2017 Annual Report

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Through biomedical research and science education,<br />

Van Andel Institute is committed to improving the health and<br />

enhancing the lives of current and future generations.

Table of Contents<br />

2 A Letter from David Van Andel<br />

4 Research<br />

6 Beyond the Brain<br />

8 Translating Discovery into Life-Changing Care<br />

10 Meet Van Andel Research Institute’s<br />

Principal Investigators<br />

16 Investigating Life's Smallest Components<br />

18 Going Further, Together<br />

20 Education<br />

22 Connecting Two Worlds<br />

24 Van Andel Education Institute, NASA & the<br />

Girl Scouts Team Up to Take Girls to the Stars!<br />

25 Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation Provides<br />

Students with a Summer of Discovery<br />

26 Donors & Philanthropic Partners<br />

28 Profiles in Hope — Van Andel Institute Donors<br />

Turn Love & Loss into Action<br />

30 Events Photos<br />

36 A Perfect Day, an Unforgettable Memory<br />

38 Sources of Funding<br />

39 Society of Hope<br />

40 Signature Special Event Sponsors<br />

41 Institute Leadership Team<br />

42 Board & Council Members<br />


A Letter from David Van Andel<br />

Dear Friends,<br />

This has been a year of extraordinary progress. Your<br />

generous support has helped us expand collaborations,<br />

achieve record levels of grant funding, publish more<br />

scientific advances than ever before and move closer to<br />

solving the mysteries surrounding some of humanity’s<br />

most devastating diseases.<br />

Our collaborations with researchers, educators and worldclass<br />

organizations have united us all with a common<br />

goal — to conquer diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s as<br />

quickly as possible. In Grand Rapids, we are discovering<br />

new ways to work together and build a critical mass of<br />

talent in the region. At the same time, we’re reaching<br />

out across the world, expanding collaborations with an<br />

impressive list of leading organizations, scientists and<br />

physicians.<br />

External recognition for the work we do has reached<br />

an all-time high and is reflected in the 37 new funding<br />

awards our scientists earned in <strong>2017</strong> totaling $27.7<br />

million, including $23.6 million in federal grants. We also<br />

broke another Van Andel Institute record in <strong>2017</strong>, with<br />

publications of scientific discoveries reaching an all-time<br />

high — 145 scientific papers, 132 of them peer-reviewed.<br />

Many of these studies were published in prestigious<br />

journals, such as Nature and Proceedings of the National<br />

Academy of Sciences, which reinforces the real-world impact<br />

of our work.<br />

Discoveries at VAI are providing important clues to better<br />

understand how our bodies function in health and disease.<br />

To aid in this endeavor, we installed one of the world’s most<br />

powerful microscopes, called a cryo-electron microscope.<br />

Already, it is revealing intricate molecular secrets, detailing<br />

three-dimensional, atomic-level portraits of life’s smallest<br />

components, which will help us understand disease and<br />

devise new targets for drug therapies. In addition, our<br />

Parkinson’s research is unlocking vital clues to how the<br />

disease may be triggered through inflammation and factors<br />

in the nose and gut.<br />

As we move into our third decade, we continue to push<br />

toward creating a better tomorrow through the work we do<br />

today. Your encouragement and generosity help us build<br />

that brighter future for generations to come. Thank you for<br />

all you’ve done to help us achieve these vital goals.<br />

Warmly,<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO<br />

2 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 3

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

is a world leader in cancer epigenetics and Parkinson’s disease research.<br />

Collaborating with academia, industry and philanthropy, the Institute<br />

orchestrates cutting-edge clinical trials to improve human health.<br />


ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 5

Beyond the Brain Do the secrets of Parkinson's lie in the nose, the gut and inflammation?<br />

In 1817, British surgeon James Parkinson penned the<br />

first medical description of the disease that now bears<br />

his name. He chronicled a singular, inexplicable disorder<br />

that afflicted his patients — usually people advanced in<br />

age — with tremors and rigidity, eventually robbing them of<br />

their ability to move.<br />

Two hundred years have passed since then, and in many<br />

ways, the causes of Parkinson’s have continued to defy<br />

definition. But now, thanks to recent breakthroughs and<br />

technological advancements, scientists are chipping away at<br />

the seemingly impenetrable façade of Parkinson's disease,<br />

revealing a complex tapestry of causes, symptoms and<br />

molecular mechanisms that may revolutionize patient care<br />

and improve the lives of millions around the globe.<br />

Connecting the dots<br />

For much of the time since the initial publication of James<br />

Parkinson’s Essay on the Shaking Palsy, Parkinson’s disease<br />

was considered a purely motor condition, largely attributed<br />

to a brain progressively starved of the neurotransmitter<br />

dopamine, which controls voluntary movement. Like many<br />

other conditions, Parkinson's was viewed as one disease<br />

with likely one cure out there somewhere, waiting to be<br />

discovered.<br />

The reality, said Dr. Patrik Brundin, Van Andel Research<br />

Institute associate director of research, isn’t quite so<br />

clear cut.<br />

“Parkinson’s is an incredibly diverse disease and can vary<br />

widely from person to person,” Brundin said. “Its study<br />

and treatment necessitate a sophisticated approach and<br />

require us to recognize there may not just be one solution<br />

but many.”<br />

Under Brundin’s leadership, scientists in the Institute’s<br />

Center for Neurodegenerative Science working with<br />

collaborators around the world are tackling Parkinson’s<br />

from every angle, investigating its risk factors, its causes<br />

and its vulnerabilities. Their goal? To find ways to slow or<br />

stop its progression, something no current therapy can do.<br />

Moving past motor symptoms<br />

We now know that a host of seemingly unrelated<br />

symptoms can predate a Parkinson’s diagnosis by years, or<br />

even decades. Chief among them are the loss of a person’s<br />

sense of smell and intestinal issues, such as constipation.<br />

“For a long time, we didn’t entirely grasp the significance<br />

of these other, non-motor symptoms,” Brundin said. “Now,<br />

we understand they are not only important precursors<br />

but also hint at the very basis of the disease itself. If we<br />

understand what’s happening early on in the disease,<br />

before motor symptoms appear, we can harness that<br />

knowledge to find ways to slow or possibly prevent it.”<br />

In a series of discoveries, the most recent published in<br />

<strong>2017</strong>, Brundin’s team revealed how a toxic protein called<br />

alpha-synuclein, long linked to Parkinson’s, travels from<br />

the nose into the olfactory bulb, the area of the brain<br />

responsible for processing scents. From there, these<br />

proteins move from cell to cell, clogging up the molecular<br />

machinery required to keep cells healthy and functioning.<br />

These proteins eventually reach a region rich with<br />

dopamine-producing cells, where scientists theorize alphasynuclein<br />

wreaks havoc, killing cells and starving the brain<br />

of the chemical needed for movement.<br />

The nose isn’t the only place harboring a reserve of toxic<br />

proteins with a direct route to the brain. Something similar<br />

may also be happening in the gut, which is connected to<br />

the brain via the “superhighway” of the vagus nerve, one<br />

of the longest nerves in the human body. It’s here that<br />

Assistant Professor Dr. Viviane Labrie is searching for<br />

reasons why normal alpha-synuclein changes into its toxic<br />

form and how this process — and its spread to the brain —<br />

could be prevented.<br />

“While the gut and the nose are clearly very different,<br />

they have one important thing in common — frequent<br />

contact with the outside world, through breathing and<br />

food consumption, respectively,” Labrie said. “Although<br />

environmental factors play a role in Parkinson’s disease,<br />

they can’t be the only things. We all breathe, and we all eat,<br />

but we all don’t get Parkinson’s. There has to be something<br />

else at play.”<br />

The tipping point<br />

The secret may lie, at least partially, in yet another normal<br />

process gone haywire. Inflammation is the body’s response<br />

to insult or injury, a manifestation of a marshaled immune<br />

system that sends a chemical flood to help heal a wound<br />

or respond to a stressor. There is a catch though — for<br />

inflammation to help rather than hurt, it must be silenced<br />

when it’s no longer needed. When inflammation sticks<br />

around, it can disrupt normal cellular function, interfering<br />

with processes such as the removal of toxic forms of alphasynuclein.<br />

“We’re learning, thanks to intense research in our lab and<br />

in the labs of our colleagues, that inflammation likely plays<br />

a central role in the incredibly complicated process that<br />

triggers Parkinson’s,” said Associate Professor Dr. Lena<br />

Brundin. “Reducing inflammation is a promising therapeutic<br />

strategy that may provide a tremendous opportunity to<br />

6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>


attack the disease from a new direction.”<br />

Here again, the nose may harbor important clues. Fueled<br />

by a set of new Department of Defense grants totaling<br />

$4.37 million, Dr. Patrik Brundin and collaborators at<br />

University of Southern California and Michigan State<br />

University are investigating the role of air pollution as a<br />

potential contributing factor to Parkinson’s. Their theory?<br />

That environmental factors such as pollution build on<br />

a person’s specific genetic influences and age — the<br />

single greatest risk factor for Parkinson’s — setting off an<br />

uncontrolled inflammatory chain reaction.<br />

Bringing it together<br />

In all, Parkinson’s is likely the result of a complex mix of<br />

genetics, epigenetics and environmental triggers that<br />

set a cascade of problems into motion. Some cause the<br />

abnormal clumping of alpha-synuclein, turning it from a<br />

harmless protein into a toxic one, while others bog down<br />

cellular machinery, interfering with processes designed to<br />

keep cells healthy. Genetic and epigenetic factors almost<br />

certainly are at play as well, influencing individuals’ risk of<br />

developing the disease. Each newly identified contributing<br />

factor reveals a chink in the armor of Parkinson’s, ripe for<br />

targeting by new or repurposed medications.<br />

“We’ve come a long way since James Parkinson put ink to<br />

paper, from viewing the disease as a one-size-fits-all motor<br />

disorder to our current understanding of Parkinson’s as a<br />

diverse multi-system event,” Dr. Patrik Brundin said.<br />

“Together with collaborators around the world, our<br />

scientists are pushing forward quickly. We’re on the edge<br />

of ushering in a monumental change in how Parkinson’s<br />

patients are diagnosed and treated. I’m more excited —<br />

and hopeful — now than ever before.”<br />


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 7

Translating Discovery into Life-Changing Care<br />

When it comes to defeating cancer and Parkinson’s<br />

disease, collaboration is one of our strongest assets.<br />

That’s why Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) teamed up<br />

with Stand Up To Cancer, the American Association for<br />

Cancer Research, The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, The Michael J.<br />

Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and other leading<br />

organizations, scientists and physicians — to see what we<br />

can do when our collective expertise and resources are<br />

combined. The result is a slate of clinical trials, critical steps<br />

on the road from the lab to the doctor’s office that ensure<br />

new treatments are safe and effective. If successful, these<br />

therapies could help improve the lives of millions of people<br />

suffering from these devastating diseases. Active clinical<br />

trials include the following.<br />

Cancer<br />

The VARI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team has six ongoing<br />

clinical trials at medical centers across the U.S. and in<br />

Copenhagen, Denmark. Two of these trials — non-small<br />

cell lung cancer and bladder cancer — are supported by<br />

two of 10 inaugural SU2C Catalyst ® grants, totaling nearly<br />

$5.5 million. The trials are evaluating new combination<br />

treatments for:<br />

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive blood<br />

cancer that is notoriously difficult to treat and has poor<br />

long-term survival.<br />

Bladder cancer, a tough-to-treat cancer that is the sixth<br />

most common type of cancer diagnosed in the U.S.<br />

*Supported by a SU2C Catalyst ® grant<br />

Metastatic colorectal cancer, the second leading cause<br />

of cancer death in men and women combined in the U.S.<br />

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and AML, which<br />

also are the subjects of a small pilot study that is<br />

investigating whether a simple addition to the standard<br />

care regimen may improve the current therapy’s ability to<br />

impede cancer cell growth and destroy cancer cells. This<br />

combination is also being explored in patients with clonal<br />

cytopenia of undetermined significance (CCUS) — thought<br />

to be a potential precursor to MDS in some patients.<br />

MDS and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML),<br />

two blood cancers that are incurable with current drugs<br />

and that may progress to AML, a much more aggressive<br />

cancer.<br />

Non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type of<br />

lung cancer, which accounts for more than 80 percent of<br />

cases. Lung cancers are a major public health problem and<br />

claim more lives annually than any other type of cancer.<br />

*Supported by a SU2C Catalyst ® grant<br />

8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>


Parkinson's disease<br />

The Linked Clinical Trials (LCT) initiative, spearheaded by<br />

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and supported by VARI, aims<br />

to shift the paradigm on Parkinson’s treatment from<br />

managing symptoms to slowing or stopping the disease’s<br />

progress. By investigating medications that are already<br />

approved to treat other conditions and that impact the<br />

same biological processes that are at play in Parkinson’s,<br />

scientists hope to cut the time it takes for new, more<br />

effective medications to be approved, getting them to<br />

the people who need them faster. Medications being<br />

investigated by LCT include the following.<br />

Ambroxol, a medication originally developed to treat<br />

respiratory ailments, which has shown promise in<br />

correcting an underlying molecular problem in Parkinson’s.<br />

Deferiprone, a medication that removes excess iron from<br />

the blood and that is being investigated for its potential<br />

to reduce high iron levels in the area of the brain most<br />

affected by Parkinson’s.<br />

EPI-589, an experimental drug originally designed to treat<br />

rare mitochondrial diseases in children.<br />

A growing body of evidence suggests similar dysfunctions in<br />

mitochondria, the power plants of cells, may also contribute<br />

to Parkinson’s.<br />

Exenatide, a Type 2 diabetes medication that has shown<br />

outstanding promise in lab experiments and clinical trials as<br />

a therapy that may slow the progression of Parkinson’s.<br />

Following positive results from a phase two trial reported in<br />

<strong>2017</strong>, plans for a larger, phase three trial are in the works.<br />

Liraglutide, a Type 2 diabetes medication that belongs<br />

to a class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists and prompts the<br />

release of insulin, thereby lowering glucose levels in the<br />

blood when bound to its receptor.<br />

Recent findings suggest that when liraglutide activates<br />

these receptors in the brain, the drug provides protection<br />

against degenerative damage to key brain cells, specifically<br />

those affected in Parkinson’s disease.<br />

Nilotinib, a medication originally developed to treat the<br />

blood cancer leukemia. This multicenter trial is supported<br />

by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research,<br />

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and VARI.<br />

Simvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering medication that is<br />

part of the PD-STAT trial, which is underway at 21 medical<br />

centers across the United Kingdom.<br />

Learn more at vai.org/clinical-trials.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 9

Meet Van Andel Research Institute’s Principal Investigators<br />

Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) is composed of three centers and 32 principal<br />

investigators, each with their own area of expertise and research projects.<br />

VARI Leadership<br />

Peter Jones<br />

Chief Scientific Officer;<br />

Director, Center for<br />

Epigenetics<br />

Peter Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc., is a<br />

pioneer in epigenetics, a growing<br />

field that explores how genes<br />

are regulated and provides new avenues for developing<br />

therapies for cancer and other diseases. His discoveries<br />

have helped usher in an entirely new class of drugs that<br />

have been approved to treat blood cancer and are being<br />

investigated in other tumor types. Dr. Jones is a member<br />

of the National Academy of Sciences and the American<br />

Academy of Arts & Sciences. He and his colleague<br />

Dr. Stephen Baylin co-lead the Van Andel Research<br />

Institute–Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team.<br />

Dr. Jones is the Institute's chief scientific officer and<br />

director of its Center for Epigenetics.<br />

10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong><br />

Patrik Brundin<br />

Associate Director of<br />

Research; Director, Center for<br />

Neurodegenerative Science<br />

Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.,<br />

investigates molecular mechanisms<br />

in Parkinson’s disease, and his<br />

goals are to develop new therapies aimed at slowing<br />

or stopping disease progression or repairing damage.<br />

He is one of the top-cited researchers in the field of<br />

neurodegenerative disease and leads international efforts<br />

to repurpose drugs to treat Parkinson’s. Brundin is director<br />

of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science and associate<br />

director of research for VARI.<br />

Bart Williams<br />

Director, Center for Cancer<br />

and Cell Biology<br />

Bart Williams, Ph.D., studies the<br />

building blocks of bone growth on<br />

behalf of the millions suffering from<br />

diseases such as osteoporosis.<br />

He seeks new ways of altering cell signaling pathways<br />

to encourage healthy bone development and deter the<br />

spread of cancer to the skeleton. Williams is director of the<br />

Center for Cancer and Cell Biology.<br />

Steven J. Triezenberg<br />

Dean, Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School; Professor,<br />

Center for Epigenetics<br />

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D.,<br />

explores the genetic and epigenetic<br />

control systems of viruses to<br />

understand how infections progress and to reveal new<br />

ways to stop those infections. His discoveries with herpes<br />

simplex viruses have opened up new possibilities for<br />

antiviral drug development and have revealed new insights<br />

into how human cells control gene expression. In addition<br />

to running a lab at VARI, Dr. Triezenberg is the founding<br />

dean of Van Andel Institute Graduate School.<br />

Scott Jewell<br />

Director, Core Technologies<br />

and Services<br />

Scott Jewell, Ph.D., leads<br />

Van Andel Research Institute’s<br />

Core Technologies and Services,<br />

which provides technology and<br />

specialized expertise for research investigators. Cores and<br />

services include bioinformatics and biostatistics, cryo-<br />

EM, confocal microscopy and quantitative imaging, flow<br />

cytometry, genomics, pathology and biorepository, smallanimal<br />

imaging, vivarium management and transgenics.<br />

Jewell is a past president of the International Society for<br />

Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER).


Center for Epigenetics<br />

Research areas: Epigenetics, cancer, heart disease,<br />

neuroepigenetics and structural biology<br />

Stephen Baylin<br />

Stephen Baylin, M.D., studies the<br />

body’s genetic control systems —<br />

called epigenetics — searching<br />

for vulnerabilities in cancer. Baylin<br />

is a leader in this field, ranking<br />

among the first to trace epigenetic<br />

causes of cancer. His studies have led to new therapies for<br />

common cancers, like breast, lung, colorectal and many<br />

others. He is co-leader of the VARI–SU2C Epigenetics<br />

Dream Team with Dr. Peter Jones, co-director of Johns<br />

Hopkins’ Cancer Biology Division and associate director for<br />

research at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.<br />

Stefan Jovinge<br />

Stefan Jovinge, M.D., Ph.D.,<br />

develops ways to help the heart<br />

heal itself and has led dozens<br />

of clinical trials in regenerative<br />

medicine. As a critical care<br />

cardiologist and scientist, he uses<br />

a bench-to-bedside approach in an effort to give patients<br />

with serious heart conditions longer, healthier lives. The<br />

clinical platform for his research is the Cardiothoracic<br />

Intensive Care Unit at Spectrum Health Hospital's Fred and<br />

Lena Meijer Heart Center, and the basic science effort in<br />

regenerative medicine is performed at VARI. He serves as<br />

director of the DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program.<br />

Peter W. Laird<br />

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D., seeks<br />

a detailed understanding of<br />

the molecular foundations of<br />

cancer with a particular focus<br />

on identifying crucial epigenetic<br />

alterations that convert otherwise<br />

healthy cells into cancer cells. He is widely regarded<br />

as an international leader in this effort and has helped<br />

design some of the world’s state-of-the-art tools to aid in<br />

epigenetics research. Laird is a principal investigator for the<br />

National Cancer Institute’s Genome Data Analysis Network<br />

and played a leadership role in The Cancer Genome Atlas, a<br />

multi-institutional effort to molecularly map cancers. He is a<br />

professor in the Center for Epigenetics.<br />

Huilin Li<br />

Huilin Li, Ph.D., uses cryo-electron<br />

microscopy (cryo-EM) to reveal<br />

the most basic building blocks of<br />

DNA replication and other systems<br />

vital for life. He has been at the<br />

vanguard of cryo-EM for more than<br />

20 years, and his research has implications for some of<br />

the world’s most critical public health concerns, including<br />

tuberculosis, cancer, mental illness and many more. He is a<br />

professor in the Center for Epigenetics.<br />

Gerd Pfeifer<br />

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D., studies how<br />

the body switches genes on and<br />

off, a biological process called<br />

methylation that, when faulty, can<br />

lead to cancer or other diseases.<br />

His studies range from the effects<br />

of tobacco smoke on genetic and epigenetic systems<br />

to the discovery of a mechanism that may help protect<br />

the brain from neurodegeneration. Pfeifer’s studies<br />

have implications across a range of diseases, including<br />

cancer, Parkinson’s, diabetes and many others. Pfeifer is a<br />

professor in the Center for Epigenetics.<br />

Scott Rothbart<br />

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D., studies<br />

the ways in which cells pack and<br />

unpack DNA. This complex process<br />

twists and coils roughly 2 meters<br />

of unwound DNA into a space less<br />

than 1/10 th the width of a human<br />

hair. Although this process is impressive, it is also subject<br />

to errors that can cause cancer and other disorders.<br />

Rothbart seeks new targets for drug development in this<br />

process. He is an assistant professor in the Center for<br />

Epigenetics.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 11

Meet Van Andel Research Institute’s Principal Investigators (continued)<br />

Hui Shen<br />

Hui Shen, Ph.D., develops new<br />

approaches to cancer prevention,<br />

detection and treatment by<br />

studying the interaction between<br />

genes and their control systems,<br />

called epigenetics. Her research<br />

focuses on women’s cancers, particularly ovarian cancer,<br />

and has shed new light on the underlying mechanisms of<br />

other cancer types, including breast, kidney and prostate<br />

cancers. She is an assistant professor in the Center for<br />

Epigenetics.<br />

Piroska Szabó<br />

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D., studies the<br />

flow of epigenetic information from<br />

parents to their offspring, with a<br />

focus on how epigenetic markers<br />

are remodeled during egg and<br />

sperm production and how these<br />

markers are rewritten after fertilization. These processes<br />

have profound implications on fertility and embryo<br />

development. Disturbances in epigenetic remodeling are<br />

thought to contribute to disease conditions lasting well into<br />

adulthood. Szabó is an associate professor in the Center<br />

for Epigenetics.<br />

Tim Triche<br />

As a statistician and computational<br />

biologist with an interest in clonal<br />

evolution and cancers of the<br />

blood, Tim Triche Jr.'s, Ph.D., work<br />

focuses on wedding data-intensive<br />

molecular phenotyping to adaptive<br />

clinical trial designs, in an effort to accelerate the pace<br />

of drug targeting and development in rare or refractory<br />

diseases. Triche is an assistant professor in the Center for<br />

Epigenetics.<br />

Center for Neurodegenerative Science<br />

Research areas: Parkinson’s disease, depression/<br />

suicide, aging, prion disease, Alzheimer’s disease and<br />

neuroepigenetics<br />

Lena Brundin<br />

As a psychiatrist and a scientist,<br />

Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., seeks<br />

ways to diagnose and treat<br />

depression and suicidality by<br />

studying inflammation of the<br />

nervous system. Her findings may<br />

lead to earlier interventions for depressive patients and<br />

for the development of a new class of antidepressants<br />

that targets the immune system. She also investigates<br />

how inflammatory mechanisms can damage nerve cells in<br />

Parkinson’s disease. She is an associate professor in the<br />

Center for Neurodegenerative Science.<br />

Gerhard Coetzee<br />

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D., searches<br />

the human genome for minuscule<br />

changes that contribute to the<br />

onset, progression and drug<br />

resistance of many diseases,<br />

including cancer, Parkinson’s and<br />

rare and heritable disorders. His team deploys genome<br />

sequencing technologies and high-powered computational<br />

arrays to tease out patterns and interactions of markers<br />

and treatment targets from among the human genome’s<br />

more than three billion DNA base pairs. Coetzee is a<br />

professor in the Center for Neurodegenerative Science.<br />

Jeffrey Kordower<br />

Jeffrey Kordower, Ph.D., is an<br />

international authority on the onset<br />

of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and<br />

Huntington’s diseases, and works<br />

to develop new procedures aimed<br />

at slowing disease progression<br />

or reversing damage to the brain. He holds a primary<br />

appointment at Rush University in Chicago and is a<br />

Director’s Scholar at VARI, where he focuses on designing<br />

preclinical studies and clinical trials to translate these new<br />

approaches into meaningful changes for people suffering<br />

with movement disorders.<br />

12 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>


Viviane Labrie<br />

Viviane Labrie, Ph.D., studies<br />

the dynamic interplay between<br />

the human genome and<br />

its control system — the<br />

epigenome — to understand how<br />

neurodegenerative diseases start<br />

and progress in an effort to develop improved diagnostics<br />

and treatments. Labrie’s scientific pursuits have deepened<br />

understanding of conditions including Parkinson's,<br />

Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and lactose intolerance.<br />

She has also developed new methods for epigenome<br />

analysis. She is an assistant professor in the Center for<br />

Neurodegenerative Science.<br />

Jiyan Ma<br />

Jiyan Ma, Ph.D., studies<br />

abnormal proteins that cause<br />

neurodegenerative diseases,<br />

including Parkinson’s disease and<br />

prion diseases in humans and<br />

animals. His lab has developed<br />

new ways to understand how these proteins spread and<br />

cause diseases in humans and animals. The lab is also<br />

developing new approaches to diagnose and treat these<br />

devastating disorders. Ma is a professor in the Center for<br />

Neurodegenerative Science.<br />

Darren Moore<br />

Darren Moore, Ph.D., seeks<br />

new diagnostic and treatment<br />

approaches for Parkinson’s by<br />

investigating the inherited form of<br />

the disease, which accounts for 5<br />

to 10 percent of cases. He aims to<br />

translate the understanding of these genetic mutations<br />

into better treatments and new diagnostic tools for<br />

Parkinson’s, both inherited and non-inherited. Discoveries<br />

in Moore’s lab routinely elucidate the faulty molecular<br />

interactions that transform healthy, functioning neurons<br />

into diseased ones. Moore is a professor in the Center for<br />

Neurodegenerative Science.<br />

An award-winning year<br />

In <strong>2017</strong>, we celebrated the election of two of our<br />

own into prestigious societies, reflecting a lifetime of<br />

scientific achievement and reinforcing the Institute’s<br />

growing reputation as a home for innovative and<br />

impactful research.<br />

Dr. Peter Jones<br />

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

In addition to being awarded a 7-year, $7.8 million<br />

Outstanding Investigator Award from the National<br />

Institutes of Health, Dr. Jones was inducted into the<br />

American Academy of Arts & Sciences, an elite group that<br />

includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer<br />

Prize winners. His election comes a year after he was<br />

named to the National Academy of Sciences.<br />

Dr. Stephen Baylin<br />

Director’s Scholar, VARI<br />

Co-Head of Cancer Biology, Johns Hopkins University<br />

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

In May <strong>2017</strong>, Dr. Baylin became the third VARI-affiliated<br />

scientist to be elected to the prestigious National Academy<br />

of Sciences, which was founded in 1863 to advise the<br />

country on matters of science and technology. He joins<br />

Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Peter Jones and Dr. George<br />

Vande Woude, the Institute’s founding research director<br />

and distinguished scientific fellow, emeritus, among the<br />

society's storied ranks.<br />

With the elections of Drs. Jones and Baylin,<br />

VARI is now home to:<br />

3 members of the National Academy of Sciences<br />

3 members of the American Association for the<br />

Advancement of Science<br />

3 fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research<br />

2 members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 13

Meet Van Andel Research Institute’s Principal Investigators (continued)<br />

Center for Cancer and Cell Biology<br />

Research areas: Asthma, diabetes, neurofibromatosis<br />

Type 1, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, sarcoma, tuberous<br />

sclerosis and blood, bone, breast, colorectal, pancreatic<br />

and prostate cancers<br />

Juan Du<br />

Juan Du, Ph.D. seeks to understand<br />

the brain’s intricate communication<br />

systems using state-of-the-art<br />

structural biology approaches,<br />

such as cryo-EM. She is an<br />

assistant professor in the Center<br />

for Cancer and Cell Biology.<br />

Patrick Grohar<br />

Patrick Grohar, M.D., Ph.D.,<br />

develops new drugs to treat bone<br />

cancer in children, in addition to<br />

pursuing a deeper understanding<br />

of the mechanisms underlying<br />

sarcomas and related conditions.<br />

Once these potential therapies are proven safe and<br />

effective in the lab, his team translates these potential<br />

therapies into clinical trials for children with few other<br />

options. He is an associate professor in the Center for<br />

Cancer and Cell Biology and a pediatric oncologist at<br />

Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.<br />

Brian Haab<br />

Brian Haab, Ph.D., searches for new<br />

ways to diagnose and stratify<br />

pancreatic cancers based on the<br />

chemical fingerprints tumors left<br />

behind. Part of the problem Haab<br />

aims to solve is that cancers often<br />

look and behave normally — until after they’ve started<br />

making people sick. Haab is sleuthing out clues to build a<br />

library of diagnostic tools that will help providers diagnose<br />

tumors earlier and optimize treatment. He is a professor in<br />

the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology.<br />

Xiaohong Li<br />

Xiaohong Li, Ph.D., studies how and<br />

why various cancers, particularly<br />

prostate and breast cancer cells,<br />

migrate from their original site<br />

and spread to the bone. These<br />

cells stay dormant but might wake<br />

up years later and grow up to become bone metastases,<br />

causing debilitating pain and complicating treatments. Li<br />

hopes that a better understanding of metastatic cancers<br />

will lead to new diagnostic tests and targeted therapies.<br />

She is an assistant professor in the Center for Cancer and<br />

Cell Biology.<br />

Wei Lü<br />

Wei Lü, Ph.D., is working to unravel<br />

how brain cells communicate with<br />

each other. Using techniques<br />

such as cryo-EM, his work<br />

has contributed to the field’s<br />

understanding of molecules that<br />

play crucial roles in the development and function of the<br />

nervous system. He is an assistant professor in the Center<br />

for Cancer and Cell Biology.<br />

Karsten Melcher<br />

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D., studies<br />

molecular structure and cellular<br />

communication, which have<br />

implications for finding new<br />

treatments for serious health<br />

threats, including cancer, diabetes<br />

and obesity. His expertise extends beyond human cells<br />

— his research into plant hormones may one day lead<br />

to heartier crops that resist drought and help meet the<br />

nutritional demands of a growing global population.<br />

Dr. Melcher is an associate professor in the Center for<br />

Cancer and Cell Biology.<br />

14 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>


Lorenzo Sempere<br />

Lorenzo Sempere, Ph.D., studies<br />

the role of microRNAs in the origin<br />

and growth of cancer. These very<br />

short strands of genetic material<br />

were discovered just over 15<br />

years ago and are now recognized<br />

as dynamic regulatory modules of the larger human<br />

genome. Sempere targets microRNAs in an effort to<br />

develop new cancer drugs, specifically for pancreatic and<br />

breast cancers. He is an assistant professor in the Center<br />

for Cancer and Cell and Biology.<br />

Matt Steensma<br />

Matt Steensma, M.D., studies<br />

the genetic and molecular<br />

factors that cause benign<br />

tumors to become cancers to<br />

find vulnerabilities that may be<br />

targeted for treatment. As a<br />

scientist at VARI and a practicing surgeon at Spectrum<br />

Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, he is committed<br />

to translating scientific discoveries into treatments that<br />

improve patients’ lives.<br />

George Vande Woude<br />

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.,<br />

is a titan in cancer biology. He<br />

is the founding director of<br />

VARI, which he led for a decade.<br />

His discovery and description<br />

of the MET receptor tyrosine<br />

kinase as an oncogene, together with its activating ligand<br />

hepatocyte growth factor, have led to new possibilities<br />

for cancer therapies and revolutionized the way scientists<br />

view the disease, especially in tumor progression. He is a<br />

distinguished scientific fellow, emeritus, in the Center for<br />

Cancer and Cell Biology and a member of the National<br />

Academy of Sciences.<br />

Ning Wu<br />

Ning Wu, Ph.D., investigates<br />

the interface between cellular<br />

metabolism and cellular signaling,<br />

particularly as they relate to<br />

cancer. On the most basic<br />

level, cancer is fundamentally a<br />

disease of uncontrolled cell growth, and Wu believes that<br />

understanding a tumor’s voracious energy requirements<br />

and altered signaling pathways will lead to new treatments<br />

that optimize existing combination therapies and identify<br />

novel therapeutic targets. She is an assistant professor in<br />

the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology.<br />

H. Eric Xu<br />

H. Eric Xu, Ph.D., explores<br />

the structure of molecules in<br />

the body’s complex hormone<br />

signaling system, which plays a<br />

vital role in health and disease.<br />

He is particularly known for his<br />

discoveries in defining the structure of molecules critical<br />

to the development of new drugs for cancer, diabetes and<br />

many others. He is a professor in VARI’s Center for Cancer<br />

and Cell Biology and serves as director of VARI–SIMM<br />

Research Center in Shanghai, China.<br />

Tao Yang<br />

Tao Yang, Ph.D., studies the<br />

signaling systems that govern<br />

skeletal stem cells and the role<br />

they play in diseases such as<br />

osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.<br />

Bones are the largest producer of<br />

adult stem cells, which mature into cartilage, fat or bone<br />

tissue — a process that falters with age. Yang seeks a<br />

better understanding of these systems in search of new<br />

treatments for degenerative bone disorders. He is an<br />

assistant professor in the Center for Cancer and<br />

Cell Biology.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 15

Investigating Life's Smallest Components<br />

At first glance, the image rotating on Dr. Huilin<br />

Li’s computer screen looked like a tangled mass of<br />

ribbons, with teal whorls looping through blue ones<br />

and an elegantly spiraling pink whorl running through<br />

the middle.<br />

But Li’s trained eyes saw so much more — a critical piece<br />

of molecular machinery responsible for helping copy DNA,<br />

the instructions for life, revealed in never-before-seen<br />

detail thanks to a revolutionary technology called<br />

cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM).<br />

For Li and his colleagues in Van Andel Research Institute’s<br />

(VARI) growing team of structural biologists, cryo-EM offers<br />

an unprecedented look at a world that is minuscule in size<br />

and massive in impact, a realm of tiny molecular workers<br />

that control every aspect of biological function in health<br />

and disease.<br />

“Cryo-EM is like space exploration in reverse — rather<br />

than seeking out the cosmos with powerful telescopes,<br />

technology is turned inward, revealing the structures of<br />

life’s smallest components in remarkable clarity,” Li said.<br />

“Because the shape of molecules is intimately linked to<br />

their role in the body, understanding exactly what they look<br />

like has immense potential for improving human health.”<br />

The right tools and the right people at the right time<br />

Although cryo-EM has been around for decades, advances<br />

in technology and technique have only recently turned it<br />

into a scientific juggernaut, even landing cryo-EM a coveted<br />

spot as Nature Method’s Breakthrough of the Year in 2015.<br />

Discovery after discovery continue to reinforce cryo-EM's<br />

value as a research tool, evidenced by the breathtaking<br />

images of previously elusive molecules that frequently<br />

adorn the covers of scientific journals around the world.<br />

16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong><br />

One thing was clear — to be a structural biology<br />

powerhouse, VARI needed to join the cryo-EM community.<br />

With the generous support of CEO David Van Andel and the<br />

hard work of people across the Institute, VARI’s $10 million<br />

David Van Andel Advanced Cryo-Electron Microscopy Suite<br />

was up and running by early <strong>2017</strong> — a massive undertaking<br />

and an even more impressive achievement given the<br />

extensive renovations, installations and recruitment efforts<br />

required for completion.<br />

“The opening of our cryo-EM facility is a testament to the<br />

Institute’s commitment to life-changing science and the<br />

exemplary vision of our leadership, board and scientific<br />

team,” said Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Peter Jones. “Cryo-EM<br />

gives us insight that has never before been attainable. We<br />

believe the result will be nothing short of a revolution in<br />

our biological understanding that will lead to more effective<br />

medications for a multitude of diseases.”<br />

The crown jewel of the facility is an FEI Titan Krios from<br />

Thermo Fisher Scientific, a behemoth of a microscope that<br />

can visualize molecules 1/10,000 th the width of a human<br />

hair. There are fewer than 120 Krioses in use globally,<br />

placing the Institute in the elite company of some of the<br />

world’s top-tier research organizations.<br />

As the suite was being built, VARI also grew its structural<br />

biology team, recruiting cryo-EM experts whose strengths<br />

aligned with the Institute’s mission of impacting human<br />

health. These new recruits joined VARI scientists<br />

Dr. H. Eric Xu and Dr. Karsten Melcher, both internationally<br />

recognized structural biologists who played key roles in<br />

bringing cryo-EM to VARI.<br />

The first to arrive were facility manager Dr. Gongpu Zhao,<br />

“Each day, our scientists<br />

are pushing the boundaries<br />

of what was once thought<br />

to be impossible, always<br />

with an eye on building a<br />

better tomorrow.”<br />

Dr. Peter Jones<br />

whose previous achievements included producing the<br />

first cryo-EM images of the HIV-1 virus’s inner shell, and Li,<br />

whose work has revealed mechanisms at the very basis of<br />

life. They were joined in <strong>2017</strong> by Dr. Wei Lü and<br />

Dr. Juan Du, who use cryo-EM to investigate molecules<br />

crucial to development and function of the brain and the<br />

nervous system.<br />

The team didn’t waste any time getting to work.<br />

From idea to application<br />

The beauty of cryo-EM lies in its speed and its ability to<br />

allow scientists to view molecular structures in their natural<br />

state, rather than the tough-to-produce crystallized form<br />

that some gold standard methods require. It works by flash<br />

freezing molecules and scanning them with an electron<br />

beam, a process that generates hundreds of thousands<br />

of two-dimensional images that are then assembled via<br />

computer into a three-dimensional portrait.<br />

The results are stunning in their clarity, allowing novel


observations that push scientific research into new<br />

directions and open additional avenues for therapeutic<br />

development. Because the function of a molecule is closely<br />

tied to its shape, the ability to see a molecule's structure in<br />

intricate detail gives scientists powerful insights that may<br />

be translated into new medications for a host of diseases.<br />

Think of it like a lock and key: If you know what the lock<br />

looks like, you can cut a key to fit it. In much the same way,<br />

scientists can design medications that link up with specific<br />

proteins, correcting a dysfunctional process. The result? A<br />

new, hopefully more effective treatment.<br />

In <strong>2017</strong>, the first two structures determined wholly on the<br />

Institute’s Krios were announced in prestigious journals.<br />

In October, Li and collaborators at Cold Spring Harbor<br />

Laboratory and Imperial College London published a<br />

portrait of Mcm2-7 helicase, a molecular complex that<br />

triggers DNA replication and plays a key role in the cell<br />

divisions that sustain life, in the Proceedings of the National<br />

Academy of Sciences. In December, Lü and Du’s images of<br />

the TRPM4 receptor, a protein that may be an important<br />

drug target for stroke and traumatic brain injury, appeared<br />

in the pages of Nature.<br />

Both are exceptional achievements on their own, but<br />

together, they are a herald of discoveries to come.<br />

“Science often comes down to the details, meaning that<br />

sometimes the smallest things may help solve the biggest<br />

problems,” Jones said. “Each day, our scientists are pushing<br />

the boundaries of what was once thought to be impossible,<br />

always with an eye on building a better tomorrow.”<br />


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 17

Going Further, Together Building a culture of collaboration in Grand Rapids<br />

In the past 30 years, Grand Rapids has undergone<br />

a renaissance — one that has revitalized the city's<br />

economy and transformed a formerly sleepy hilltop<br />

into a thriving center of scientific discovery and<br />

innovation.<br />

Once known as a manufacturing hub, the city is becoming<br />

a leader in research aimed at improving human health,<br />

a reputation that grows each day thanks to a vibrant<br />

community of scientists, educators and health care<br />

professionals who call Grand Rapids home.<br />

Nowhere is this more evident than the city’s Medical Mile,<br />

a stretch of Michigan Avenue that includes Van Andel<br />

Institute (VAI), Spectrum Health, Michigan State University<br />

(MSU) College of Human Medicine, Grand Valley State<br />

University, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community<br />

College and University of Michigan-Metro Health, and is<br />

close to collaborators such as Mercy Health and Mary<br />

Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. The impact of these<br />

organizations and of the community’s investment in their<br />

success is undeniable — since the groundbreaking of<br />

Breaking records<br />

As the economic impact of the Medical Mile continues to<br />

grow, so, too, does the amount of external funding earned<br />

by VARI scientists.<br />

Attaining federal funding is of special importance because<br />

it serves as a stamp of scientific validation, thanks in<br />

part to rigorous application and peer-review processes,<br />

and communicates to the world at large that third-party<br />

experts have found the work robust and valuable.<br />

the Institute in 1996, the Medical Mile has sparked more<br />

than $3 billion in research, education and health care<br />

infrastructure and is now home to more than 65 scientists<br />

and their labs.<br />

“The spirit of teamwork is alive and well in Grand Rapids,<br />

and is propelling the city to international prominence,”<br />

said Dr. Peter Jones, the Institute’s chief scientific officer.<br />

“No single organization did this alone; instead, it was a<br />

collaborative effort bolstered by a dedicated, passionate<br />

community that achieved the success we have today.”<br />

In September <strong>2017</strong>, the Medical Mile continued its<br />

trajectory with the opening of Michigan State University’s<br />

Grand Rapids Research Center, just down the hill from VAI.<br />

The six-story, 162,800-square-foot facility will house 44 labs<br />

dedicated to a mission that parallels the Institute’s — to<br />

enhance health through cutting-edge biomedical research.<br />

VAI and MSU have long collaborated on an institutional<br />

and an individual level, thanks in part to the many MSU<br />

scientists whose labs resided at the Institute until the<br />

Another important metric used to measure the Institute’s<br />

scientific impact is the publication of discoveries in<br />

scientific journals.<br />

We’re pleased to report that in <strong>2017</strong>, VARI scientists<br />

excelled on both fronts, earning more peer-reviewed<br />

federal grant funding and publishing more scientific papers<br />

than any other year in the Institute’s history.<br />

Grand Rapids Research Center opened in the fall and<br />

the close proximity of MSU College of Human Medicine’s<br />

Secchia Center, just across Michigan Avenue. With both<br />

organizations charting a course toward ambitious growth,<br />

which will at least double the number of world-class<br />

scientists in Grand Rapids, we plan to take our partnership<br />

to the next level.<br />

By sharing core scientific services, such as high-powered<br />

sequencing technology and analytical expertise,<br />

investigators at MSU and VAI will have an even more robust<br />

scientific support system bolstering their efforts. The goal<br />

is to further build a dynamic scientific environment, one<br />

in which investigators can focus on their life-changing<br />

research with easy access to the necessary resources.<br />

“We expect the results of our continued collaboration to<br />

be nothing short of transformative,” Jones said. “Together<br />

with all of our colleagues in Grand Rapids, we look<br />

forward to making our vision of a healthier, better<br />

tomorrow a reality.”<br />

In <strong>2017</strong>, VARI scientists ...<br />

• Received 37 new awards totaling $27.7 million<br />

(life of award)<br />

• Of those, 18 awards, or $23.6 million, are federal grants<br />

(life of award)<br />

• Published 145 publications, 132 of which are<br />

peer-reviewed<br />

18 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 19

Van Andel Education Institute<br />

is dedicated to creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical<br />

thinking thrive.<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

develops future leaders in biomedical research through an intense<br />

problem-focused Ph.D. degree in cell and molecular genetics.<br />

20 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 21

Connecting Two Worlds<br />

Dylan Dues is a graduate student on a decidedly<br />

difficult path — a path that requires long hours<br />

spent absorbing information, laboratory work and<br />

multiple rotations in a clinical setting. Dues is on his<br />

way to becoming a physician–scientist — a rare specialty<br />

that serves as a bridge between the research lab and<br />

clinical work with patients. Enrolled in the unique M.D./<br />

Ph.D. Dual Degree Program established by Van Andel<br />

Institute Graduate School (VAIGS) and the Michigan<br />

State University (MSU) College of Human Medicine, he is<br />

at the very beginning of a lifelong professional journey.<br />

Dues became interested in pursuing this demanding<br />

degree after working as a lab technician in one of VAI’s<br />

Parkinson’s disease research labs and volunteering as<br />

an undergraduate student on a neurology team at Le<br />

Bonheur Children's Hospital in Germantown, Tennessee.<br />

As a volunteer working alongside a team of physicians,<br />

he got to see firsthand the limits of therapeutic options<br />

available for epilepsy and other neurological disorders.<br />

He also developed a deeper understanding of the<br />

importance of biomedical research in the development<br />

of new therapies.<br />

“Volunteering at the children’s hospital made me reflect<br />

on the multitude of reasons people seek medical care,<br />

and how limited we really are regarding what we can<br />

offer them,” Dues said. “Because of biomedical research,<br />

we know more than ever about human diseases,<br />

but there are still a lot of barriers between what we<br />

understand scientifically and how that knowledge can be<br />

translated into effective therapies for patients.”<br />

Working as a physician–scientist will give Dues the<br />

opportunity to cross the many barriers that separate the<br />

lab from the clinic and focus on providing the best care<br />

possible for his patients and those who might benefit<br />

from his research.<br />

“If I am working as a physician and I find something<br />

interesting or difficult to treat, as a trained scientist, I<br />

can take what I’ve learned in the clinic back to the lab<br />

and study it further — and being able to do that is pretty<br />

rare,” Dues said. “And conversely, working as a scientist<br />

with direct access to the clinic, I can be the missing link<br />

between what is known now, what we might discover<br />

later and how these lab discoveries might impact a<br />

patient’s treatment in the future.”<br />

Uniquely positioned for translational research<br />

Started in 2010, the collaborative M.D./Ph.D. Dual<br />

Degree Program was designed to offer a path for<br />

students who wanted to work in two symbiotic but<br />

separate worlds. Students enrolled in the program work<br />

toward a medical degree at MSU’s College of Human<br />

Medicine while also pursuing a Ph.D. degree at VAIGS.<br />

The program integrates curriculum and hands-on lab<br />

and clinical training that is tailor-made for ambitious<br />

students like Dues who want to work in the lab and the<br />

clinic. According to Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg, president<br />

and dean of VAIGS, the program is a continuation of the<br />

Institute’s commitment to science education that has a<br />

lasting and profound impact on human health and<br />

well-being.<br />

“Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s mission is to<br />

train scientists who are working on medically relevant<br />

questions that might one day impact patient care,”<br />

Triezenberg said. “Physician–scientists are uniquely<br />

positioned for translational research because they have<br />

the opportunity to see problems in the clinic firsthand<br />

that need to be solved, and then they can use their skills<br />

in the lab to develop new therapeutic solutions.”<br />

“Graduate students at the<br />

Institute are treated like<br />

budding professionals. It’s<br />

exciting to be in a program<br />

where faculty have a real<br />

interest in seeing you become<br />

a physician–scientist.”<br />

Dylan Dues<br />

As medicine becomes more personalized and granular,<br />

Triezenberg sees physician–scientists playing a greater<br />

role in medicine.<br />

“I think we will see interest in this program increase in<br />

the next few years,” Triezenberg said. “National studies<br />

have highlighted the importance of people who can<br />

function comfortably in two worlds and can find ways<br />

to make connections between them in order to benefit<br />

patient care.”<br />

The Institute’s mission to develop improved treatments<br />

22 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>


for patients, focus on basic as well as translational<br />

research and culture of collaboration gives Dues a<br />

learning experience that is tailor-made for his passion.<br />

“Graduate students at the Institute are treated like<br />

budding professionals. It’s exciting to be in a program<br />

where faculty have a real interest in seeing you become<br />

a physician–scientist,” Dues said. “People tell me I’m<br />

crazy all the time for taking so much on, but I’ve never<br />

been one to shy away from a difficult problem or an<br />

insurmountable task. I’m where I need to be.”<br />


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 23

Van Andel Education Institute, NASA & the Girl Scouts Team Up to Take Girls to the Stars!<br />

The sky was not the limit for Girl Scouts who attended<br />

Van Andel Education Institute’s (VAEI) inaugural Journey<br />

Through a Life in Space camp in early June <strong>2017</strong>. Young<br />

space explorers participated in hands-on activities, learning<br />

about space travel and rocket science, navigating the solar<br />

system and discovering how life in space might affect the<br />

human body. The camp was a partnership between VAEI,<br />

NASA and the Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore,<br />

and featured a curriculum developed by NASA. Campers<br />

also met with a NASA engineer and a Van Andel Research<br />

Institute scientist to learn about future career opportunities<br />

in science-related fields.<br />

“It’s wonderful to see so many young women passionate<br />

about science — working together collaborating, and<br />

24 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong><br />

learning what it means to be a scientist working for NASA<br />

or Van Andel Research Institute,” said Lisa Neeb, VAEI<br />

instructional specialist. “The camp experience we were able<br />

to give these girls was the result of different organizations<br />

coming together to create a learning experience unlike<br />

anything we’ve ever done before. Collaborating with wellknown<br />

organizations like NASA and the Girl Scouts enabled<br />

us to create a very special program.”<br />

VAEI’s summer space camp is one of the many ways the<br />

Institute partners with local and national organizations<br />

to bring new and exciting science education programs<br />

to students.<br />

“It’s really encouraging to see that organizations are<br />


interested in working with Van Andel Education Institute<br />

to make science education more engaging and impactful,”<br />

Neeb said. “I know we will continue to look for more<br />

ways to work with national science organizations,<br />

community groups, nonprofits, museums and zoos in<br />

order to continue to provide the very best educational<br />

opportunities we can for our students. It’s exciting to<br />

think of what we can do next.”<br />

In <strong>2017</strong>, Van Andel Education Institute<br />

worked directly with 925 students and<br />

more than 1,300 teachers.<br />

Since NexGen Inquiry ® was launched in<br />

April 2015, more than 4,000 teachers<br />

have signed up to use it, and more<br />

than 114,000 student assignments<br />

have been issued through this<br />

groundbreaking platform.

Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation Provides<br />

Students with a Summer of Discovery<br />



Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) hosted an<br />

inaugural summer camp program for 60 enthusiastic<br />

young students across West Michigan in July <strong>2017</strong>.<br />

Fourth- through seventh-grade students from a variety<br />

of backgrounds were offered a unique opportunity<br />

to experience the joy of discovery and embrace their<br />

curiosity, creativity and critical thinking skills through the<br />

program. Students learned how to develop supportive<br />

learning relationships and expand their understanding of<br />

basic scientific principles, all while building friendships and<br />

having fun.<br />

“Van Andel Education Institute<br />

encourages students to be<br />

passionate, engaged learners<br />

and helps them explore<br />

the incredible world<br />

of scientific discovery.”<br />

Bea Aldrink Idema<br />

The camp was made possible through a generous gift from<br />

the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation, a West Michigan–based<br />

nonprofit organization that has long supported VAEI’s<br />

commitment to biomedical research and science education.<br />

While growing up in a farming family in Allendale, Michigan,<br />

Bea developed a zest for life, people and helping others<br />

in her community. Supporting educational initiatives has<br />

long been a passion for Bea and her extended family —<br />

in addition to investing in the Institute, the Bea Aldrink<br />

Idema Foundation has contributed generously to academic<br />

institutions throughout Grand Rapids.<br />

“Van Andel Education Institute encourages students to<br />

be passionate, engaged learners and helps them explore<br />

the incredible world of scientific discovery,” Bea said. “Our<br />

Foundation is proud to support the Institute’s programs<br />

that are inspiring students and illuminating the beauty and<br />

complexity of the natural world.”<br />

Because of the Foundation’s generosity, VAEI is able to<br />

extend the summer camp programming into 2018 and<br />

expand the curriculum to include second- through 12thgrade<br />

students. The Institute will also use these funds to<br />

partner with organizations such as NASA, the Girl Scouts<br />

of America, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the<br />

Grand Rapids Public Museum to design summer camps<br />

that cover a variety of scientific subjects. Terra Tarango,<br />

VAEI director and education officer, is grateful to partner<br />

with the Foundation to create a unique program that takes<br />

learning out of textbooks and places it in an active, hands-on<br />

educational environment.<br />

“We are so appreciative of the Bea Aldrink Idema<br />

Foundation’s generosity and support for our mission,”<br />

Tarango said. “The Foundation’s gift has enabled us<br />

to broaden the number of students we serve and to<br />

enhance the experience for all campers. With professional<br />

equipment, creative curriculum and hands-on learning<br />

experiences, our campers will gain not only the science<br />

content they learn at camp but also treasured memories<br />

and a lifelong passion for learning!”<br />


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 25

Van Andel Institute’s donors and philanthropic partners are connected by<br />

a shared sense of commitment to the Institute’s mission. Their creativity,<br />

passion and dedication have helped the Institute become a thriving center<br />

for innovative biomedical research and science education.<br />

26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 27

Profiles in Hope — Van Andel Institute Donors Turn Love & Loss into Action<br />

Blake Crabb<br />

Blake Crabb<br />

always looks for an<br />

opportunity to tell<br />

people about Purple<br />

Community and<br />

Van Andel Institute<br />

(VAI). As a past<br />

co-chair of the Purple<br />

Community Cabinet<br />

and a current member<br />

of the Institute’s JBoard<br />

Ambassadors, Crabb<br />

has given presentations, met with community members and<br />

worked hard to help organize successful fundraising events.<br />

For Crabb, the work is all deeply personal.<br />

“I discovered Purple Community within a month of my mom<br />

being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” Crabb said. “One<br />

of the first things I asked the Purple Community team was<br />

if VAI researches pancreatic cancer, and they said, ‘We<br />

absolutely do, and by the way, would you like to meet one of<br />

our scientists?’”<br />

Crabb’s mother fought the disease aggressively, but after<br />

two years of treatment, the cancer spread to her liver<br />

and even further, to her lymph nodes. Blake and his mom<br />

decided to take her off treatment to preserve her quality<br />

of life. He stayed by her side until the very end.<br />

“It was about 7:15 in the morning when she passed,”<br />

Crabb said. “I walked in to her room just after she took<br />

her last breath.”<br />

When Crabb’s mother passed away, it completely changed<br />

his perspective on what was important in life. He began<br />

searching for ways to cultivate hope.<br />

28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong><br />

“After you are somebody’s main caregiver, you end up with<br />

an amazing amount of time, which makes you shift your<br />

sense of purpose,” Crabb said. “It made me look for ways<br />

to be hopeful, and I’ve come to understand that if you’re<br />

looking for hope, you definitely have to take action. You<br />

have to be able to look at a challenge and ask yourself,<br />

‘What can I do?’”<br />

Over the past several years, Crabb has worked with Purple<br />

Community team members and volunteers, organizing<br />

and inspiring others and leveraging his skills to support<br />

research into pancreatic cancer.<br />

“Volunteering your time is not about some massive<br />

undertaking — it’s really as simple as getting involved on<br />

the ground level and figuring out what motivates you,”<br />

Crabb said. “When you spread positive energy around and<br />

bring people together, it’s more likely you are going to end<br />

up with something that results not just in hope but maybe<br />

one day, a cure.” Watch Blake's story at bit.ly/BlakeCrabb.<br />

Pat Ringnalda<br />

There’s an<br />

unmistakable joyful<br />

energy at the Bee<br />

Brave 5K — an event<br />

Pat Ringnalda and<br />

her friends and family<br />

have organized for<br />

more than a decade.<br />

Ringnalda is a<br />

passionate advocate<br />

for breast cancer<br />

research, and her<br />

contagious positivity makes the Bee Brave 5K not only a<br />

successful fundraiser but also a way for people to come<br />

together in the spirit of hope.<br />

Since partnering with Van Andel Institute’s Purple<br />

Community in 2016, the event has raised nearly $140,000<br />

to benefit breast cancer research at the Institute. Ringnalda<br />

is encouraged by the outpouring of support she’s received<br />

for Bee Brave and its mission of hope.<br />

“When I think back to when I first started the event and was<br />

recruiting volunteers, friends and family members to help,<br />

I thought it would be temporary, but 10 years later, we are<br />

still here, working together to make this such a wonderful<br />

event,” Ringnalda said.<br />

Hosting an event for 10 years takes a great deal of effort,<br />

but when the demands weigh on her, Ringnalda often<br />

reflects on the people she’s had the opportunity to meet<br />

who are in the toughest fight of their lives.<br />

“One of my first event sponsors was a women’s exercise<br />

business in West Michigan,” Ringnalda said. ”When I<br />

would visit, I would see this woman named Lupita on the<br />

treadmill, and I could see she was battling cancer and trying<br />

to get healthy. She came to our first event with her whole<br />

family — and then in less than a year, she passed away.<br />

Stories like that remind me that our efforts are important,<br />

and we need to keep making a difference for everyone<br />

fighting cancer.”<br />

Bee Brave’s partnership with Purple Community has helped<br />

Ringnalda grow her event and connect her to a network<br />

of like-minded supporters. It is a partnership that has<br />

helped build on her vision and grow her popular event into<br />

something extraordinary.<br />

“If you’re thinking about doing an event, my answer is …<br />

stop thinking and do it now,” Ringnalda said. “Working with<br />

Purple Community connects your passion to an incredible<br />

group of people who are there to support you and help

you give back for a cause you care deeply about.”<br />

Watch Pat's story at bit.ly/PatRingnalda.<br />

Chelsea Westra<br />

Chelsea Westra never<br />

thought she would<br />

be organizing golf<br />

outings or leading a<br />

team of volunteers,<br />

but for more than a<br />

year, she has helped<br />

run Eagles for Eric,<br />

a West Michigan–<br />

based fundraising<br />

committee. Together<br />

with Purple<br />

Community, Westra has helped raised thousands of dollars<br />

to benefit osteosarcoma research. Named after her late<br />

husband, Eric, the committee is a tribute to the life they<br />

shared together and to Westra’s need to help others who<br />

have been affected by cancer.<br />

Westra’s first child, Arie, had just been born when Eric<br />

underwent surgery due to recurrent osteosarcoma, a<br />

rare bone cancer. The couple was devastated by the<br />

unexpected news, but they fought through it and sought<br />

out the best treatment possible. Four months later, a<br />

full-body bone scan confirmed that tumors had spread<br />

throughout his body.<br />

“Eric needed everything I had to help him,” Westra said.<br />

“Our parents and siblings really stepped up. My son, Arie,<br />

was essentially raised by my sister-in-law during the last<br />

few months Eric was sick — we missed the first time he<br />

crawled, and we missed a lot of those little milestones.”<br />

Eric passed away from the disease in 2016, and it was<br />

the most difficult thing Westra could ever imagine.<br />

Being Eric’s caregiver for those three years gave her a<br />

newfound understanding of the importance of research<br />

in developing new treatments for devastating diseases<br />

like osteosarcoma.<br />

During Eric’s first surgery, he donated a portion of his<br />

tumor to Dr. Matthew Steensma’s lab at the Institute to be<br />

used for osteosarcoma research. Westra views this act of<br />

generosity as a fitting way to honor the life of the man she<br />

loved so dearly.<br />

“A great heartache, like I had with Eric, really gives you a<br />

heart for great causes. And Van Andel Institute is what’s<br />

in my heart because it keeps Eric’s memory alive. It still<br />

feels like we can do something good with it, and hopefully,<br />

one day, because of what they’re able to do with Eric’s<br />

tumor, it won’t be a terminal diagnosis; it will be a beatable<br />

diagnosis,” Westra said.<br />

Through Westra’s work with Purple Community, she plans<br />

to play an active role in the Institute’s work to develop lifesaving<br />

therapies for people battling cancer.<br />

“Hope looks different to everyone,“ Westra said. “For me,<br />

hope looks like working hard so that my son, Arie, can see<br />

that maybe his dad isn’t here, but look at this amazing thing<br />

that happened because of his life.” Watch Chelsea's story at<br />

bit.ly/ChelseaWestra.<br />

David Bronkema<br />

David Bronkema’s<br />

faith and family mean<br />

the world to<br />

him. When he was<br />

diagnosed with<br />

Parkinson’s disease at<br />

the young age of 42,<br />

his thoughts instantly<br />

went to God and his<br />

children.<br />

“The thing that flooded<br />

my mind when I was driving home after being diagnosed<br />

was that my kids need to understand that God is good, not<br />

just when things are going well … I want them to know he is<br />

good all the time,” Bronkema said.<br />


Bronkema’s strong Christian faith and need to do good in<br />

the world led him to become a dedicated supporter of<br />

Van Andel Institute’s Parkinson’s disease research, and<br />

he is optimistic that with donor support, the Institute’s<br />

scientists can help those diagnosed with this degenerative<br />

disease.<br />

“I’ll be honest and say I hope that there is a cure in my<br />

lifetime, so I try and live every day to the fullest, and never<br />

give up hope,” Bronkema said. “Just understanding all the<br />

great research taking place at the Institute should give<br />

anyone a real sense of hope that we are that much closer<br />

to a cure.”<br />

Bronkema is an ardent believer in the Institute’s ability<br />

to effect change and bring about new therapies for<br />

Parkinson’s, and he hopes more people will join him and<br />

support its mission.<br />

“If you want to change the way things are tomorrow, you<br />

have to get involved in what the Institute is doing today,”<br />

Bronkema said. “Whether it’s volunteering or donating<br />

through Purple Community, or giving a donation to benefit<br />

the Institute’s scientists, everyone can find a way to<br />

support the work happening here.”<br />

Facing the hardest battle of his life, Bronkema is<br />

encouraged by the Institute’s work and supported by the<br />

love of his family and his faith in God. “I have so much hope<br />

for what Van Andel Institute is doing, and because of that,<br />

I will never lose heart,” he said. Watch David's story at bit.ly/<br />

DavidBronkema.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 29

Winterfest & The Art of Fashion & Research<br />

30 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong><br />






A Conversation About Depression Hosted by Carol Van Andel &<br />

The Carol Van Andel Angel of Excellence Dinner & Awards Presentation<br />

EVENTS<br />





VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 31

Purple Community 5K & Around the World<br />







32 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>

Curiosity and Cocktails & Designs on a Cure<br />

EVENTS<br />





VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 33

VAI Golf Outing & Couture for a Cure<br />







34 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>

Hope on the Hill & A Conversation About Osteoporosis<br />

Hosted by Carol Van Andel<br />

EVENTS<br />






VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 35

A Perfect Day, an Unforgettable Memory<br />

Jens Bach loved to see his grandson, Jake, play football.<br />

On a warm September afternoon, Jens sat in his wheelchair<br />

with his nurse, Joyce, at his side watching as Jake played in<br />

the Hope College Purple Community game. It wasn’t easy<br />

to see every part of the game, but he knew that Jake was<br />

wearing a jersey that had Jens “Flex” Bach stitched on the<br />

back in his honor. He was at the very end of his long fight<br />

with cancer, but Jens wanted to be there to watch Jake play,<br />

one last time.<br />

“It was a perfect day,” said Mary VanderVeen, Jens’ daughter<br />

and Jake’s mom. “My dad loved watching Jake’s games,<br />

and as the football season approached, it became clear<br />

that we didn’t have much time left with him, so the Purple<br />

Community game became an important event for us.”<br />

Mary and her husband, Scott, along with family and friends,<br />

came from all across the country to be there with Jens at<br />

the game.<br />

“My dad passed away almost one week after the Purple<br />

Community game. That game has come to mean so<br />

much to us as a family,” Mary said. “He was such a kind,<br />

gentle and strong man who loved his family, and having<br />

that moment with him was really something we will<br />

never forget.”<br />

Purple Community events do more than raise funds for<br />

research; they bring people together through a shared<br />

experience, and often, they create unforgettable memories.<br />

Every jersey has a name<br />

When Scott VanderVeen looked out in the stands during<br />

the game, he noticed that Jens and his family were among<br />



hundreds of other people with their own stories of life,<br />

loss and love.<br />

“What is so great and moving about Purple Community<br />

games is that everyone there has a special relationship to<br />

the cause, and even though our family was there in a big<br />

group for Jens, it was so wonderful to see other families<br />

who were there supporting their loved ones,” Scott said.<br />

“Every player had a name on the back of their jersey, and<br />

I knew they were playing for someone who was important<br />

to them — someone they loved or maybe someone they<br />

lost in the fight against cancer.”<br />

Caroline Dykstra, assistant athletic director at Hope<br />

College, has seen firsthand how important Purple<br />

Community games are to families whose lives have<br />

been affected by cancer. For her and the athletes she<br />

works with, the events are a time of great emotion and<br />

great purpose.<br />

“Everyone who attends our games has a story about<br />

someone who has fought a battle with cancer,” Dykstra<br />

said. “Our partnership with Purple Community gives us<br />

the chance to honor people like Jens, give back to our<br />

community in a meaningful way and help raise funds for<br />

a cause we are incredibly passionate about.”<br />

When the game ended on that late-summer afternoon,<br />

and Jake said goodbye to his teammates and left the field,<br />

he walked toward his family and his grandfather Jens<br />

sitting in his wheelchair. Jens never had the chance to play<br />

football as a young man, but one week before he passed<br />

away, surrounded by his friends and family, Jake handed<br />

his grandfather the jersey he wore during the game. It<br />

was the least he could do for his biggest fan.<br />

36 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>


Purple Community<br />

Purple Community, Van Andel Institute’s grassroots<br />

fundraising and awareness program,<br />

connects individuals, schools, teams and<br />

businesses to the resources needed to support<br />

groundbreaking cancer and Parkinson’s disease<br />

research. In <strong>2017</strong>, Purple Community members<br />

hosted more than 150 events throughout<br />

Michigan that raised more than $622,000.<br />

Purple Community events bring people from<br />

every walk of life together to celebrate the power<br />

of family, friendship and community action. They<br />

also give people the chance to honor those<br />

fighting disease and pay tribute to those who have<br />

lost their fight against cancer and Parkinson’s.<br />

Every event is a collection of stories — people<br />

coming together to support one another and help<br />

make the world a better, healthier place.<br />





VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 37

Sources of Funding<br />

Sources of Funding for Research & Education<br />

7%<br />

Private philanthropy<br />

19%<br />

Grants and contract<br />

revenue (direct)<br />

67%<br />

Endowment income<br />

7%<br />

Other<br />

Sources of Funding for Operating & Overhead Expenses<br />

76%<br />

Endowment income<br />

24%<br />

Grants and contract<br />

revenue<br />

38 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>

Society of Hope<br />

The Society of Hope recognizes individuals<br />

and couples who have notified us that they<br />

will include Van Andel Institute in their will<br />

or other deferred giving plan. Through our<br />

acknowledgment of and gratitude to these<br />

exceptional people, we hope that their<br />

generosity will inspire others.<br />


Vivian G. Anderson<br />

Stanley & Blanche Ash<br />

Kevin & Michelle Bassett<br />

Philip & Shirley Battershall<br />

John & Nancy Batts<br />

Fred & Julie Bogaert<br />

Bill & Marilyn Crawford<br />

Barbara Erhards<br />

J. Scott Grill<br />

Joan Hammersmith<br />

Arthur Joseph Jabury<br />

Ms. Maryanna Johnson<br />

Renee Kuipers<br />

Mr. & Mrs. Timothy Long<br />

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols<br />

LG & Helen Myers<br />

Jone E. Phillips<br />

Ronald Rutkowski<br />

Alan R. Ryan<br />

George Sietsema<br />

Eva Sonneville<br />

Fred L. Tape<br />

Hylda & Alvin Tuuk<br />

John E. VanFossen<br />

In Memoriam — Donald W. Maine<br />

With great sadness, we said farewell to Don Maine in<br />

February 2018. A member of the Van Andel Education<br />

Institute Board of Trustees and chair of the Finance and<br />

Compensation committees for more than 11 years, Don<br />

was a devoted friend and an enthusiastic champion of the<br />

Institute from our beginning.<br />

Don was a fixture on the educational scene in West<br />

Michigan. He was fascinated with entrepreneurial thinking,<br />

and his vision guided Davenport University from a small<br />

college to a fully accredited university. As the former<br />

president and chancellor, he was beloved at Davenport<br />

and throughout our community. A mentor to many, Don<br />

made people feel special in everything he did. He gave<br />

freely of his time and expertise, serving on multiple boards<br />

and receiving numerous accolades along the way.<br />

Don was a great friend personally and of the Institute. He<br />

will be missed dearly.<br />

- David Van Andel<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 39

Signature Special Event Sponsors<br />

We are grateful to have extraordinarily dedicated signature event sponsors.<br />

Thank you for partnering with us and supporting our mission throughout the year.<br />

ADAC Automotive<br />

Adamy Valuation<br />

Ag Business Solutions<br />

Alliance Beverage<br />

Amway<br />

Amway Grand Plaza<br />

AON<br />

Aquinas College<br />

Artistry<br />

ASI Interiors<br />

Atomic Object<br />

Barnes & Thornburg, LLP<br />

B.D.'s BBQ<br />

Belwith Products<br />

Matthew & Shari Berger<br />

BHS Insurance<br />

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi<br />

Dave & Jill Bielema<br />

Bluewater Technologies<br />

Charles & Christine Boelkins<br />

Buist Electric<br />

Calamos<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Caminiti Associates Inc.<br />

Scott & Heidi Campbell<br />

Cancer & Hematology Centers<br />

of Western Michigan<br />

Cascade Rentals<br />

Cheeky Strut<br />

Chemical Bank<br />

The Chop House<br />

CityFlatsHotel<br />

Coldwell Banker<br />

Colliers International<br />

Consumers Credit Union<br />

Cornerstone University<br />

Crowe Horwath, LLP<br />

Crystal Clean Auto Detailing<br />

Cumulus Media, Inc.<br />

Tom & Tracy Curran<br />

Currie Foundation<br />

Custer, Inc.<br />

CWD Real Estate Investment<br />

Cygnus 27<br />

Czech Asset Management, L.P.<br />

Davenport University<br />

David & Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation<br />

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh<br />

The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family<br />

Foundation<br />

Discovery Financial, LLC<br />

Divani<br />

DK Security<br />

The Douglas & Maria DeVos<br />

Foundation<br />

Eastbrook Homes<br />

Eenhoorn, LLC<br />

Eileen DeVries Family<br />

Foundation<br />

Ellis Parking<br />

Erhardt Construction<br />

Eurest<br />

Extend Your Reach<br />

Ferris Coffee & Nut Co.<br />

Fifth Third Private Bank<br />

First & Main Management<br />

First National Bank<br />

John & Melynda Folkert<br />

FOODesign by Chef Brech<br />

Dan & Lou Ann Gaydou<br />

Goldman Sachs<br />

Good<br />

Grand Rapids Christian Schools<br />

Grand Rapids YMCA<br />

Grand Valley State University<br />

Grand Ventures<br />

Gravity Taphouse Grille<br />

Greenridge Realty<br />

Martin & Peggy Greydanus<br />

Dr. Jana Hall<br />

Fred L. Hansen<br />

Harvey Automotive<br />

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate<br />

Honigman<br />

Hope College<br />

Horwood Marcus & Berk<br />

Chartered<br />

Howard Miller<br />

Huizenga Group<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

Melissa & Ralph Iannelli<br />

Ice Sculptures Ltd.<br />

The I.C.N. Foundation<br />

iHeartMedia, Inc.<br />

Independent Bank<br />

Iron<br />

i understand<br />

Jandernoa Foundation<br />

Jeffery Roberts Design<br />

John Hancock Retirement Plan<br />

Services, LLC<br />

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones<br />

Jim & Ginger Jurries<br />

JW Marriott Grand Rapids<br />

Keeler<br />

John & Nancy Kennedy<br />

Kerkstra Precast<br />

Kinney Family<br />

Kitchen 67<br />

Al & Robin Koop<br />

Lake Michigan Credit Union<br />

Ray & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Leigh's<br />

Leo's<br />

Lighthouse Group<br />

Gary & Vicky Ludema<br />

Macatawa Bank<br />

Marsha Veenstra State Farm<br />

Insurance<br />

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation<br />

Hospital<br />

McAlvey Merchant & Associates<br />

McDonnell Investment<br />

Management, LLC<br />

McShane & Bowie, P.L.C.<br />

Media 3 Design<br />

Meijer<br />

Mercy Health<br />

Metro Health<br />

Michigan State University -<br />

College of Human Medicine<br />

Mika Meyers, PLC<br />

Mike Bell, Inc. & Westwater<br />

Patterson<br />

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols<br />

Mitten CNC<br />

MLive Media Group/The Grand<br />

Rapids Press<br />

Modern Day Events & Floral<br />

Dave & Kim Moorhead<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Norris, Perné & French, LLP<br />

Investment Counsel<br />

Tim & Karen O'Donovan<br />

Orthopaedic Associates of<br />

Michigan<br />

Osteria Rossa<br />

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.<br />

Parkinson's Association of<br />

West Michigan<br />

Leland & Alexandra Perez<br />

Peter C. & Emajean Cook<br />

Foundation<br />

Pine Rest Christian Mental<br />

Health Services<br />

Pioneer Construction<br />

Pitsch Companies<br />

Preusser Jewelers<br />

Priority Health<br />

Radius Health, Inc.<br />

Reds at Thousand Oaks<br />

Regal Investment Advisors, LLC<br />

The Richard & Helen DeVos<br />

Foundation<br />

Tom & Brenda Rinks<br />

Rocket Science Creative<br />

Rockford Construction<br />

RoMan Manufacturing<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Rowerdink, Inc.<br />

San Chez Bistro<br />

Scott & Jan Spoelhof Foundation<br />

Secchia Family Foundation<br />

SemelSnow Interior Design, Inc.<br />

The Sharpe Collection<br />

Nick & Karen Sherman<br />

six.one.six<br />

Slows Bar BQ<br />

Sobie Meats, LLC<br />

Soils & Structures<br />

Spectrum Health<br />

Square 1 Bank, a division of<br />

Pacific Western Bank<br />

Rob & Susan Stafford<br />

Standard Supply & Lumber Co.<br />

Steelcase<br />

Stephen Klotz Family Foundation<br />

The Steve & Amy Van Andel<br />

Foundation<br />

Thomas & Mary Stuit<br />

Taconic Charitable Foundation<br />

Thomas S. Fox Family<br />

Todd Wenzel Buick GMC<br />

Townsquare Media (Channel<br />

95.7, 100.5 The River<br />

& WFGR 98.7)<br />

Truscott Rossman<br />

U.S. Bank<br />

USA Financial<br />

Sharon Van Dellen<br />

Van Eerden Foodservice<br />

Company<br />

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

The Veldheer, Long, Mackay<br />

& Bernecker Group of<br />

Merrill Lynch<br />

Russ & Chris Visner<br />

Waddell & Reed, Inc.<br />

Warner Norcross & Judd, LLP<br />

Watson Smith, Inc.<br />

Wells Fargo Bank<br />

West Michigan Woman<br />

Wheelhouse<br />

Dr. Bart & Wendy Williams<br />

Williams Kitchen & Bath<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Bob & Karen Wiltz<br />

Wolverine Worldwide<br />

Women's Lifestyle Magazine<br />

Jim & Jane Zwiers<br />

40 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>

Institute Leadership Team<br />


“In Grand Rapids, we are<br />

discovering new ways to<br />

work together and build a<br />

critical mass of talent in the<br />

region. At the same time,<br />

we’re reaching out across<br />

the world, expanding<br />

collaborations with an<br />

impressive list of leading<br />

organizations, scientists<br />

and physicians.”<br />

David Van Andel<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO<br />

David Van Andel is Chairman and CEO of Van Andel<br />

Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also an<br />

entrepreneur involved in several other business interests<br />

in the natural and life science products industries.<br />

The son of Jay Van Andel, founder of Van Andel Institute<br />

and co-founder of Amway Corporation, David is currently<br />

a member of Amway’s Board of Directors and serves on<br />

its Executive, Governance and Audit committees. Before<br />

leading Van Andel Institute, he had held various positions<br />

at Amway since 1977, including chief operating officer of<br />

Amway’s Pyxis Innovations Business Unit, and was senior<br />

vice president–Americas and Europe, overseeing Amway<br />

business activities in North America and 22 European and<br />

11 Latin American affiliates.<br />

Jerry Callahan, Ph.D., M.B.A.<br />

Vice President, Innovation & Collaboration Officer<br />

Jana Hall, Ph.D., M.B.A.<br />

Chief Operations Officer<br />

Peter Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc.<br />

Chief Scientific Officer,<br />

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

Timothy Myers<br />

Vice President & Chief Financial Officer<br />

Terra Tarango<br />

Director & Education Officer,<br />

Van Andel Education Institute<br />

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D.<br />

President & Dean,<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

Linda Zarzecki<br />

Vice President of Human Resources<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 41

Board & Council Members<br />

Van Andel Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

John Kennedy<br />

President & Chief Executive Officer, Autocam Medical<br />

Mark Meijer<br />

President, Life E.M.S. Ambulance<br />

Van Andel Research Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Tom R. DeMeester, M.D.<br />

Professor & Chairman Emeritus, Department<br />

of Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of<br />

Southern California<br />

James B. Fahner, M.D.<br />

Chief of Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos<br />

Children’s Hospital<br />



42 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong><br />

Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D.<br />

Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology;<br />

Director, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer<br />

Center; Director, Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory,<br />

University of Chicago<br />

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.<br />

Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Founding Research Director,<br />

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

Ralph Weichselbaum, M.D.<br />

Chairman, Department of Radiation; Head, Ludwig Center<br />

for Metastasis Research, University of Chicago<br />

Max S. Wicha, M.D.<br />

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,<br />

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,<br />

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />




Van Andel Education Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

James E. Bultman, Ed.D.<br />

Former President, Hope College<br />

Donald W. Maine<br />

Former President, Davenport University<br />

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.<br />

President, Aquinas College<br />

Gordon L. Van Harn, Ph.D.<br />

Emeritus Provost & Professor of Biology, Calvin College

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

Board of Scientific Advisors<br />

Michael Brown, M.D.<br />

(Chair) Paul J. Thomas Professor of Genetics & Director<br />

of the Jonsson Center of Molecular Genetics, University of<br />

Texas Southwestern Medical Center<br />

Richard Axel, M.D.<br />

Professor of Neurosciences, Columbia University<br />

Joseph L. Goldstein, M.D.<br />

Chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics,<br />

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center<br />

Tony Hunter, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory; American<br />

Cancer Society Professor; Renato Dulbecco Chair; Director,<br />

Salk Institute Cancer Center<br />

Philip A. Sharp, Ph.D.<br />

Professor of Biology & Head of the Cancer Center,<br />

Massachusetts Institute of Technology<br />

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

External Scientific Advisory Board<br />

Tony Hunter, Ph.D.<br />

(Chair) Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory;<br />

American Cancer Society Professor; Renato Dulbecco<br />

Chair; Director, Salk Institute Cancer Center<br />

Marie-Francois Chesselet, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Charles H. Markham Professor of Neurology; Distinguished<br />

Professor of Neurology and of Neurobiology, Reed<br />

Neurological Research Center<br />

Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs; Dean of Medicine,<br />

University of California Irvine<br />

Theresa Guise, M.D.<br />

Professor of Medicine; Jerry W. & Peg S. Throgmartin<br />

Professor of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Division<br />

of Endocrinology, Indiana University<br />

Kristian Helin, Ph.D.<br />

Director, Biotech Research & Innovation Centre<br />

(BRIC); Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University<br />

of Copenhagen<br />

Sharon Y.R. Dent, Ph.D.<br />

Professor and Chair, Department of Epigenetics and<br />

Molecular Carcinogenesis; Director, Science Part;<br />

Director, Center for Cancer Epigenetics, MD Anderson<br />

Cancer Center<br />

Max S. Wicha, M.D.<br />

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,<br />

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,<br />

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

Van Andel Education Institute<br />

Advisory Council<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Nancy Ayres<br />

Former General Manager, Flexco<br />

Stephen Best<br />

Education Consultant, Michigan Department of Education<br />

James Boelkins, Ph.D.<br />

Former Provost, Hope College<br />


Joseph Krajcik, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Department of Teacher Education at Michigan<br />

State University<br />

Carol Van Andel, B.A.<br />

Executive Director, David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Family Foundation<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

Board of Directors<br />

James Fahner, M.D.<br />

Chief of Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s<br />

Hospital<br />

Michael J. Imperiale, Ph.D.<br />

Director, Doctoral Program in Cancer Biology; Associate<br />

Chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology,<br />

University of Michigan<br />

Peter Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc.<br />

Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Research Institute<br />

Pamela Kidd, M.D.<br />

Hematopathologist & Medical Director of the Hematology<br />

& Flow Cytometry Laboratories, Spectrum Health & Helen<br />

DeVos Children’s Hospital<br />

Gordon Van Harn, Ph.D.<br />

Emeritus Provost & Professor of Biology, Calvin College<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 43

Board & Council Members (continued)<br />

Van Andel Institute Board of Governors<br />


Cynthia Afendoulis<br />

Martin & Sue Allen<br />

Kurt Arvidson<br />

Tony & Kathleen Asselta<br />

James & Shirley Balk<br />

Jeffrey & Stephanie Battershall<br />

Stacie Behler<br />

Gregory & Rajene Betz<br />

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi<br />

David & Jill Bielema<br />

Chuck & Christine Boelkins<br />

Carrie Boer<br />

Patrick Brady<br />

Charles & Pam Brickey<br />

Drs. Patrik & Lena Brundin<br />

James & Martha Bultman<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Scott & Heidi Campbell<br />

John & Marie Canepa<br />

Matthew Cook<br />

Sam & Janene Cummings<br />

Dave & Karen Custer<br />

Stephen Czech<br />

Mark & Mary Jane de Waal<br />

Jerry & Karen DeBlaay<br />

Thomas DeJong<br />

Robert DeVilbiss<br />

Doug & Maria DeVos<br />

Richard DeVos<br />

John Dykema & Michele<br />

Maly-Dykema<br />

David Eisler<br />

Michael & Lynette Ellis<br />

Tim Emmitt<br />

Jim & Gail Fahner<br />

John & Melynda Folkert<br />

David & Judy Frey<br />

Dan & Lou Ann Gaydou<br />

Gary & Pam Granger<br />

Martin & Margaret Greydanus<br />

Jefra Groendyk<br />

Ronald Haan<br />

Dr. Thomas J. Haas<br />

James & Kathy Hackett<br />

Dr. Jana Hall<br />

David & Joyce Hecht<br />

Paul & Rosemary Heule<br />

John & Gwen Hibbard<br />

Bradley & Liz Hilton<br />

Dirk Hoffius<br />

Robert Hooker<br />

J.C. Huizenga & Dr. Tammy L.<br />

Born-Huizenga<br />

Allen & Helen Hunting<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

Douglas Hutchings<br />

Jose & Sue Infante<br />

Earle & Kyle Irwin<br />

Mike & Sue Jandernoa<br />

Lynne Jarman-Johnson<br />

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones<br />

John & Deb Kailunas<br />

David & Nancy Kammeraad<br />

John & Nancy Kennedy<br />

James King & Stephanie Rubie<br />

Craig & Debra Kinney<br />

Stephen Klotz<br />

John Knapp<br />

Diane Kniowski<br />

Al & Robin Koop<br />

Raymond & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Ken Larm<br />

Wilbur & Sharon Lettinga<br />

Ray Loeschner<br />

Timothy & Kimberly Long<br />

Gary & Vicky Ludema<br />

Donald & Kathleen Maine<br />

Linda Martin<br />

Hendrik & Liesel Meijer<br />

Mark & Mary Beth Meijer<br />

Rusty & Jennifer Merchant<br />

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols<br />

Louis Moran<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Mark & Elizabeth Murray<br />

John & Gail Nowak<br />

Juan & Mary Olivarez<br />

Richard Pappas<br />

Donald & Ann Parfet<br />

Lewis Pitsch & Teresa<br />

Hendricks-Pitsch<br />

Pat Ringnalda<br />

Jeffery Roberts<br />

Eve Rogus<br />

Carol Rottman<br />

Doug Rottman<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Michael & Cindy Schaap<br />

Peter & Joan Secchia<br />

George & Linda Sharpe<br />

George & Missy Sharpe<br />

Budge & Marilyn Sherwood<br />

Brent & Diane Slay<br />

Kasie Smith<br />

John & Judy Spoelhof<br />

Robert & Susan Stafford<br />

Thomas & Mary Stuit<br />

Duke Suwyn<br />

Renee Tabben<br />

Dr. Steven & Laura Triezenberg<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Steve & Amy Van Andel<br />

Michael & Michelle Van Dyke<br />

Daniel & Ann Marie<br />

Van Eerden<br />

Gordon & Mary Van Harn<br />

Maria Van Til<br />

Drs. Gordon & Margaret<br />

Van Wylen<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

Stuart & Nelleke Vander Heide<br />

Allen & Nancy VanderLaan<br />

Michael VanGessel<br />

David & Beth VanPortfliet<br />

Chris & Dana Vinton<br />

Russell & Christine Visner<br />

Phillip & Kathleen Vogelsang<br />

Geoffrey & LeeAnne Widlak<br />

Scott & Rebecca Wierda<br />

James & Sue Williams<br />

Greg Willit & Meg M.<br />

Miller Willit<br />

James & Jane Zwiers<br />

Thank you, Board of Governors.<br />

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.<br />

Thank you for being our partners and contributing significantly to our success.<br />

44 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong>


JBoard Ambassadors<br />


Dr. Dorothy C. Armstrong<br />

Troy & Jill Austin<br />

Jon & Jennifer Baldini<br />

Chad Bassett<br />

Scott & Heidi Campbell<br />

Natalie Cleary<br />

Paige Cornetet<br />

Blake Crabb<br />

Aaron & Afton DeVos<br />

Samuel DeVries<br />

William Dion<br />

Lindsey Dubis<br />

Bo & Jennifer Fowler<br />

Kevin Gardenier<br />

Linsey Gleason<br />

David Granger<br />

Crissy Hughes<br />

Jason & Brandi Huyser<br />

Jack Iott<br />

Eric Jones<br />

Allison Keutgen<br />

Kevin & Kathryn Kileen<br />

Michael Kooistra<br />

Eric & Caitlin Kovalak<br />

Michael & Jaimie Lomonaco<br />

Erica Lonn<br />

Kimberly Loomis<br />

Geoff Ludema<br />

Matthew McDonald<br />

Peter & Kim Medema<br />

Kate Meyer<br />

Elizabeth Mines<br />

Phillip & Amy Mitchell<br />

Evan & Caitlin Mlynarek<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Christopher & Alyssa Nance<br />

Kyle & Kendra Osowski<br />

Matt Osterhaven<br />

Gregory & Allyson Paplawsky<br />

Erin Paquet<br />

Leland & Alexandra Perez<br />

Laurie Placinski<br />

Elizabeth Pohl<br />

Nikki Probst<br />

Jeff & Deidre Remtema<br />

Adam & Liz Rhoda<br />

Charlie & Tanya Rowerdink<br />

Lindsay & Scott Slagboom<br />

Jon & Allison Sleight<br />

Meriden Smucker<br />

Steve Steketee<br />

Tim Streit<br />

Paul & Libby Stuit<br />

Charity Taatjes<br />

William Templin<br />

Elizabeth Terhorst<br />

Jane Tomaszewski<br />

Bob Tsironis<br />

Aaron & Hailey Van Andel<br />

Chris Van Andel<br />

Jesse Van Andel<br />

Kyle Van Andel<br />

Daniel VandenBosch<br />

David & Sarah Vanderveen<br />

Marc & Ashley Veenstra<br />

Alison & Bill Waske Sutter<br />

Amanda Whowell<br />

MeiLi Wieringa<br />

Charlie Wondergem<br />

Aaron & Amanda Wong<br />

Scott & Megan Zubrickas<br />

Thank you, JBoard members.<br />

As JBoard members, 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.<br />

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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2017</strong> | 45

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

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