2014 Winter Highlights of Hope

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winter 2014 van andel institute’s

Highlights of



Cardiovascular Research

Comes to Grand Rapids

pg 8

Discovery identifies novel

cancer treatment strategy

pg 10

Van Andel

Institute Graduate

School receives


pg 12



Introducing Dr. Peter A. Jones,

Director of Research and Chief Scientific Officer

Established by

Jay and Betty Van Andel

in 1996, Van Andel Institute

(VAI) is an independent

research and educational

organization based

in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Through biomedical research

and science education

Van Andel Institute is

committed to improving the

health and enhancing

the lives of current

and future generations.

Winter 2014 Van Andel Institute’s




Table of contents

Van Andel Research

Institute (VARI)

VAI’s research arm is dedicated to

studying the genetic, cellular and

molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s

and other diseases and working

to translate those findings into

effective therapies.

Van Andel Education

Institute (VAEI)

VAI’s education arm is dedicated to

strengthening science education and

preparing and motivating individuals

to pursue science-related professions

through the educational spectrum.

Purple Community—100% Hope®

is Van Andel Institute’s grassroots

initiative to empower supporters in

businesses, communities, schools

and other organizations to increase

awareness, celebrate survivors, honor

loved ones and raise funds.

Van Andel Institute Giving

Join our fight! Learn how you can

support Van Andel Institute by contacting

the Development Department at

development@vai.org or 616.234.5120.

On the Cover

Dr. Peter A. Jones was appointed

Van Andel Institute’s Director of

Research and Chief Scientific Officer in

December 2013. Dr. Jones joins VAI from

the University of Southern California.

Read the complete story on pages 4-7.

3 A Letter from David Van Andel

4 Van Andel Institute is Proud to Introduce

Dr. Peter A. Jones, Director of

Research and Chief Scientific Officer

8 Cutting-Edge Cardiovascular Research

Comes to Grand Rapids

10 Recent Discovery Identifies Novel Cancer

Treatment Strategy

11 New Hires Broaden Van Andel

Institute’s Center

Dr. George Vande Woude Receives

Prestigious Award in Biological


12 Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Receives Accreditation

14 Fourth Student Graduates from

Van Andel Institute Graduate School

15 Science Conference Draws Record Crowd

16 Students Exceed Five-Year, $100,000

Fundraising Goal

18 Fighting Cancer with Hockey

20 Couture for a Cure Event Photos

21 Hope on the Hill Event Photos

22 Van Andel Institute Breast Cancer

Luncheon Event Photos

Van Andel Institute National Initiative

New York Event Photos

23 Around the World Event Photos

25 Smart Cancer Research: Van Andel

Institute Receives National Media


26 Going to Bat for Breast Cancer

27 A Legacy of Caring

Board of Governors & J-Board Members

28 Upcoming Events

A Letter from

David Van Andel

Chairman & CEO, Van Andel Institute

A new year is filled with excitement, hope and the promise of new

beginnings. We set resolutions and goals, begin new routines and

seek to improve upon the previous year. I have never been more

enthusiastic for a new year thanks to the great strides in biomedical

research and science education happening at Van Andel Institute.

The efforts of the

passionate individuals

at Van Andel Institute

provide hope for

a new year; hope

to students for an

exciting future in the

sciences; and hope

to patients and

their loved ones that

improved treatments

are possible.

We are excited for the direction Dr. Peter Jones brings to Van Andel Institute as the

new Director of Research and Chief Scientific Officer. His work in epigenetics is a

valuable addition to the Institute and opens doors for new discoveries. We also

welcome Dr. Stefan Jovinge and our continued partnership with Spectrum Health.

The addition of Dr. Jones, Dr. Jovinge and others to Van Andel Research Institute’s

staff helps us expand our ability to research disease from different approaches

and disciplines.

Van Andel Institute researchers made key discoveries in cancer and neurodegenerative

diseases in 2013. A novel cancer treatment strategy that can slow tumor growth while

protecting normal tissue was recently featured on the cover of Cancer Research, and

advances took place in the fight against pancreatic and lung cancer, glioblastoma

and lymphoma, to name a few. Researchers are also developing a new “anti-diabetic

drug” that may be able to slow disease progression and prevent movement disorders

in Parkinson’s disease patients.

The scientists of the future are receiving an innovative education at Van Andel

Education Institute. This past year, Van Andel Institute Graduate School received

accreditation from the Higher Learning Council for its unique Ph.D. program and

celebrated the commencement of its latest graduate. Van Andel Education Institute’s

inquiry-based curriculum was integrated in 17 school districts and continues to be a

model for education reform.

The efforts of the passionate individuals at Van Andel Institute provide hope for a

new year; hope to students for an exciting future in the sciences; and hope to patients

and their loved ones that improved treatments are possible. Your support enables

us to continue our work and encourages us every day. Thank you for your continued

partnership in our mission.

Warm regards,

David Van Andel

Chairman & CEO




A Dynamic



Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014


Dr. Peter A. Jones was recently appointed

Van Andel Institute’s Director of Research

and Chief Scientific Officer. Jones, an

internationally renowned researcher with more

than 40 year’s experience, has held numerous

roles in the fields of research and academia.

Introducing Van Andel

Institute Director of Research

and Chief Scientific Officer,

Dr. Peter A. Jones

Dr. Peter A. Jones was appointed Van Andel Institute’s Director of Research and

Chief Scientific Officer in December 2013. Dr. Jones, an internationally renowned

researcher with more than 40 years’ experience, has held numerous leadership

roles in research and academia.

Jones’ visionary concepts regarding basic and

translational research follow in the footsteps

of founding Research Director, Dr. George

Vande Woude. While Dr. Vande Woude’s MET

oncogene discovery in the 1980s helped

set the stage for the future of translational

research and personalized medicine, Jones’

research brings to light a new and exciting

way of viewing cancer, human disease and

the dynamic nature of DNA. Jones will join Dr.

Patrik Brundin, Associate Director of Research,

to advance the mission of improving human

health through research in both cancer and

neurodegenerative disease.

A New Way of Seeing

Jones, a native of South Africa, launched his

career as a Ph.D. student studying Biochemistry

at the University of Rhodesia. The university

was an island of multiracial dynamics in a

country torn apart by segregation, United

Nations sanctions and civil war. Often isolating

and difficult, his time spent at the university

helped him understand the importance

of creativity and self-reliance in scientific

research. In the midst of his Ph.D. studies, Jones

received a letter of encouragement, regarding

a paper he had published, from a researcher

at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The curious

student took the opportunity to inquire about

postdoctoral opportunities at the hospital with

the understanding that his current situation

was not conducive to furthering his research.

His inquiry paid off, and in 1973 Jones moved

to Los Angeles with his wife Veronica and their

five-month-old baby to work alongside the

author of the letter, Dr. Bill Benedict.

While working at Children’s Hospital Los

Angeles, researching various aspects of

chemotherapeutic drugs, Jones made a

discovery that would be the turning point

in his career. The postdoc and his team

were treating a mouse embryo cell line

with a series of drugs, keeping the cells

as monolayers to determine if they were

capable of converting into multiple foci

of cancer cells. During a routine Monday

morning, Jones was changing media in petri

dishes when he discovered what he thought

was a large mold growing in a dish that had

been exposed to a newly discovered drug

called 5-azacytidine (5azaC). To his surprise,

a significant grouping of cells was visible in

the dish, and upon further observation, Jones

concluded that the cells’ phenotype had been

changed from something non-descript into

cells that resembled muscle. The postdoc had

inadvertently discovered a drug capable of

‘reprogramming’ a cell’s destiny. Although this

discovery was significant, Jones was unsure

of how the cells had been reprogrammed.

After accepting a position at the Keck School

of Medicine at the University of Southern

California in 1977, he came to understand

the molecular mechanism for his discovery.

The secret was in the process of DNA

methylation, a process that stably alters gene

expression as cells divide and differentiate


“The reason we do this work is to impact people’s lives. When a patient comes up

to me and says, ‘you’re my hero’ because they are using a therapy I have been

working on, that is more exciting than anything that could happen. I want this

amazing gift the Van Andel family has given to make an impact on people’s lives.”

Dr. Peter A. Jones

Van Andel Institute’s Director of Research and Chief Scientific Officer

Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014

from embryonic stem cells into specific tissues. Dr.

Jones discovered that the drug 5azaC was a potent

inhibitor of methylation and was actually altering

the patterns of DNA in the cellular tissue. This

groundbreaking research discovery was the light

bulb moment that would transform Jones’ career

as a researcher and bring forth an exciting new

area in scientific research called epigenetics.

Epigenetics: The Turning Point

Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene

activity which are not caused by changes in the

DNA sequence. Enzymatic on/off switches that are

layered on top of the human genome control how

genes will be expressed. Epigenetic functions can

be manipulated by outside environmental factors,

such as chemicals or certain drugs. The study of

epigenetics is an exciting new ground for researchers

like Jones who see it playing an important role in the

treatment of cancer and other diseases.

“I think epigenetics is important because most of the

research focus until now has been on the genetics

of cancer and disease. In the last ten years it has

been clear that epigenetics plays a very important

role in the development of human cancer,” Jones

said. “What that means is that genes that frequently

get mutated or broken so they don’t work might be

switched off by these epigenetic switches.”

These ‘switched off’ genes can often lead to

cancer, and Jones is interested in how they can be

manipulated and how once-damaged cells can be

epigenetically repaired.

“Epigenetics has a profound impact on cancer,

disease therapy and prevention because we now

understand that changes in genes that might cause

cancer can be reversed,” Jones said. “If you have

a mutation, it is difficult to reverse it in the cancer

cell, but you can switch on genes that have been

switched off, and that’s why I think epigenetics is

an important way to think about cancer and how

it’s going to be treated.”

A Center of Excellence

Jones brings to Van Andel Institute a history of

institutional leadership experience, including his

role as the Director of the University of Southern

California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and

as a leading member of the International Human

Epigenome Consortium, an organization focused on

mapping thousands of human epigenomes in order

to better understand epigenetics’ role in cancer and

chronic illnesses. This experience will serve Jones

well as he begins to work with Van Andel Institute’s

leadership and staff, builds on the Institute’s cancer

and Parkinson’s disease research and develops a

new focus for future research.

It is Jones’ hope that Van Andel Institute becomes

known as a leader in basic and translational

epigenetic research. Jones posits that a tightened

focal point, centered on epigenetics, gives the

Institute a unique and powerful identity in the

scientific marketplace of ideas.

“I think Van Andel Research Institute would benefit

from an additional focus on epigenetics,” Jones said.

“I think the Institute has the potential to be known as

a strong-house of epigenetics in the world.”

This new focus on epigenetics includes a

concentration on translational research that

could lead to epigenetic therapies for cancer and

neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. Jones


elieves this focus is in keeping with Van Andel Institute’s

tradition of supporting basic and translational research, and

views epigenetics as a way to strengthen the Institute’s

diverse research portfolio.

“I want to make the Institute a hub for basic research and

translational epigenetic therapies that will encompass

cancer and neurodegenerative disease research,” Jones said.

“Epigenetics’ role in cancer is something I have spent a good

deal of time working on, but I am also looking forward to

working with Dr. Patrik Brundin and his team in the Laboratory

for Translational Parkinson’s Disease Research to explore

the role epigenetics might play in Parkinson’s and other

neurodegenerative diseases.”

The concept of collaboration is going to play a significant role

in Jones’ strategy of creating a focus on epigenetics at the

Institute. The notion of collaboration is something Jones has

cultivated throughout his career, working on diverse teams

of researchers, geneticists, pathologists, biostatisticians,

chemists, informaticists, oncologists, surgeons and specialists.

At the nucleus of Jones’ concept is an epigenetics consortium,

bringing intellectual capital and new energy to the Institute.

“Initially, we are going to develop a consortium of five

academic institutions - four in the U.S. and one outside of the

U.S. - which will carry on the work of developing epigenetic

therapies that can be applied to human beings,” Jones said.

This consortium of experts will utilize Van Andel Institute as a

hub to meet, strategize and source funding for research and

targeted clinical trials. This spirit of collaboration is inherent in

the innovative, interdisciplinary approach to modern science that

Jones embraces. Jones aims to build collaborative relationships

with national and international academic and research institutions.

In addition to collaborative relationships, attracting top-level talent

to the Institute is another of Jones’ goals for the near future.

As Director of Research and Chief Scientific Officer, Jones

hopes to increase Van Andel Institute’s name recognition in

the scientific community. While general knowledge of the

Institute is important, Jones understands that the Institute’s

name must be elevated first in the scientific community by

leveraging significant research discoveries and scientific

impact. Van Andel Institute researchers like Dr. Jeff MacKeigan,

Associate Professor and Head, Laboratory of Systems Biology,

are excited about the future under Jones’ leadership.

“Dr. Jones is a world-renowned researcher with tremendous

scientific vision, and with his leadership at the helm we will

continue to build on existing research initiatives, explore

genomic strategies for innovative treatments and position

ourselves to impact human disease,” MacKeigan said.

A Great Gift

Van Andel Institute’s significance in the world of biomedical

research is something Jones feels very strongly about.

When asked about the philanthropic vision of the Institute’s

founders, Jay and Betty Van Andel, Jones states that they

have given the world of science a ‘great gift,’ one that can

have a lasting, powerful impact on the lives of patients and

the course of human health.

“The reason we do this work is to impact people’s lives. When

a patient comes up to me and says, ‘you’re my hero’ because

they are using a therapy I have been working on, that is more

exciting than anything that could happen. I want this amazing

gift the Van Andel family has given to make an impact on

people’s lives.”

For more information on Dr. Jones,

please visit bit.ly/WelcomeDrJones


Dr. Stefan Jovinge

Brings Game-Changing

Cardiovascular Research

to Grand Rapids

Dr. Jovinge

and his

team had


that it was

possible for

the heart to

repair its own


In 2009, the field of cardiovascular research was upended with a paper

published in Science Magazine by researchers in Sweden. The paper, authored

by Dr. Jovinge, outlined a new way of viewing the regenerative properties of

the human heart.

Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014

Before the release, it was believed that the cells that

create heart muscle tissue might be limited to the

number given at the time of birth, and the potential

for postnatal cellular regeneration was not seen as a

viable treatment for cardiovascular disease. Jovinge’s

work with the heart’s cellular building blocks, known

as cardiomyocytes, and progenitor cells, which aid

with cell differentiation, completely changed the way

the medical and academic world views the heart’s

potential for reparative therapy. Jovinge and his team

had discovered that it was possible for the heart to

repair its own tissue.

A partnership between Van Andel Institute and

Spectrum Health, with significant support from

the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, recently

brought Jovinge to Grand Rapids in order to

continue his program focused on cardiovascular

research and regenerative medicine. The

collaborative program, which began in earnest in

January 2014, is comprised of four areas: basic

science with a focus on cell engineering, clinical

science, bioinformatics and the development of

scientific training procedures for interns, graduate

students and post-doctoral fellows. This program

connects Van Andel Institute’s world-renowned

intellectual capital and top-tier research facilities

with Spectrum Health’s clinical trial and cardiac

medicine expertise, creating a perfect atmosphere

for Jovinge’s cutting-edge research.

“Van Andel Research Institute is truly world-class,

and Spectrum Health is among the best in the

country when it comes to clinical performance in the

cardiovascular area,” said Jovinge. “Spectrum Health

has an impressive patient flow and extensive expertise

in cardiovascular medicine, and remarkably neighbors

Van Andel Research Institute, headquartered here in

Grand Rapids. For a clinical scientist like me, there is

a great opportunity in having these two organizations

work together.”

Jovinge views his move to Grand Rapids as one

molded in the entrepreneurial spirit and looks forward


“The only reparative therapy we have

today, if you want new cardiac muscle, is to

transplant a new heart. Our line of work is

actually aiming at using the competence of

your own heart to generate more muscle.”

Dr. Stefan Jovinge

to building a research program equally grounded in basic

research and clinical medicine. The researcher also views this

program as a way for both organizations to reap the benefits

of proximity and experience.

“It’s stimulating for me, and one of my main missions is to

get these two organizations together, because what I do is

connect basic science to medicine,” said Jovinge.

The core of Jovinge’s research in Grand Rapids focuses on

unlocking the regenerative codes found in cardiomyocyte

and progenitor cells. Through Jovinge’s work, he and his team

have uncovered just how diverse and unique cardiomyocytes

are in the development and regulation of heart tissue.

“One of the misconceptions is that all cardiac muscle is

homogenous and not created from different types of cells,”

said Jovinge. “It’s like the cells in bone marrow where there

are red blood cells and white blood cells; the heart also has

different cells that perform different functions.”

Through an involved process of identification, Jovinge is able

to identify a cell’s nuclei, DNA and RNA and begin fingerprinting

the gene expression found in the cell. This process allows the

team to identify different types of cardiomyocytes and isolate

the cells responsible for regeneration of heart tissue. Once

these specific types of cardiomyocytes have been identified,

the next step involves identifying how these cells can spur the

growth of new heart muscle tissue.

“Previously, all the focus has been on injecting cells into

the heart, but it is one thing to inject them, the second is

getting them to survive and thirdly to get them to integrate

and function well together with other cardiomyocytes,”

said Jovinge. “The vast majority of these injected cells

will die and even if they survive they need to couple to the

other cells because cardiomyocytes need to communicate

with each other to contract synchronously.”

In Jovinge’s research, he aims to identify the cells that are

responsible for regeneration, and to understand how to

stimulate the regenerative process and encourage cell survival.

Globally, cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause

of death for adults, and Jovinge’s research remains one of the

most novel approaches to addressing this pressing health issue.

The findings from Jovinge’s work have far-reaching implications

regarding therapies for those living with cardiovascular disease.

Jovinge remains encouraged by the program’s initial discoveries

and believes his research could one day provide treatment

options that would address the source of cardiovascular

disease, rather than current therapies that address symptoms.

“The only reparative therapy we have today, if you want new

cardiac muscle, is to transplant a new heart,” said Jovinge.

“Our line of work is actually aiming at using the competence

of your own heart to generate more muscle.”

The program, under the direction of Jovinge, is a testament

to the collaborative spirit of both Van Andel Institute and

Spectrum Health, and the collective desire to bring forth

therapies that change the way cardiovascular disease is

addressed in the future.

For more information on Dr. Jovinge or

his work at Van Andel Institute, please

visit bit.ly/VAIStefanJovinge



stabilizes the structure

(green) of colon cancer

cells and induces new

gene expression (red)

in the nucleus (blue) to

impair tumor growth.

Recent Van Andel Institute

Discovery Identifies Novel

Cancer Treatment Strategy

Van Andel Institute announces yet another discovery that changes the

course of research. A recent study identifies an innovative treatment

strategy that can slow tumor growth while protecting normal tissue.

Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014

Arthur S. Alberts, Ph.D.

Professor and Head

of the Laboratory of

Cell Structure and

Signal Integration led

the recent study on

cancer treatments.

Find out more about

Dr. Alberts and

support his work at


The study was led by Arthur S. Alberts,

Ph.D., Professor and Head of the Laboratory

of Cell Structure and Signal Integration at

Van Andel Institute.

“This discovery could lead to novel cancer

therapies for hard-to-treat cancers and

potentially serve as an alternative to

existing drug agents which are commonly

used in chemotherapy to treat breast,

ovarian, lung, testicular and certain blood

cancers,” said Alberts.

It focuses on validating biological drug

targets, an important part of creating

new cancer therapies. Drug targets are

molecular structures that can be modified

by an external stimulus such as chemicals or

drugs, to treat or diagnose a disease. In the

early phases of drug development, a target

must be validated in the laboratory before it

can move to human clinical trials.

The study’s results describe a new class of

compounds called Intramimics that target a

family of proteins, formins. Thanks to unique

attributes of the compounds, researchers

hope that they can target specific cancer cells

and spare healthy cells without the doselimiting

side effects experienced with Taxol

and Vinblastine, existing chemotherapeutic

agents that target cell structure.

“Taxol and Vinblastine target structural

components found in all cells. Instead of

disrupting the bricks, Intramimics tackle the

masons of the cell that assemble the bricks.

We hope that we can tune Intramimics to

manipulate specific molecular masons in

cancer cells in order to spare healthy cells.

We are starting this tuning process now,”

said Alberts. “Intramimics will serve as

lead compounds for further exploration and

pharmacological development.”

Alberts’ research team plans to continue

developing Intramimics as well as learning

more about which cancers are vulnerable

to the strategy. “We are also committed

to using the Intramimic strategy to prevent

cancers,” said Alberts.

In initial experiments, the approach reduced

or slowed tumor growth, which suggests it

could be an effective strategy for treating

solid tumors. Other preliminary evidence

suggests a potential application for the

treatment of blood cancers as well.

The study was carried out at Van Andel

Institute in collaboration with scientists

from Grand Valley State University and

Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s

Michigan High Throughput Screening Center.

It attracted the attention of the journal

Cancer Research which published the report

and featured it on the cover of its November

15 edition.


New Hires Broaden

Van Andel Institute’s Centers

Van Andel Institute (VAI) continues to fill the ranks

with talented researchers. We welcome Dr. Ning

Wu in the Center for Cancer and Cell Biology and

Dr. Jiyan Ma in the Center for Neurodegenerative

Science to the VAI family. Their expertise diversifies

and strengthens VAI’s impressive research team.

Dr. Ning Wu received her Ph.D. in the

Department of Biochemistry at the

University of Toronto in 2002, and then

served as a Research Associate at the

Scripps Research Institute. In 2004,

Dr. Wu joined the Beth Israel Deaconess

Medical Center at Harvard Medical

School as a Research Fellow studying

signaling pathways that regulate normal mammalian cell

growth and defects that cause cell transformation.

Dr. Wu joins VAI as an Assistant Professor and Head of the

Laboratory of Cancer Signaling and Metabolism. Dr. Wu’s

laboratory aims to unravel the molecular mechanisms

governing glucose metabolism in cancer. Relative to

normal cells, tumor cells have very high energy needs.

By understanding tumor cell energy requirements and

regulatory pathways, more effective treatments can be

developed by optimizing existing therapies or identifying

new therapeutic targets.

Dr. Jiyan Ma received his Ph.D. from

the University of Illinois at Chicago in

1997. He then served as a Research

Associate at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Ma was appointed as an Assistant

Professor at Ohio State University in

2002 and was promoted to Associate

Professor in 2009.

Dr. Ma, who joins VAI as a Professor and Head of the

Laboratory of Prion Mechanisms in Neurodegeneration,

holds two R01 federal research grants from the National

Institutes of Health. His research focuses on prions,

which are the misfolded proteins that cause infectious

neurodegenerative diseases such as “mad cow disease”

and the human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Dr. Ma’s research at VAI will expand to include the

prion-like behavior of misfolded proteins in other

neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.


more about

Dr. Wu’s lab

and support

her work

at bit.ly/



more about

Dr. Ma’s lab

and support

his work

at bit.ly/


Van Andel Institute’s

Founding Director of Research,

Dr. George Vande Woude, Receives

Prestigious Scientific Award

Dr. George Vande Woude, Van Andel

Institute’s Founding Research Director,

recently received the Fellowship Award

in Biological Science from the American

Association for the Advancement of Science

(AAAS) organization. The AAAS bestows this

annual award to a select number of scientists

who are honored for their meritorious efforts

to advance science or its applications.

The AAAS is a non-profit organization with the

mission of promoting cooperation among scientists,

encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting

education and outreach initiatives that directly impact

human health. It is the world’s most prestigious

general scientific society.

In 1999, Dr. Vande Woude was appointed as the first

Director of Van Andel Research Institute. In 2009, Dr.

Vande Woude stepped down as Director and assumed

the title of Distinguished Scientific Fellow, retaining his

role as head of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology.

Dr. Vande Woude is responsible for discovering the

human MET oncogene, a groundbreaking therapeutic

target utilized in personalized therapies for many

virulent cancers.

For more information on Dr. Vande Woude

and cancer research at Van Andel Institute,

visit bit.ly/VAIVandeWoude.






Van Andel Institute Graduate School

students learn to think and act like

scientists through the program’s

unique curriculum.

Van Andel Institute

Graduate School

Receives Accreditation

Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS) has received institutional accreditation

from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for its Ph.D. program in cell, molecular

and genetic biology of human disease. The innovative inquiry-based curriculum

of VAIGS combines biomedical and translational research with professional

mentorship by the scientists of Van Andel Research Institute, with further advice

and evaluation from faculty members at other research institutes and universities.

“The accreditation represents affirmation

by the larger academic community that we

meet their standards and expectations,”

said Dr. Steven Triezenberg, President

and Dean of Van Andel Institute Graduate

School. “It reinforces that the innovative

and creative way we developed this

program is appropriate.”

VAIGS focuses on developing students to

become scientists and research leaders

early in their career by teaching them to

think and act like scientists. The problembased

curriculum developed by VAIGS is

unique; to Dr. Triezenberg’s knowledge, no

other program like this one currently exists.

VAIGS graduate students work alongside

experienced researchers and receive valuable

one-on-one training. On average, only one

graduate student is placed into each lab.

The program is still relatively small, and that’s

by design. “We don’t strive to be the largest,

but to be among the best,” said Triezenberg.

Currently twenty-two students are enrolled

at VAIGS and another six are expected to be

accepted into next year’s incoming class.

“I want to commend the students who put

their confidence and faith in us when they

signed up for a graduate program that wasn’t

tested,” Triezenberg said. The first students

joined VAIGS’s inaugural class in 2007. Last

year, two of those students graduated with

Ph.D. degrees and accepted postdoctoral

positions at first-rate university labs.

“I was warned before I accepted a position

at VAIGS that I was taking a risk if I chose

to attend an unaccredited institute for my

graduate work, especially one so distinctly

different from most other programs,” said

Laura Westrate, VAIGS student who joined the

program during its second year of existence

and graduated in December 2013. “However,

after interviewing at Van Andel Institute I

felt the risk seemed minimal. The training

program is uniquely designed to effectively

transition students to scientists.”

The Higher Learning Commission is

responsible for accrediting degree-granting

institutions of higher education, and is part

of the North Central Association of Colleges

and Schools, one of six regional institutional

accreditors in the United States.


Fourth Student Graduates from

Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Graduate Dr. Laura Westrate (center)

with Van Andel Research Institute’s staff.

Laura Westrate, a fifth-year student at Van Andel Institute Graduate

School (VAIGS), graduated on December 2, 2013 with her Ph.D. in Cell

and Molecular Genetics. She is the fourth graduate from Van Andel

Institute Graduate School.

Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014

Dr. Laura Westrate conducted

her dissertation on mitochondria

and worked in the Laboratory of

Systems Biology at Van Andel


While at Hope College, Westrate fell in love

with the research lab and addressing unknown

questions. “I’m a big problem solver,” said

Westrate. “I like puzzles and this really is the

ultimate puzzle in life — being able to take

these medical issues nobody knows and trying

to find an answer for them.”

Westrate’s dissertation, entitled “Quantitation

of Mitochondrial Dynamics Reveals Critical

Roles for Mitochondrial Morphology in Cell

Cycle Progression and Apoptosis,” focused

on mitochondria, the organelle structures

found in cells that are responsible for cellular

energy, growth and death. Westrate studied the

structures of mitochondria and how alterations

could affect the rate by which cells divide

and grow. She tested how the mitochondria

responded when presented with a number of

chemotherapeutic treatments.

By changing the structures of these

mitochondria, Westrate was able to change how

rapidly the cells divided. Her study found that

by elongating the mitochondria structures she

was able to prevent the division of cells. This is

applicable to cancer because if researchers are

able to prevent the cancer cells from dividing,

they can theoretically prevent the spread and

growth of cancers throughout the body.

Dr. Jeff MacKegian, Associate Professor and

Head of the Laboratory of Systems Biology

at Van Andel Institute, served as Westrate’s

mentor during her time at VAIGS and was

fundamental in leading her research. “Dr.

Laura Westrate is one of the most intelligent,

hardworking and professional scientists you will

encounter. Her research has allowed for new

innovative approaches for systems biology,

incorporating mathematics and cell biology to

make discoveries.”

After graduation, Westrate will fill a postdoctoral

fellow position at the University of Colorado

where she will continue to pursue her research

interests. Her future work will focus on another

organelle, the endoplasmic reticulum.

Westrate is very excited about her new position.

“I’m most interested in taking the things I’ve

learned here and applying them to a brand

new project,” she said. “I also want to teach

and mentor younger scientists so I can open up

their eyes to what this job is really like.”


Undergraduate students

present research at

the West Michigan

Regional Undergraduate

Science Conference.

Science Conference Draws

Record Crowd

More than 340 students and faculty poured through

Van Andel Institute’s doors on November 16, 2013

to attend the West Michigan Regional Undergraduate

Science Conference. The conference is the first opportunity

for many students to present their findings to peers

and professionals.

“It’s one thing to present your work to your class; it’s quite another to stand up

and present it in front of a few hundred people,“ said Dr. Nick Duesbery, Head

of the Laboratory of Cancer and Developmental Cell Biology at Van Andel

Research Institute.

The conference consisted of a number of faculty presentations where students

heard stimulating talks on current trends in biology, chemistry, physics and

other topics. The 2013 keynote address was presented by Scott Barolo, Ph.D.,

from the University of Michigan Medical School.

Students also had the opportunity to meet with recruiters from eleven graduate

schools, including the recently accredited Van Andel Institute Graduate School,

to learn about advancing their science education.

The conference is organized by Aquinas College, Calvin College, Grand Valley

State University, Hope College and Van Andel Institute Graduate School.

“The science conference is a wonderful collaboration from area institutions,”

said Dr. Steven Triezenberg, Director of Van Andel Education Institute. “It

provides students with a valuable professional experience at no cost.”

Please contact Van Andel Education Institute Development if you would like

to learn about sponsoring the 2014 West Michigan Regional Undergraduate

Science Conference at 616.234.5040 or vaeidevelopment@vai.org.




Students Exceed

Five-Year, $ 100,000

Fundraising Goal

Many high school seniors are preoccupied with college applications,

the latest social media news, prom and spring break plans. Four

seniors at Forest Hills Central High School, however, spent their fall

differently. They were focused on an aggressive fundraising goal set

as eighth graders to support cancer and neurodegenerative disease

research at Van Andel Institute.

Participate or support

a Purple Community

event by visiting


Pictured above left to right:

Forest Hills Central High School

students Bella Fiorenzo, Allie Wittenbach,

Sydney Vinton and Mariah Otolski

present a check to Purple Community

Coordinator, Sara Hop.

After meeting with Van Andel Institute founding

Research Director Dr. George Vande Woude in

2009, Bella Fiorenzo, Mariah Otolski, Sydney

Vinton and Allie Wittenbach decided to make an

impact on cancer research by raising $100,000

before they graduated in 2014.

“Cancer affects the entire community,”

said Vinton.

They created the Purple Community Club and

hosted their first event as eighth graders when

they raised $5,000 at a middle school track

meet. Their fundraising events have grown

each year, culminating in their final event in

December 2013.

They planned an entire week of festivities

leading up to boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball

Purple Games TM . Students kicked off the week

with a hockey game and fundraiser at Quaker

Steak & Lube. They held spirit days, sold purple

t-shirts, hosted coin wars in the elementary and

middle schools and prepared for the basketball

game with a pep assembly.

The feature event was a great success. The

high school gym was standing-room only for the

basketball games. The students recruited 44

sponsors and exceeded their fundraising goal

with their cumulative total reaching $105,962.

The students take great pride in the fact that

100% of their donation benefits VAI research

labs where discoveries are made that could

lead to improved cancer treatments and

diagnostic tests.

Since getting involved with Purple Community,

the students’ lives have been personally

impacted by cancer. Several have watched

firsthand as relatives received cancer diagnoses

and underwent treatment. Wittenbach helps

coordinate the event and plays in the basketball

game to honor her mother who was diagnosed

with cancer when she was a freshman.

“When I walked into the gym that day, seeing all

the purple decorations made my heart feel so

good,” said Wittenbach. “We all share our stories

in the locker room of who we’re playing for and

that can get sad and emotional. But when we

run out there and see our crowd, see people

supporting it, everybody has good vibes.”

The event means something different to each

of the student organizers, but it’s a personal

experience for all of them.

“Everyone you meet knows a friend, a parent, a

sibling, a family member or someone who has

had cancer,” said Fiorenzo.

“We bring our community together to make a

difference,” said Otolski. “It has been wonderful

working with Purple Community events over the

past five years.”





For all upcoming events,

please visit us at


Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014


March 7

Grand Rapids Griffins

Purple Game

April 5

Grand Valley State


Pre-Soma 5k

May 16

Duncan Lake Middle

School Community

Cancer Walk

July 29

West Michigan

Whitecaps Purple

Baseball Game

September 13

Mari J. Meyer

Pancreatic Cancer

Trail Run for Hope

Van Andel Institute supporters form a ribbon on the Detroit Red Wings’ ice following Hockey

Fights Cancer Night.

Fighting Cancer with Hockey

Purple Community makes it possible to support biomedical research

and science education at Van Andel Institute in many ways. Hockey

games have become one of the most popular community events, and

Purple Community has continued to cultivate partners who contribute

to their success.

Van Andel Institute - Purple Community

partnered with the Detroit Red Wings to

sponsor Hockey Fights Cancer Night on October

26, 2013. The sold-out game against the New

York Rangers packed Joe Louis Arena with more

than 20,000 fans.

All attendees at the game were given Purple

Community rally towels, a Share Your Story

card and a marker. Those in attendance were

invited to write the name of a friend or family

member who had been affected by cancer on

the card and hold it up during a break in the

game. Thousands of individuals held up cards in

the emotional display of cancer awareness.

Hockey Fights Cancer Night was a great

success for both Van Andel Institute and the

Detroit Red Wings and is seen as the beginning

of a lasting partnership.

Members of Purple Community traveled to

Wings Stadium on February 8, 2014 for a

Kalamazoo Wings Purple Game. Although Purple

Community has partnered with Kalamazoo-area

schools Otsego and Plainwell, this was the first

K-Wings Purple Game.

“In 2014, Purple Community hopes to do more

events in Kalamazoo,” said Purple Community

National Programs Manager Nikki Outhier. “We

want the area to know more about Van Andel

Institute and the world-class research and science

education taking place in our backyard.”

Purple Community also returns to Van Andel

Arena for a Purple Game with the Grand Rapids

Griffins on March 7, 2014. The third annual

Griffins Purple Game is a highly anticipated

event for Purple Community and expected to be

a sold-out event.

“We have a wonderful relationship with the Grand

Rapids Griffins, and we’re working together to

make this the best Purple Game yet,” said Outhier.

Partnerships with the Detroit Red Wings,

Kalamazoo Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins

help Purple Community increase its presence

throughout Michigan, generate new members

and develop additional events that benefit

Van Andel Institute.

You can support Purple Community and Van Andel

Institute by attending a game, promoting it on

social media, or hosting your own event. Visit

PurpleCommunity.org to learn more.

Join us for this

Purple Community

Hockey Event!

Grand Rapids Griffins

Purple Game TM

Friday, March 7, 2014

Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

Ticket information available at


Take a Tour

of Van Andel


Tours of Van Andel Institute’s

state-of-the-art facility are

available for those interested in

learning more about disease

research and science education.

Register for a tour online at


Volunteer for

Van Andel Institute’s

Angel Corps

Van Andel Institute hosts thousands of

guests each year and enlists volunteers to

serve as ambassadors to provide a great

tour experience. If you’re comfortable speaking

in front of groups and available during

business hours, support Van Andel Institute

by volunteering for Angel Corps!

Apply to be part of Angel Corps at





Couture for a Cure

The eighth annual Couture for a Cure

presented by Amway and Leigh’s was

a sold-out event on October 10, 2013.

A record crowd of more than 450

Van Andel Institute supporters

surrounded a New York-style

runway to preview Cynthia Rose’s

Holiday ’13 and Spring ’14 collections.

Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014


Hope on the Hill

On October 17, 2013, hundreds of

donors, philanthropists, researchers,

educators and members of the Grand

Rapids business community gathered

for the 13th Annual Hope on the Hill

Gala. Guests sampled delectable

menu items from some of the area’s

finest restaurants, sipped on exotic

cocktails and enjoyed live music and

performances by The SILHOUETTES®.

The night raised significant funds

for Van Andel Institute and was

the most successful Hope

on the Hill event to date.


Van Andel Institute

Breast Cancer Luncheons

Van Andel Institute’s popular Breast Cancer Luncheons

brought stories of hope and inspiration to both Troy and

Grand Rapids, Michigan in the fall of 2013. The luncheons,

which focus on the leading advances in breast cancer

research, celebrated breast cancer survivors and inspired

women to take ownership and become personal health


Van Andel

Institute Visits

New York

David and Carol Van Andel traveled

to New York City on November 7,

2013, with members of Van Andel

Institute’s research centers and

development department to speak

with supporters about the Institute’s

vision for biomedical research. Those

in attendance had an opportunity to

learn about the groundbreaking work

being done in the fields of research

and science education.


Around the World

J-Board Ambassadors hosted Van Andel

Institute supporters at The Harris Building for

an evening of wine tasting and global cuisine

on November 15, 2013. Proceeds from the

event supported science education initiatives

at Van Andel Education Institute.





Proceeds benefit Parkinson’s research at:


9th Annual

Van andel Institute

Thursday, February 27, 2014 | 5:30 pm

Ambassador Ballroom

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Hosted by Blair & Michelle Sharpe

and George Jr. & Missy Sharpe

Emceed by Tony and Michelle

co-hosts of the Tony Gates Morning Show on WLAV

Enjoy delectable cuisine prepared by chefs from the

finest restaurants in Grand Rapids, and have the

opportunity to bid on a gourmet meal prepared by

one of these chefs at your home.

Cocktail Reception

Live Chef Auction


Silent Auction + Raffle


Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014


Thank You to

Our Event Sponsors!

Couture for a Cure

Title Sponsor


Presented by


VIP Sponsor

Jamie R. Mills, Mills Benefit Group,

A Lighthouse Company

Vintage Sponsor

Lennon Media Management, LLC

Hair Stylist Sponsor

The Crown Jewel Salon and Spa

Restaurant Sponsors


CityS en _ Lounge

Media Sponsors

Women’s Lifestyle Magazine

Channel 95.7 FM

The River 100.5

Runway Sponsors

Scott Christopher Homes

Todd Wenzel Buick GMC

Chuck and Christine Boelkins

Love and Valeda Collins

Jana Hall

Paul and Sheryl Haverkate

Mike and Sue Jandernoa

Al and Robin Koop

Brad and Leslie Nelson/Genesis Media


Steve Van Andel

David and Anne-Lise Whitescarver

Kathleen Ellsworth, DDS. PC

The Grand Rapids Press

Regal Investment Advisors

In-Kind Sponsors

Expression Rings of Hope

Rita Girls Mobile Bakery


Bar Divani

Blue Water Technologies

Laura Mercier

Modern Day Floral

Cynthia Rose


Hope on the Hill

Title Sponsor

Fifth Third

Private Bank

Entertainment Sponsor

The Veldheer, Long, Mackay & Bernecker

Group of Merrill Lynch Wealth


VIP Party Sponsors

GR Outdoor

Fred L. Hansen Corp.

Lighthouse Insurance Group

Jamie R. Mills, Mills Benefit Group

Preusser Jewelers

Diamond Sponsors

Mike and Sue Jandernoa

John and Nancy Kennedy

Warner Norcross and Judd LLP

Platinum Sponsors

Bill and Amy Bennett/Otterbase, Inc.

Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation

Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation

Great Lakes Scrip Center, LLC

Howard Miller

Gold Sponsors

Chuck and Christine Boelkins


Huizenga Group

Robin and Al Koop Foundation

Wolverine Worldwide

Silver Sponsors

Aquinas College

Barnes and Thornburg

Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation

Davenport University

Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation

Fairly Painless Advertising

Grand Valley State University

Granger Group

Gary and Vicky Ludema


MLive Media

Norris Perne and French LLP

Pitsch Companies

Rowerdink, Inc.

The Peter F. Secchia Family

Robert and Susan Stafford

US Bank


Bronze Sponsors



Berends Hendricks Stuit Insurance Agency

Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Michigan

Bruce Heys Builders

Calvin College

Cancer and Hematology Centers

of West Michigan

Colliers International

Love and Valeda Collins

Crowe Horwathe

Custer, Inc.


DK Security

Eenhoorn LLC

Ellis Parking Company, Inc.

Ernst and Young

Ferris Coffee and Nut

Martin and Peggy Greydanus

GUTS Branding

Jana Hall

Hansen Balk Steel Treating Co.

Hope College

Helen J. and Allen I. Hunting Family


The I.C.N. Foundation

Craig and Debra Kinney

Lake Michigan Credit Union

Lambert, Edwards & Associates

Jeannine and Ray Lanning

Law Weathers

Metro Health Hospital

Michigan State University

College of Human Medicine

Pioneer Construction

PNC Bank

Quality Air Service, Inc.

Scott Christopher Homes

The Sharpe Collection of Automobiles

Spectrum Health


Universal Forest Products Inc.

Larry and Marsha Veenstra,

State Farm Insurance

Veolia Energy Grand Rapids, LLC

Visual Entities

Jim and Sue Williams

Wells Fargo Bank

Copper Sponsors

Cornerstone University

Garden of Opportunity

Alfresco Landscapes

Romence Gardens

Restaurant Sponsors

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Bar Divani

The Chop House

CityS en _ Lounge


The Gilmore Collection


One Trick Pony

San Chez Bistro and Café

Twisted Rooster

In-Kind Sponsors

Bluewater Technologies

Cascade Rental

Channel 95.7 and 100.5 The River

Cumulus Media

Ice Sculptures LTD

Modern Day Floral

Special Events Rental

Women’s Lifestyle Magazine

Breast Cancer Luncheon

Grand Rapids

Platinum Sponsor

Scott Christopher Homes

Gold Sponsors

Jamie R. Mills, Mills Benefit Group

Lighthouse Insurance Group

Silver Sponsors

Chuck and Christine Boelkins

Jana Hall

Love and Valeda Collins



Pitsch Companies

In-Kind Sponsors

Channel 95.7 FM

The River 100.5

Breast Cancer Luncheon


Gold Sponsors

Jamie R. Mills, Mills Benefit Group

Lighthouse Group

Olympia Entertainment

Detroit Red Wings

Somerset Inn

Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton, P.C.

Silver Sponsors


Pitsch Companies

Around the World

Haute Cuisine Sponsors

Mika Meyers Beckett &

Jones PLC

Jana Hall

Fine Wine Sponsors

Scott and Heidi Campbell

Mark and Jennifer Ellis

Andy and Christina Keller

Mike and Rachel Mraz

Aaron and Amanda Wong

Food & Beverage Sponsor

Bar Divani

In-Kind Sponsors

Channel 95.7 FM

The River 100.5


The Harris Building

Smart Cancer Research: Van Andel Institute

Receives National Media Attention

Van Andel Institute (VAI) started 2014 with great news: the

organization was featured on the national news website,

Barron’s, known for its financial and investment insight.

The story on Van Andel Institute quoted David and Carol

Van Andel, highlighted the Institute’s groundbreaking

biomedical research, entrepreneurial spirit and mission.

“It reinforces that there is nation-wide

interest in the innovative biomedical research

and science education initiatives we have at

Van Andel Institute,” said David Van Andel,

Chairman and CEO of Van Andel Institute.

David Van Andel described the typically

long lead time and significant investment to

bring a new drug to market and shared the

Institute’s focus on translational research. The

article also cites David and Carol Van Andel’s

passion to provide improved treatments to

patients based on their personal experiences.

View the article

in its entirety at


“This organization is being led by two people

who have heard the devastating words ‘you

have cancer.’ It’s that personal element that

we know well,” said Carol Van Andel.

Monday, May 19, 2014 | 11:00 am

Visit www.vai.org or call 616.234.5712 for

more information.

Proceeds from this event benefit disease research and

science education at Van Andel Institute.




Going to Bat for Breast Cancer

Dolly Konwinski grew up on Chicago’s West Side during the lean years of the Great

Depression. The 82-year-old grandmother still has fond memories of playing street

ball with the boys in her neighborhood. That practice paid off as she went on to

become one of the first female professional baseball players in the United States

in the post-war Women’s League in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Dolly Konwinski poses with a pink bat

signed by sports legends.

The story of this fabled league was turned into

the movie A League of Their Own in 1992.

Dolly is a fighter, and her fierce spirit and gutsy

determination have not only made her an

unlikely historical figure, but a strident advocate

in the fight against cancer.

When Dolly’s husband, Bob, was diagnosed

with cancer, she became increasingly aware of

how many people are affected by the disease.

One Sunday while making dinner and watching

baseball, Dolly experienced an epiphany.

“I was taking a break from cooking, and I sat

down at the beginning of a Tigers game and I

see one player come out and he has a pink bat,

and I see another guy in the on-deck circle and

he has a pink bat … and I sat back and thought I’d

get some pink baseball bats and get champion

athletes to sign them, then sell them and give

the money to cancer research,” said Konwinski.

members of the research staff. Soon after, she

decided to donate all the proceeds from the

pink bats to support breast cancer research at

Van Andel Institute.

Dolly traveled tirelessly across the United States

to various sports memorabilia conventions,

collecting more than 40 signatures on all four

bats. Sports luminaries such as Nicholas Palmer,

Gayle Sayers, Troy Aikman, Joe Montana, Brian

Urlacher and Pete Rose all decided to help Dolly

with her initiative. To date, Dolly has raised

nearly $10,000 to benefit cancer research at

the Institute.

“I know so many women

affected by breast cancer…

it’s a labor of love.”

Dolly Konwinski

Thanks to a chance encounter with her

husband’s surgeon, Dr. John MacKeigan, Dolly

learned about cancer research at Van Andel

Institute. Dolly toured the facility and met with


Learn More: Go to

www.vai.org to join Dolly

Konwinski in supporting

breast cancer research.

Highlights of Hope / Winter 2014

There are many ways to join our fight. Learn more below or contact the Development

Department with your questions at development@vai.org or 616.234.5120.


Visit www.vai.org to donate

through PayPay TM or a secure

electronic form, sign up for an

email newsletter, find upcoming

events or schedule a tour.


Please make your check payable to

Van Andel Institute and mail to:

Development Department

Van Andel Institute

333 Bostwick Ave N.E.

Grand Rapids, MI 49503


The most practical way to make a

significant impact may be through

your estate plan. It ensures that

the research, discovery and hope

of Van Andel Institute continues

for future generations. Contact

Development to learn more.


A Legacy of Caring

Giving a planned gift to Van Andel Institute shows

commitment to disease research and science education

and leaves a long-lasting legacy. For Vivian Anderson

of Grant, Michigan, her bequest was one act of many in

a lifetime of love, kindness and service of others.

“Mother strongly believed in love,

care and closeness of her family,”

said Dawn Anderson, Vivian’s

daughter. “She and my father took

care of and provided for numerous

relatives on both sides of the

family. Their home was the center

of gatherings, celebrations and

family togetherness and strength.”

Vivian and her husband Bob were

fruit farmers for many years.

They were some of the first

local farmers to grow apricots

for Gerber Baby Food Company,

helping the company diversify its

baby food offerings.

Vivian’s legacy of caring for others

continues with her planned gift to

Van Andel Institute. Thanks to her

generosity, discoveries in cancer

and neurodegenerative disease

research continue at a faster

pace than ever before. Vivian also

inspired Dawn to leave her own gift

by including Van Andel Education

Institute in her estate plans.

“I believe in the future, in the

young people who will discover

more and in the dedication of

the Institute that will provide the

space, materials and guidance

for this new generation to move

forward and progress,” said Dawn.

Vivian Anderson, a fruit farmer

from Grant, Michigan, left a legacy

for Van Andel Institute with her

planned gift.

“I believe in hope, the

love of giving and

the thrill of what will

come next.”

Dawn Anderson

Van Andel Institute Donor

The Development staff is

happy to discuss planned

giving opportunities that fit

your interests, passions and

legacy. Learn more by visiting


or contacting Development

at 616.234.5030.



Members of the Hope on the Hill Board of

Governors support the Institute financially and

are the ambassadors who share our mission,

vision and important work with others to help

us gain further support to advance our efforts.

CHAIR: John Canepa

Martin & Sue Allen

Ray & Alice Andrews

Tony & Kathleen Asselta

James & Shirley Balk

John & Nancy Batts

Charles & Christine Boelkins

Jim & Donna Brooks

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan

John & Marie Canepa

President Jimmy Carter

Love & Valeda Collins

Sam & Janene Cummings

William & Janice Currie

Dave & Karen Custer

Daniel & Pamella DeVos

Dick & Betsy DeVos

Douglas & Maria DeVos

Richard & Helen DeVos

Jim & Gail Fahner

John & Melynda Folkert

David & Judy Frey

Dan & Lou Ann Gaydou

Gene & Tubie Gilmore

Gary Granger

Martin & Margaret Greydanus

Jana Hall

Ralph Hauenstein

Steve & Brenda Heacock

John & Gwen Hibbard

Dirk & Victoria Hoffius

Earl & Donnalee Holton

Allen & Helen Hunting

José & Sue Infante

Win & Kyle Irwin

Michael & Sue Jandernoa

Sidney & Cate Jansma

Dr. Peter A. & Veronica Jones

John & Nancy Kennedy

Craig & Debra Kinney

Wilbur & Sharon Lettinga

J-Board Members

Members of the J-Board are young leaders

who periodically gather to network and learn

more about VAI so that they can serve as

Institute ambassadors in the community.

CO CHAIRS: Heidi Campbell

& Rachel Mraz

Zeke Alejos

Lindsay Benedict

Brandon Bissell

Scott & Heidi Campbell

Linda Jo Carron

Natalie Cleary

Aaron & Afton DeVos

Leslie Drueke

Dawn Fiedorowicz-Mackson

Bo & Jennifer Fowler

Mark Holtvluwer & Wendy

Parr Holtvluwer

Matthew & Sarah Hudson

Brandi Jo Huyser

Patrick Kane

Ray Loeschner

Tim & Kimberly Long

Gary & Vicky Ludema

Donald & Kathleen Maine

Hank & Liesel Meijer

Lena Meijer

Mark & Mary Beth Meijer

R. George Mickel

Jack Miller

Jamie Mills

Louis & Nancy Moran

Mark & Elizabeth Murray

Tim & Denise Myers

Bill & Sandi Nicholson

Juan & Mary Olivarez

Dale & Sonja Robertson

Carol Rottman

Margaret Ryan

Peter & Joan Secchia

Budge & Marilyn Sherwood

Brent & Diane Slay

Duke & Sue Suwyn

Marilyn Titche

Steven & Laura Triezenberg

David & Carol Van Andel

Steve Van Andel

Cheri VanderWeide

Michael & Michelle Van Dyke

Gordon & Mary Van Harn

Gordon & Margaret Van


George & Dot Vande Woude

Stuart & Nelleke Vander


David & Anne-Lise


Scott & Rebecca Wierda

Linda Zarzecki & Dr. Liam


*As of December 31, 2013

Andrew Keller

Christina Keller

Michael Lomonaco

Alyssa Ludema

Jennifer Maxson

Casey McDonald

Michael & Rachel Mraz

Matt Osterhaven

Andrew Robitaille

Charles Rowerdink

Lindsay Slagboom

Jason & Kimberly Slaikeu

Megan Spruit

Joshua Stafford

Alison Waske

Nathaniel Wolf

Megan Zubrickas

*As of December 31, 2013






333 Bostwick Avenue NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Van Andel Institute special events offer a great atmosphere in which to enjoy spectacular

food, entertainment and unique experiences. Whether you attend an event, become a

sponsor, or host your own, you’ll have fun while supporting a great cause.

Visit www.vai.org or call 616.234.5712 for more information!

March 7

Grand Rapids Griffins

Purple Game TM

The 2014 Griffins Purple Game is a great

way to spread the word about Purple

Community and encourage people to join the

fight against cancer and neurodegenerative

diseases. Ticket information available at


February 27


The ninth annual Winterfest Celebration features gourmet

cuisine prepared by chefs from the finest restaurants in Grand

Rapids. Join us for this unique opportunity to raise funds and

awareness for Parkinson’s disease research.

May 19

Van Andel Institute Golf Outing

Join friends of Van Andel Institute at the seventh annual

golf outing to support cancer and neurodegenerative disease

research and science education.

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