A member of the Michigan Coaches Hall of Fame,

Blacquiere helped generations of South Christian Sailors

achieve their dreams. During the game, members of

the football team, students, friends and family joined

Blacquiere on the field to say “thank you” for his spirit and

his service.

A deep and significant sense of community support also

connects the students, parents and teachers of Traverse

City West High School. Terra Walters, mother and Pink

— Terra Walters

Game event coordinator, is proud of her school’s spirit and

sense of togetherness and activism, which have helped

raise more than $19,000 to benefit cancer research.

“Giving back to our community and helping others is part

of Traverse City West Football’s philosophy,” Walters said.

“Most people know someone who has been affected by

cancer, and supporting research at VAI is something our

community has really embraced, and everyone looks

forward to our Purple Community Pink Game.”

TRAVERSE CITY WEST TITANS

44 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 45


PURPLE COMMUNITY 5K — STRONG COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS MEAN MORE THAN A CHECK

RUNNING LIKE THE WIND —

PURPLE COMMUNITY MARATHON RUNNERS MAKE BIG STRIDES

PHILANTHROPY

On a cool, spring Saturday morning, hundreds of

people rallied together on the grounds of the Mary

Free Bed YMCA in Grand Rapids for the annual

Consumers Credit Union Purple Community 5K (PC5K).

Enthusiastic runners, walkers and volunteers participated

in a day of activism and fundraising in support of Van Andel

Institute’s (VAI) research into cancer, Parkinson’s and other

diseases. The event has grown from a small gathering in

2015 into one of West Michigan’s premier 5K races, thanks

to an outpouring of community support and sponsors

like Consumers Credit Union and the Mary Free Bed

YMCA. Both organizations have built bridges between the

Institute’s mission and the people they serve and have

amplified Purple Community’s message of hope to spirited

new audiences.

Lynne Jarman-Johnson, chief marketing officer for

Consumers Credit Union, views the organization’s title

sponsorship of the PC5K as an extension of the company’s

corporate values and community-focused business model.

Jarman-Johnson’s contagious enthusiasm for giving back,

and the efforts of Consumers Credit Union, expanded the

PC5K’s reach and developed it into a day of exceptional

engagement and fundraising.

“Since the beginning, helping our community has been

part of our organization’s mission,” Jarman-Johnson said.

“For us, it’s very personal — we are proud to be the title

sponsor for this event and see it as a way to serve our

Consumers family and our region as a whole. Giving back is

part of our culture.”

For Paul Petr, district executive director for the Mary Free

Bed YMCA, working for the YMCA is not just a job, it’s a

calling. The Y’s focus on the critical needs of the community

and its roots in faith and human wellness are things Petr

feels deeply passionate about. These values, integral to the

Y’s mission, are some of the many reasons Petr believes

the partnership with Purple Community is such a good fit.

“Whether we are leading an initiative, convening an event

or partnering with another organization, making our

community healthier is one of our main goals,” Petr said.

“I think our partnership with Purple Community is strong,

and I think we can do more when we are working together.”

By hosting the PC5K, the Mary Free Bed YMCA has given

Purple Community members access to a beautiful course

and top-tier facilities for the event and provided the Y’s

members who have been impacted by cancer with a

powerful way to connect and support one another.

“Speaking through the lens of a husband who recently lost

his wife to cancer, a framework of support is so critical, not

only to those who are going through cancer treatment, but

for those family members and friends who are there caring

for them. This event is a way for us to come together as

a community and say, ‘you’re not alone,’” Petr said. “I’ve

(TOP TO BOTTOM) CONSUMERS CREDIT UNION TEAM.

PC5K RUNNER CROSSING THE FINISH LINE.

always believed that people want to be involved with

something that’s bigger than themselves, and I think the

PC5K is an event that gives people that opportunity. It’s an

event we are really proud to support.”

Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) Purple Community Team

Hope members had a busy year, competing in both the

Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the TCS New York

Marathon.

The dedicated runners trained for months to get ready for

the two races that collectively raised more than $90,000

to support VAI’s cancer and Parkinson’s disease research.

Team Hope’s ranks grew in 2018 to include more than 44

participants, including runner Brenda Gardner who ran the

Chicago Marathon in honor of her husband, Todd, who was

diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2004 at the age of 41.

“To watch Todd’s internal and external struggles with

Parkinson’s, I thought what better way to support him

than by running in the 2018 Chicago Marathon, alongside

my sister, Ann Schneider, and great friend, Tammy

Anderson, in support of Making the Turn Against

Parkinson’s and Van Andel Institute,” Gardner said.

Team Hope runners come from all across West Michigan,

but run together connected by their desire to give back

(LEFT TO RIGHT)

PC5K RUNNERS;

TEAM HOPE

RUNNERS; BRENDA

& TODD GARDNER.

and to make a difference for those affected by cancer

and Parkinson’s. Runner Kenny Gildersleeve completed

the 26.2 miles of the Chicago Marathon, motivated by a

deep desire to support biomedical research and a strong

connection to the Institute’s mission of health and hope.

“I’ve seen cancer impact several friends and loved ones in

my life, including my own mother, who was diagnosed with

breast cancer my senior year in high school,” Gildersleeve

said. “Today, I’m happy to say that she is a cancer survivor

and has been cancer free for over ten years. I know

that cancer research is the key to making the disease

more preventable, more treatable and to creating more

survivors.”

Team Hope runners move together mile after mile,

bonded by their shared desire to honor those affected

by cancer and Parkinson’s, and to support research that

might change the future of human health.

46 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 47


PURPLE COMMUNITY BREAKS A RECORD — RAISING MORE THAN $700,000 FOR CANCER AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE RESEARCH

GENERATIONS OF DUNCAN LAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS

RAISE $100,000 TO SUPPORT CANCER RESEARCH

PHILANTHROPY

In 2018, Purple Community broke their yearly record

for fundraising. Grassroots events, volunteers, schools

and community partners helped raise more than

$700,000 that directly benefits Van Andel Institute’s

(VAI) biomedical research and education initiatives.

Founded in 2009, Purple Community has grown into a

widespread fundraising force and has raised more than

$3.4 million for Van Andel Institute.

“In 2018, we were able to work with more than 80

volunteers and help grassroots fundraisers host 121

events,” said Ashley Owen, Purple Community senior event

coordinator. “This year was also really special because

we had the opportunity to team up with 44 marathoners

who participated in both the Chicago and New York races,

raising over $88,000.”

Purple Community began with West Michigan-based events

— working primarily with local grade schools and high

schools, but has steadily increased its reach — spreading

hope across the state of Michigan and beyond.

“We are really grateful to work with such amazing and

dedicated community and media partners, schools and

business leaders,” Owen said. “Everyone knows someone

who has been affected by cancer or Parkinson’s disease,

and Purple Community exists to give people touched

by these diseases the chance to come together and do

something extraordinary, and make a real contribution to

the Institute’s research right here in Grand Rapids.”

Events like the Consumers Credit Union Purple Community

5K, the Bee Brave 5K, and collaborations with schools,

entertainers, musicians and local sports teams have

brought VAI’s mission to a wide variety of new audiences.

“Purple Community is exactly that — a community of

people connecting and reaching out to businesses,

schools, family, friends and coworkers to create hope.

Hope for their loved ones facing devastating diseases

we research right here at VAI — and our job at Purple

Community is to help these individuals who have a

passion for our mission by giving them the resources to

host successful fundraising events,” Owen said. “Whenever

I meet an event organizer, volunteer or participant, and

they share their stories with me, those stories drive

me and the entire team here at VAI to make Purple

Community the force it is today — I’m just so humbled

and honored to be a part of it all.”

To learn more about Purple Community and how you can get

involved, visit purplecommunity.org.

ASHLEY OWEN WITH PURPLE COMMUNITY EVENT VOLUNTEERS.

Duncan Lake Middle School in Caledonia, Michigan, sits

tucked away between sprawling farmland and rolling

country roads. From the outside, its brown brick building

looks like an average middle school anywhere in the United

States but inside, its students have achieved something

extraordinary.

For more than a decade, the school’s student council has

planned and hosted an event that has inspired their quiet,

rural community and raised more than $100,000 to benefit

cancer research at Van Andel Institute (VAI). By working

together and passing the torch to successive generations

of students, Duncan Lake has redefined what young

people can do when their hearts and minds are united by a

common cause.

Hannah Jablonski, a 23-year-old recent college graduate,

remembers being a creative, expressive eighth-grader at

Duncan Lake. As a member of the school’s student council,

she worked with her classmates to plan and organize the

very first Cancer Walk in 2008.

“It all started because we wanted to do something to give

back and support good causes and, because we knew a

lot of people were affected by cancer, we decided to do

the first Cancer Walk,” Jablonski said. “It was such a good

experience. When you’re a student and you have the

freedom to plan an event like this, and you know that you

can make a difference in the world, it’s really impactful.”

DUNCAN LAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL WAS AWARDED A CAROL

VAN ANDEL ANGEL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD IN 2018 FOR THEIR

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & IMPRESSIVE FUNDRAISING EFFORTS.

“This event really shows kids that they

can give back to their community and that

creating change is doable.”

— Elizabeth Alexander

“Every year, you can see the sixth-graders falling in love

with the event and getting excited about how they can

support cancer research and, the cool thing is, when those

enthusiastic kids get to eighth-grade, they are the leaders

taking charge,” Alexander said.

Since the very first Cancer Walk was organized by Jablonski

and her classmates, the event has become a source

of fun, camaraderie and community that has unified

students, teachers and their families and friends behind an

important mission.

“This event really shows kids that they can give back to

their community and that creating change is doable,”

Alexander said. “Personally, I lost two family members to

cancer in the last few years, and this event is a source

of hope — hope that the Institute’s researchers might

one day find a treatment or cure that could help people

survive.”

Jablonski is proud that the Cancer Walk gives so many

people hope for the future, and she continues to spread

the message all these years later. While in college,

Alexander surprised Jablonski by inviting her to speak

at a pep rally to say a few words about the event she

helped create. Jablonski was shocked that Alexander had

remembered her after all these years and that the small

event she and her classmates organized had raised more

than six figures.

“In 2018, we were able to work with more than 80 volunteers and help grassroots fundraisers host 121 events.”

— Ashley Owen

Elizabeth Alexander, enrichment coordinator at Duncan

Lake, has worked for the past decade with students like

Jablonski to help them plan their Cancer Walk. Since the

very first event, Alexander has been impressed with the

students’ ability to take charge of their event and take pride

in their work.

DUNCAN LAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS CELEBRATE AT THEIR

ANNUAL CANCER WALK.

“It’s really an inspiration to know that a few kids in middle

school can organize an event, raise an impressive amount

of money and make a difference in the lives of people

living with cancer,” Jablonski said. “I have always believed

that you get as much as you give into the world, and these

kids are giving a lot.”

48 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 49


NEVER STOP GIVING BACK — SALLY SCHAAFSMA, PURPLE COMMUNITY CABINET VOLUNTEER CHAIR

PHILANTHROPY

As the Purple Community Cabinet volunteer chair,

Schaafsma also has the opportunity to share her

professional work experience and mentor the team’s

junior volunteers and interns.

Memorials

Society of Hope

For Sally Schaafsma, volunteering isn’t a hobby or

an occasional activity — it’s a full-time job. When

Sally retired from a successful career as a teacher and

businesswoman, she knew she wanted to spend her days

helping others, giving back to her community and making

the world a better place. Today, Schaafsma volunteers

with a number of Grand Rapids-based charities and

organizations, including Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) Purple

Community.

SALLY SCHAAFSMA

“I call myself a community volunteer, and I have always

wanted to use my skills and abilities to help — wherever I

could,” Schaafsma said.

Working alongside Purple Community associates, interns

and other volunteers, Schaafsma uses her organizational

skills and leadership abilities to help the team prepare

for the many grassroots fundraising events they organize

throughout the year.

“One of my favorite aspects of volunteering with Purple

Community is working with people from all different age

groups, and in particular with the younger people just

starting their careers — I feel like I can really help them

and share the knowledge that comes from my years of

experience,” Schaafsma said. “It really gives me a great

feeling to work with so many wonderful young people.”

The Institute’s mission and work in biomedical research

and science education drew Schaafsma to volunteer with

Purple Community.

“Like so many people, my family has been directly

affected by the diseases VAI studies,” Schaafsma said.

“It’s important to support scientists and organizations

who are doing research that will help find new therapies

and, ultimately, cures for these diseases. I love having the

opportunity to share information about the Institute’s

work with people at Purple Community events, and it’s

even better when we get new people involved in our

mission.”

Schaafsma believes volunteering is one of the most

meaningful things a person can do with their time, and

she hopes others will join her in helping build the Purple

Community volunteer program.

“There are so many ways to volunteer,” Schaafsma said.

“Everyone has skills they can give to an organization,

whether it’s behind the scenes or working with the public.

Every one of us can help our communities and the causes

we believe in.”

2018 was a year of great loss for Van Andel

Institute. We said farewell to longtime friends

and supporters, Don Maine, Gordon Van Harn

and John Canepa. They will remain forever in our

hearts.

Donald W. Maine

A member of the Van Andel Education Institute Board

of Trustees and Chair of the Finance and Compensation

Committees for more than 11 years, Don was a devoted

friend and enthusiastic champion of the Institute from our

beginning.

Don was a fixture on the educational scene in West

Michigan. He was fascinated with entrepreneurial thinking,

and his vision guided Davenport University from a small

college into a fully accredited university. As the former

president and chancellor, he was beloved at Davenport

and throughout our community. A mentor to many, Don

made people feel special in everything he did. He gave

freely of his time and expertise, serving on multiple boards

and receiving numerous accolades along the way.

Gordon Van Harn

An early leader of the Institute, Gordon Van Harn served

with us for 18 years.

Following a stellar academic career that included serving as

Calvin College’s provost and academic dean for the natural

sciences, Gordon joined the VAEI Board of Trustees in 2000

and served with distinction as Director of VAEI from 2001

to 2009. It was Gordon’s vision to create a Graduate

School and he was instrumental, along with Dr. Steven J.

Triezenberg, in securing the VAIGS charter from the

state of Michigan to confer degrees. He was a passionate

and creative leader who also brought great focus to the

Institute’s efforts to impact K–12 science education.

John Canepa

A longtime friend and a dedicated supporter of the

Institute, John founded the VAI Board of Governors and

participated in governance for our Institute as a member of

the Finance and Compensation Committees.

John was a man of vision, talent and action. A gifted

financial expert originally from Boston, he saw incredible

possibility for Grand Rapids. He brought people and ideas

together to infuse new life into our region. Through Grand

Action, John was instrumental in revitalizing Grand Rapids,

beginning with his support for the building of Van Andel

Arena in 1996. Our community has been transformed by

John’s belief in us.

The Society of Hope recognizes individuals

and couples who have notified us that they

will include Van Andel Institute in their will

or other deferred giving plan. Through our

acknowledgment of and gratitude to these

exceptional people, we hope that their

generosity will inspire others.

Vivian G. Anderson

Stanley & Blanche Ash

Kevin & Michelle Bassett

Philip & Shirley Battershall

John & Nancy Batts

Fred & Julie Bogaert

Bill & Marilyn Crawford

Barbara Erhards

J. Scott Grill

Joan Hammersmith

Arthur Joseph Jabury

Ms. Maryanna Johnson

Reneé Kuipers

Mr. & Mrs. Timothy Long

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols

LG & Helen Myers

Jone E. Phillips

Ronald Rutkowski

Alan R. Ryan

George Sietsema

Eva Sonneville

Fred L. Tape

Hylda & Alvin Tuuk

John E. VanFossen

50 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 51


SIGNATURE SPECIAL EVENT SPONSORS

We are grateful to have extraordinarily dedicated signature event sponsors.

Thank you for partnering with us and supporting our mission throughout the year.

INSTITUTE LEADERSHIP TEAM

LEADERSHIP

Al & Robin Koop Foundation

Alliance Beverage

Amway

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Aon

Aquinas College

Artistry

Autocam Medical

B.D.’s BBQ

Belwith Products

Bengtson Center for Aesthetics

& Plastic Surgery

Betz Industries

BHS Insurance

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi

David & Jill Bielema

Blue Water Custom Homes

Bluewater Technologies

Chuck & Christine Boelkins

Buist Electric

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan

Cancer & Hematology Centers

of Western Michigan, P.C.

Carnelian Energy Capital

Cascade Rental

Center for Physical

Rehabilitation

Chad Bassett

Cheeky Strut

The Chop House

CityFlatsHotel

CitySen

Coldwell Banker

Colliers International

Comfort Research

Consumers Credit Union

Cork Wine & Grille/Vintage

Prime & Seafood

Cornerstone University

Blake Crabb

Crowe LLP

Mimi Cummings

Cumulus Media

Tom & Tracy Curran

The Currie Foundation

Custer, Inc.

CWD Real Estate Investment

Czech Asset Management

Davenport University

David & Carol Van Andel

Family Foundation

Jerry & Karen DeBlaay

Rachel Decker

Deloitte

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh

Dick & Betsy DeVos Family

Foundation

Discovery Financial, LLC

Divani

Eastbrook Homes

Edward Jones

Eenhoorn, LLC

Eileen DeVries Family

Foundation

Ellis Parking Company

Emmanuel Hospice

Erhardt Construction

Eurest

Everett’s Landscape

Management Inc.

Fifth Third Bank

First National Bank of Michigan

Foremost Insurance Group

Fred L. Hansen Corporation

Gallagher

Grand Rapids Christian Schools

Grand Rapids Griffins

Grand Rapids Symphony

Grand Valley State University

Gravity Taphouse Grille

Martin & Peggy Greydanus

Dr. Jana Hall

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate

Harvey Automotive

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger

HealthBridge

Ken Hoffman & Lisa Rose

Hope College

Howard Miller

Huizenga Group

Bill & Starr Humphries

Ben & Molly Hunting

Ice Sculptures, LTD

iHeartMedia Inc.

Integrated Architecture

Iron

Jandernoa Foundation

Jeffery Roberts Design

John Hancock Financial Services

Dr. Peter A. & Veronica Jones

K3NOW Neuroscience

Optimized Wellness

Kindel Grand Rapids

King Street Capital Management

Craig & Debra Kinney

Kitchen 67

Blake & Mary Krueger

Lake Michigan Credit Union

Lanning & Stafford Families

Ray & Jeannine Lanning

Leigh’s

Leo’s

Lighthouse Charitable Gift Fund

Lighthouse Group

Gary & Vicky Ludema

Macatawa Bank

Making the Turn Against

Parkinson’s

McAlvey Merchant & Associates

McDonnell Investment

Management

McShane & Bowie, P.L.C.

Media 3 Design

MedNow

Meijer Foundation

Deborah Meijer

Mercy Health

Metro Health — University of

Michigan Health

MGD Technologies, Inc.

Michigan State University

College of Human Medicine

MLive Media Group/The

Grand Rapids Press

Modern Day Events & Floral

Neiman Marcus

Norris, Perné & French LLP

NorthStar Commercial

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Oppenheimer & Company Inc.

— Michael J. Murdock, Director

of Investments

Orthopaedic Associates

of Michigan

Osteria Rossa

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.

John & Kristine Palmer

Lee & Alexandra Perez

Perper Design

Peter C. & Emajean Cook

Foundation

Pioneer Construction

Pitsch Companies

Plante Moran

Plastic Surgery Associates &

Grand Pearl Spa

Preusser Jewelers

Priority Health

Reds at Thousand Oaks

Regal Financial Group

Renew Family Dental

Res-Com Electric

Reserve Wine & Food

Tom & Brenda Rinks

Robert DeNooyer Chevrolet

Rocket Science

Rockford Construction

RoMan Manufacturing Inc.

Rowerdink Inc.

John & Therese Rowerdink

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Rycenga Building Center

SanChez Bistro

The Sandi Gentry Team — Re/Max

Lakeshore

Scott & Jan Spoelhof Foundation

Secrest Wardle

Tony & Dawn Semple

Dan Shapiro & Joe Mangini

The Sharpe Collection

six.one.six

Slows Bar BQ

Sobie Meats, LLC

Dan & Carol Springer

Rob & Susan Stafford

Standard Lumber

Steelcase

Stephen Klotz Family Foundation

The Steve & Amy Van Andel

Foundation

Tom & Mary Stuit

Suburban Landscapes

Sweetie-licious

Taconic Charitable Foundation

Thomas S. Fox Family

Todd Wenzel Automotive

Townsquare Media

The Tupper Group of

Merrill Lynch

Uccello’s Ristorante

US Bank

US Signal

Mike & Michelle Van Dyke

Van Dellen Steel, Inc.

Van Eerden Foodservice

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet

Brian & Lori Vander Baan

Marc & Ashley Veenstra

The Veldheer, Long, Mackay

& Bernecker Group of Merrill

Lynch

Veolia North America

Virginia Tile

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP

Wells Fargo

West Michigan Woman

Wheelhouse

Dr. Bart & Wendy Williams

Williams Kitchen & Bath

Greg & Meg Willit

Wolverine Worldwide

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine

Zip Xpress Inc.

Jim & Jane Zwiers

“Your belief in our work and your

dedication, commitment and

generosity have served as the

Institute’s bedrock since it was

founded in 1996. We are eternally

grateful.”

— David Van Andel

David Van Andel

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO

David Van Andel is Chairman and CEO of Van Andel

Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also an

entrepreneur involved in several other business interests

in the natural and life science products industries.

The son of Jay Van Andel, founder of Van Andel Institute

and co-founder of Amway Corporation, David is currently

a member of Amway’s Board of Directors and serves on

its Executive, Governance and Audit committees. Before

leading Van Andel Institute, he had held various positions

at Amway since 1977, including chief operating officer

of Amway’s Pyxis Innovations Business Unit, and was

senior vice president — Americas and Europe, overseeing

Amway business activities in North America and 22

European and 11 Latin American affiliates.

Jerry Callahan, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Vice President, Innovation & Collaboration Officer

Jana Hall, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Chief Operations Officer

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)

Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Research Institute

Timothy Myers, M.B.A, C.P.A.

Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Terra Tarango

Director & Chief Education Officer, Van Andel Education Institute

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D.

President & Dean, Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Linda Zarzecki, M.B.A

Vice President of Human Resources

52 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 53


BOARD & COUNCIL MEMBERS

LEADERSHIP

Van Andel Institute Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

Joan Budden

President & CEO, Priority Health

John Kennedy

President & Chief Executive Officer, Autocam Medical

Mark Meijer

President, Life E.M.S. Ambulance

(LEFT TO RIGHT) MARK MEIJER, JOHN KENNEDY &

DAVID VAN ANDEL (NOT PICTURED) JOAN BUDDEN.

Van Andel Research Institute Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

Tom R. DeMeester, M.D.

Professor & Chairman Emeritus, Department

of Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of

Southern California

James B. Fahner, M.D.

Chief, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology; Senior

Administrative Physician for Philanthropy & Community

Relations, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology;

Director, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer

Center; Director, Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory,

University of Chicago

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Founding Research Director,

Van Andel Research Institute

Max S. Wicha, M.D.

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Van Andel Education Institute Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

James E. Bultman, Ed.D.

Former President, Hope College

Susan Keipper Meell

Chief Executive Officer, MMS Education

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.

President Emeritus, Aquinas College; Past President &

CEO of Kalamazoo Foundation & Grand Rapids Community

College

Teresa Weatherall Neal

Superintendent of Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Van Andel Research Institute External

Scientific Advisory Board

Tony Hunter, Ph.D. (ESAB Chair)

Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory; American

Cancer Society Professor; Renato Dulbecco Chair; Deputy

Director, Salk Institute Cancer Center

Marie-Francoise Chesselet, M.D., Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Neurology & Neurobiology,

Emerita, UCLA

Van Andel Research Institute External Scientific Advisory Board (continued)

Sharon Y.R. Dent, Ph.D.

Professor & Chair, Department of Epigenetics & Molecular

Carcinogenesis; Director, Science Part; Director, Center for

Cancer Epigenetics, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D.

Chancellor, Health Affairs; Dean, School of Medicine,

University of California Irvine School of Medicine;

CEO, UC Irvine Health System

Theresa Ann Guise, M.D.

Jerry W. & Peg S. Throgmartin Professor of Oncology,

Professor of Medicine; Professor of Pharmacology,

Department of Medicine, Indiana University School

of Medicine

Arthur D. Riggs, Ph.D.

Director, Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute at City

of Hope; Director Emeritus, Beckman Research Institute

of City of Hope

Max S. Wicha, M.D.

Madeline & Sidney Forbes Professor of Oncology; Founding

Director Emeritus; Director, Forbes Institute for Cancer

Discovery, University of Michigan Comprehensive

Cancer Center

Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Board of Directors

James Fahner, M.D.

Chief, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology; Senior

Administrative Physician for Philanthropy & Community

Relations, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

Michael J. Imperiale, Ph.D.

Vice President of Research — Policy & Compliance;

Professor & Associate Chair, Department of Microbiology &

Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)

Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Research Institute

Pamela Kidd, M.D.

Former Medical Director, Hematology & Flow Cytometry

Laboratories of Spectrum Health & Helen DeVos Children’s

Hospital

Karen Klomparens, Ph.D.

Former Dean of the Graduate School & Senior Advisor to

the Provost, Michigan State University

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.

President Emeritus, Aquinas College; Past President &

CEO of Kalamazoo Foundation & Grand Rapids Community

College

Danny R. Welch, Ph.D.

Founding Chair, Department of Cancer Biology, University

of Kansas Cancer Center

54 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 55


BOARD & COUNCIL MEMBERS (continued)

LEADERSHIP

Van Andel Institute Board of Governors

CO-CHAIRS: TIM LONG & VICKY LUDEMA

JBoard Ambassadors

CO-CHAIRS: RACHEL MRAZ & CHAD BASSETT

Kurt Arvidson

Tony & Kathleen Asselta

Jeffrey Battershall

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi

David & Jill Bielema

Chuck & Christine Boelkins

Chuck & Sara Booth

Patrick & Kristine Brady

Joan Budden

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan

Tom & Tracy Curran

Dave & Karen Custer

Stephen J. Czech

Thomas DeJonge

Robert DeVilbiss

Dick & Betsy DeVos

Douglas & Maria DeVos

Richard DeVos

Mark Eastburg

Michael & Lynette Ellis

Mathew & Jennifer Fahrenkrug

Thomas & Mickie Fox

Dan & Lou Ann Gaydou

Gary Granger

Martin & Margaret Greydanus

Jefra Groendyk

Dr. Thomas J. Haas

Dr. Jana Hall

Tom Hammer

Paul & Rosemary Heule

Dirk & June Hoffius

Earle & Kyle Irwin

Mike & Sue Jandernoa

Lynne Jarman-Johnson

Dr. Peter A. & Veronica Jones

John & Nancy Kennedy

Craig & Debra Kinney

Reneé Kuipers

Raymond & Jeannine Lanning

Kenneth Larm

Wayne & Terry Lobdell

Ray B. Loeschner

Timothy & Kimberly Long

Gary & Vicky Ludema

David Madiol

Michael R. McGraw

Hank & Liesel Meijer

Mark & Mary Beth Meijer

Rusty & Jennifer Merchant

Jack H. Miller

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols

Mike & Rachel Mraz

Dr. Juan & Mary Olivarez

Garry & Pat Ringnalda

Jeffery Roberts

John & Therese Rowerdink

H. Gideon Sanders

Tim & Barbie Schowalter

Peter & Joan Secchia

Tony & Dawn Semple

George & Missy Sharpe

Kasie Smith

John & Judy Spoelhof

Robert & Susan Stafford

Thomas & Mary Stuit

Duke Suwyn

Steve & Cheryl Timyan

Dr. Steven & Laura Triezenberg

Stephen & Anne Tuuk

David & Carol Van Andel

Steve & Amy Van Andel

Maria Van Til

Dr. George Vande Woude

Brian & Lori Vander Baan

Allen & Nancy VanderLaan

Don VanDine

David & Beth VanPortfliet

Christopher & Dana Vinton

Phillip & Kathleen Vogelsang

Tom Welch

Geoffrey & LeeAnne Widlak

Scott & Rebecca Wierda

James & Sue Williams

Greg Willit & Meg Miller Willit

Leslie & Jane Wong

James & Jane Zwiers

Dr. Dorothy C. Armstrong

Keegan Balk

Robert & Katie Barcelona

Chad Bassett

Lindsay Benedict

Christopher Billmeier

Paige Cornetet

Blake Crabb

Jenna DeBest

Aaron & Afton DeVos

Samuel DeVries

Tad Dobre

Alex Ehlert-VanBeveren

Jennifer Fischer

David Granger

Mary Hilger

April Hirdes

Ken Hoffman & Lisa Rose

Jordan Hoyer

Jason & Brandi Huyser

Eric Jones

Alison Keutgen

Kevin & Katie Kileen

Eric Kovalak

Michael & Andrea Leestma

Michael Lomonaco

Casey Lowery

Geoff Ludema

Peter Medema

Elizabeth Mines

Mike & Rachel Mraz

Christopher & Alyssa Nance

Dana Nicholson

Kendra Osowski

Matt & Beth Osterhaven

Gregory Paplawsky

Eric Payne

Stacy Peck

Leland & Alexandra Perez

Justin Pinto

Cody Pletcher

Nicole Probst

Jeff & Deidre Remtema

Charlie & Tanya Rowerdink

Alex Schrotenboer

Lisa Schrotenboer

Lindsay Slagboom

Jon & Allison Sleight

Meriden Smucker

Joseph Spoelhof

Timothy Streit

Mark Stuit

Elizabeth Terhorst

Bob Tsironis

Aaron & Hailey Van Andel

Chris Van Andel

Jesse & Heather Van Andel

Kyle Van Andel

Daniel VandenBosch

Sarah Vander Baan

David & Sarah Vanderveen

Sydney Vinton

Alison Waske Sutter

Allie Wittenbach

Aaron Wong

Megan Zubrickas

Thank you, Board of Governors.

Thank you, JBoard Ambassadors.

As members of the Van Andel Institute Board of Governors, you serve as ambassadors who help advance the Institute’s mission and vision in the local community.

Thank you for being our partners and contributing significantly to our success.

As JBoard Ambassadors, you are leaders who exhibit the power of young professionals to make a difference. We appreciate the energy and dedication you bring to the Institute.

Thank you for your vision and your friendship in our efforts to improve the health and enhance the lives of current and future generations.

56 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2018 | 57


333 Bostwick Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 | P 616.234.5000 | vai.org

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!