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2019 Annual Report

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ANNUAL REPORT

2019


Through biomedical research and science education,

Van Andel Institute is committed to improving the

health and enhancing the lives of current and

future generations.


Table of Contents

2 A letter from David Van Andel

4 Research

6 New blood test for pancreatic cancer

8 Inflammation’s role in depression

and suicide

10 Road map to a healthier future

12 Research highlights

15 Translating impact from the lab to the clinic

16 Van Andel Institute’s principal investigators

22 Graduate School welcomes largest, most

international cohort

24 Graduate School highlights and

student statistics

26 Education

28 Blue Apple brings project-based learning

to life

29 Science on the Grand

30 Strong growth for VAI student programs

32 Events and Philanthropy

34 Event photos

45 Signature special event sponsors

46 George Vande Woude: A life lived in science

47 Supporting Parkinson’s research today,

because of tomorrow

48 Student Ambassadors make their mark

49 Parkinson’s research goes ‘MINI’ on the

Mackinac Bridge

50 Events and philanthropy highlights

51 Society of Hope

52 By the numbers

53 Institute leadership team

54 Board members

56 Board of Governors

57 JBoard Ambassadors


A letter from David Van Andel

Dear Friends,

This year’s annual report was created against the backdrop of a changing world, given

the indelible mark made on our global society by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though we remain strong as an Institute and are proud to share our breakthroughs

and triumphs, we also want to express our gratitude to you as we all make our way in

these uncertain times. It is the deep sense of community with our hometown that has

sustained us for many years, and we will forge ahead together through this altered

landscape.

Over the course of the last year, we have continued to shape the course of scientific

discovery and stayed on the cutting edge of K-12 and graduate education. You’ll find

evidence of that in the following pages, stories and anecdotes that reflect our unbridled

concern for humanity.

While our collective reality has changed, the progress made by VAI scientists and

educators in 2019 laid a strong foundation to continue our mission of improving the

health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations.

Early in the year, for example, a team led by Institute scientists announced a new

combination blood test for pancreatic cancer that may help save lives by catching this

notoriously difficult-to-treat disease sooner. That test was undergoing additional thirdparty

validation as of spring 2020. In another breakthrough, a team led by VAI scientists

identified a new mechanism that accelerates aging in the brain and gives rise to the

most devastating biological features inherent in Alzheimer’s disease. The findings give

scientists new avenues for screening compounds designed to slow or stop Alzheimer’s

progression, something existing medications cannot do.

In the summer, Van Andel Institute for Education launched its Blue Apple initiative

that has brought project-based learning to life in classrooms nationwide. And Van Andel

Institute Graduate School welcomed in the fall its largest and most international cohort

to date.

our progress. Your support empowers the Institute to attract and retain world-class

scientists and educators who carry out vital and important work on behalf of a world in

need.

The Institute thanks you. I thank you. We hope you enjoy reading about the work we are

doing here at VAI — the work made possible by you.

Warmly,

David Van Andel

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO

It is because of you that we can work urgently to end diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s

and Parkinson’s, inspiring and training the scientists of tomorrow who will build on

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VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 3


Van Andel Institute for Research

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

research. The Institute’s scientists collaborate with partners around the

world to catalyze discovery and translate bold ideas into breakthrough

treatment strategies.

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VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 5


New combination blood test for pancreatic cancer

may catch disease earlier

Clues in the blood may help catch pancreatic cancer

sooner, giving people battling this deadly disease a

better chance at remission.

A team led by Dr. Brian Haab has developed a new,

simple blood test that, when combined with an existing

test, detects nearly 70% of pancreatic cancers with

a less than 5% false-positive rate. If successful in

additional clinical evaluation, this new combination

approach could give doctors a powerful new tool for

screening people at high risk for pancreatic cancer and

increase the chances that it’s caught in its earlier and

more treatable stages.

“Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease made even

more devastating by its tendency to spread before

detection, which is a serious roadblock to successful

medical treatment,” Haab said. “We hope that our new

method will help doctors catch and treat pancreatic

cancer before this happens.”

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose because it

often doesn’t have obvious early symptoms. By the

time the disease is found, it typically is quite advanced,

complicating treatment and leading to poorer

outcomes. Only 8.5% of people with pancreatic cancer

survive past five years, a figure that has only risen

slightly since the early 1990s.

Both Haab’s new test and the existing test detect

and measure levels of sugars produced by pancreatic

cancer cells that subsequently escape into the blood

stream. The sugar measured by the new test — sTRA —

is produced by a different subset of pancreatic cancers

than CA-19-9, the sugar measured by the existing test.

When used together, the tests cast a broader net and

detect subtypes of pancreatic cancer that may have

been missed by using one of the two tests on its own.

“We believe using these tests in a complementary

fashion will help physicians detect pancreatic cancers

much sooner in the disease process, which significantly

improves a patient’s chance for survival,” Haab said.

“Right now, there are few options for people suspected

to have pancreatic cancer. This combined blood test

could be a simple, cost-effective way to detect disease

early enough to save lives.”

In late 2019, the test began undergoing additional realworld

validation in clinical labs at Spectrum Health. If

successful as expected, Haab and his team envision the

test becoming widely available as a screening tool for

high-risk individuals.

Research reported in this publication was supported by

the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes

of Health under award numbers U01CA152653,

U01CA200466, U01CA200468, U01CA168896,

U01CA196403 and P30CA138313. The content is solely

the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily

represent the official views of the National Institutes of

Health.

“Pancreatic cancer is an

aggressive disease made even

more devastating by its tendency

to spread before detection,

which is a serious roadblock to

successful medical treatment.

We hope that our new method

will help doctors catch and treat

pancreatic cancer before

this happens.”

— DR. BRIAN HAAB

6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


RESEARCH

DR. BRIAN HAAB

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 7


Rooting out inflammation’s role in depression and suicide

Depression and suicide have long carried a stigma —

one that Dr. Lena Brundin hopes to dispel through a

better understanding of their biological roots.

“I think it’s still hard for people to see depression and

suicidality as physical illnesses, but that’s what they

are,” said Brundin, an associate professor in Van Andel

Institute’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science.

“There are measurable biological contributors such as

byproducts of chronic inflammation that influence a

person’s likelihood to develop depression or self-harm.

Leveraging these markers could hold the key to helping

people before it is too late.”

Brundin’s efforts go back decades: as a graduate

student at Sweden’s Lund University in the late 1990s,

she noticed a major inflammatory reaction in brain cells

that had been transplanted into people with Parkinson’s

disease. It made her wonder: could such an aggressive

reaction influence emotion and behavior?

“There has been a huge change from the 1990s, when

people thought of the brain as an organ that’s more or

less isolated from the rest of the body,” Brundin said.

“Over the past 25 years, we’ve seen an explosion of

research on brain inflammation and its broad impact on

the rest of the body.”

By the time she arrived at the Institute in 2012, Brundin

already had uncovered key findings linking inflammation

and depression. She quickly teamed up with Dr. Eric

Achtyes, a psychiatrist at Pine Rest Christian Mental

Health Services, who had similar research interests.

Over the years, this collaboration has continued to

expand and yield critical new insights. In 2019, they

launched a new study to identify blood-based

biomarkers for suicide risk, hoping to develop a test that

could help physicians differentiate between people who

are likely to self-harm and those who are not, allowing for

earlier, life-saving intervention.

The project is the first study of its kind, and is a

collaboration between Brundin, Achtyes and Columbia

University Department of Psychiatry’s Dr. J. John Mann.

It is supported by a five-year, $3.6 million grant from the

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National

Institutes of Health.

“Clinicians are looking for tools to help them identify

individuals who are at highest risk for suicide among

those who are depressed,” Achtyes said. “We are hopeful

this study will help us develop these tools to better

understand who is at imminent risk.”

Later in the year, Brundin and Achtyes and colleagues

from Michigan State University College of Human

Medicine published a report that showed a runaway,

inflammatory immune response may be responsible for

triggering severe depression during and after pregnancy.

Not to be mistaken for the rapidly passing “baby blues,”

which is common right after delivery, pregnancy-related

depression is a serious medical condition that can

escalate in severity and may even require hospitalization.

One in five new mothers experience depression after

pregnancy, with symptoms beginning during pregnancy

and generally worsening after delivery. An estimated 14%

have suicidal ideation during pregnancy.

Brundin is hopeful that their efforts will soon translate

into new, effective treatment options for those with

depression.

“There already are many anti-inflammatory medications

that could possibly be repurposed to treat depression,”

she said. “The more we learn, the closer we come to

finding actionable, new ways to improve people’s lives.”

Research reported in this publication is supported by the

National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes

of Health under award no. 1R01MH118221 (Brundin,

Achtyes, Mann) and award no. R01MH104622 (Brundin). The

content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does

not necessarily represent the official views of the National

Institutes of Health.

“There are measurable biological contributors such as byproducts of chronic inflammation that influence a person’s likelihood to

develop depression or self-harm. Leveraging these markers could hold the key to helping people before it is too late.”

— DR. LENA BRUNDIN

8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


RESEARCH

What is

inflammation?

Inflammation is the immune system’s

normal reaction to harmful stimuli, such as

infection, injury or chronic disease, or

even stress.

Following one of these insults, the body

releases a cascade of white blood cells,

which produce chemicals that attempt to

remove the cause of the problem and start

the healing process.

The effects of inflammation, though

designed to help us, aren’t always pleasant.

They include increased blood flow, leading

to redness and increased heat; fluid rushing

to the area, causing swelling; and pain, a

flood of chemicals to stimulate nerves.

DR. ERIC ACHTYES & DR. LENA BRUNDIN

With their job complete, these cells stop

making these chemicals and the symptoms

of inflammation wear off. Occasionally,

however, something goes awry and the

body overproduces inflammatory chemicals

and continues producing them longer than

they are needed. If left unchecked, this

can disrupt the body’s ability to function

normally and contribute to a number of

issues, including depression and suicidal

thoughts and actions.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 9


Epigenetic ‘memories’ may provide clues to the

health of future generations

Dr. Andrew Pospisilik and Dr. Heidi Lempradl are

working on a road map to a healthier future, one that

accounts for the ripple effect our diet and lifestyle

choices may have across the generations.

“The human body has an incredible capacity to adapt to

its environment,” said Pospisilik, director of Van Andel

Institute’s Center for Epigenetics. “Evidence suggests

that the choices we make and experiences we have today

can have far-reaching implications and may even affect

predisposition to disease down the line.”

To accomplish their goal, Pospisilik and Lempradl must

untangle a highly complex, interwoven web of factors,

tracing the impact of individual variables — such as diet

or a specific genetic element — through a proverbial

Gordian knot.

“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘One parent ate a certain

type of diet, so their child will be less at risk for a specific

disease,’” said Lempradl, an assistant professor in VAI’s

Metabolic and Nutritional Programming group. “We are

complex organisms who inhabit a complex world. This

work is incredibly challenging, but if we can figure it out,

the benefits to human health will very much be worth it.”

Biological information is passed through the generations

via genetics and epigenetics. Our genetics are a biological

blueprint created by blending our parents’ genetic

information; our epigenetics are the switches that

determine when this information is used — or not.

Here’s how it works: Each of the roughly 37.2 trillion cells

in the human body contains essentially the same genetic

information encoded in our DNA. But at any given

moment, an individual cell doesn’t need to use all of

those instructions; for example, a blood cell needs only

the instructions related to its function and can ignore the

instructions that are specific to a brain cell. Epigenetics

determines when specific instructions are needed and

used by tagging DNA with special molecular marks.

But epigenetics aren’t static. They can be responsive

and play a major role in our ability to adapt to changes

in our environment. Take, for example, people who faced

the stress of war and famine brought on by the Great

Depression and World War II: These individuals likely

experienced epigenetic changes that helped their bodies

respond to that stress. These changes, reflected in the

patterns of epigenetic marks laid down on their DNA,

act like a molecular memory that is passed down to their

children. The results, depending on the changes, may

even alter predisposition to cancer, depression and other

conditions.

Recent discoveries and ongoing work in the labs of

scientists like Pospisilik and Lempradl are painting a rich

portrait of how the experiences of our ancestors have

shaped us. One day, they hope to translate what they

find into powerful preventative methods for some of our

most challenging diseases.

“We may find that cancer prevention starts even before

a person is born,” Pospisilik said. “We’re really at the

beginning of something that could radically transform

how we view health, and prevent and treat illness. The

possibilities are endless.”

“It’s not as simple as

saying, ‘One parent ate a

certain type of diet, so their

child will be less at risk for

a specific disease. We are

complex organisms who

inhabit a complex world.

This work is incredibly

challenging, but if we can

figure it out, the benefits to

human health will very much

be worth it.”

— DR. HEIDI LEMPRADL

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RESEARCH

DR. ANDREW POSPISILIK & DR. HEIDI LEMPRADL

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 11


Highlights

CENTER FOR CANCER & CELL BIOLOGY

The link between taste & neurological disorders

Understanding how the brain processes sweet, bitter and umami tastes may one

day help researchers design more effective drugs for neurological disorders. VAI’s

Dr. Juan Du and Dr. Wei Lü revealed for the first time the near atomic-level structure

of calcium homeostasis modulator 2 (CALHM2), a protein that plays critical roles

in processing taste stimuli and mitigating toxicity in brain cells. CALHM2 works by

sensing chemical and electrical changes in its environment — in the taste buds,

for example — and relaying the information back to the brain. Abnormal changes

in CALHM proteins have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other

neurological conditions; fixing these errors may help create viable treatments in the

future.

CENTER FOR NEURODEGENERATIVE SCIENCE

Collaboration & big data help redefine a rare form of dementia

In a 2019 landmark study, more than 100 scientists from around the world —

including VAI’s Dr. Rita Guerreiro and Dr. José Brás — teamed up to investigate

frontotemporal dementia, a progressive syndrome marked by shrinking of brain

regions that govern behavior and speech. FTD is a rare disease, and FTD caused by

genetic mutations is even rarer, making it especially difficult to study. Often, there

simply aren’t enough cases from which to gather sufficient data. The first-of-its-kind

study in FTD encompassed data from 3,403 individuals, and allowed scientists to

identify patterns that tied specific gene mutations to age of onset, disease duration

and age of death. This is particularly important for people and families with these

mutations, for clinicians managing FTD and for scientists developing precision

medicine approaches and methods for tracking disease progression. Findings in FTD

may also have applications in understanding other types of dementia.

CENTER FOR NEURODEGENERATIVE SCIENCE

Investigating a diabetes drug as a way to slow or stop multiple

system atrophy

Multiple system atrophy is a rare neurodegenerative disease that shuts down

the vital systems in the body, such as the ability to move, to regulate heart rate

and to digest food. In its early stages, it often is mistaken for Parkinson’s disease

and, like Parkinson’s, there is no cure. In 2019, researchers at University College

London began a pilot clinical study to see if the diabetes drug exenatide can slow

or stop progression of MSA. Exenatide has already shown promise as a possible

Parkinson’s treatment because it acts on many of the same biological pathways

affected by neurodegenerative diseases. The trial is supported by Van Andel

Institute, the Defeat MSA Alliance, the John Black Charitable Trust and the MSA

Trust.

CENTER FOR NEURODEGENERATIVE SCIENCE

Unlocking the brain’s secret code

Dr. Viviane Labrie is parsing the human genome and the epigenetic code that

regulates it in search of the root causes of neurological disorders that affect

millions around the globe. In spring 2019, she discovered a mechanism that

accelerates aging in the brain and gives rise to the most devastating features of

Alzheimer’s disease. Later, Labrie and her colleagues found a hot spot of epigenetic

marks that may fuel the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Taken together, her findings are charting new paths toward better diagnostic and

treatment methods for a trio of tough-to-treat diseases.

12 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


RESEARCH

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 13


Highlights

CENTER FOR EPIGENETICS

Helping the heart heal itself

Scientists in the DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program, led by Dr. Stefan

Jovinge, have devised a technique to sort out which heart cells can replicate and

which cannot, a critical step toward treatments that may one day help the heart

heal itself after injury. The method, published in the journal Circulation Research,

removes a significant roadblock to developing ways to regrow healthy cardiac

muscle tissue, a feat not currently possible. Earlier in the fall, the Jovinge team,

along with collaborators in Sweden and Romania, also found that blocking an

inflammatory protein after a heart attack may reduce damage and mitigate the

risk of future heart failure. This study was listed as one of the major discoveries

in the field of acute coronary syndromes in 2019 by the prestigious European

Heart Journal. Together, these two discoveries help lay the foundation for a new

generation of cardiac therapies aimed at repairing the heart without the need

for invasive surgery. The DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program is a joint effort

between Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health.

CENTER FOR EPIGENETICS

A ‘Swiss Army knife’ for fighting cancer

Blocking specific parts of a Swiss Army knife-like protein called UHRF1 switches

on hundreds of cancer-fighting genes, impairing colorectal cancer cells’ ability to

spread throughout the body. The protein is akin to a molecular Swiss Army knife

with many different paths that each have a different job. The discovery by VAI’s

Dr. Scott Rothbart and VAI and Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Stephen Baylin

comes at a particularly important time — while colorectal cancer rates have been

falling since the 1980s in older people, they are climbing in people ages 20–39.

Colorectal cancers often aren’t caught until their later stages in this younger group

because they fall below the age for annual screening. Rothbart and Baylin are

working to translate their findings into more precise therapeutic strategies that

better fight these devastating cancers and keep them from metastasizing.

CENTER FOR CANCER & CELL BIOLOGY

Breaking down osteoarthritis in search of a cure

More than 31 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint

disease caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the elastic tissue that serves as a

shock absorber between bones. Despite being incredibly common, this painful and

often debilitating condition has no cure. VAI’s Dr. Tao Yang hopes to change that by

better understanding the root cause from which osteoarthritis stems. He and his

team are investigating the complex web of overlapping biological pathways and

factors that govern skeletal health, with a special focus on a pathway related to

cellular aging.

CENTER FOR EPIGENETICS

Findings could help women with uterine fibroids avoid hysterectomy

Uterine fibroid tumors are the leading cause of hysterectomies in the U.S., yet the

mechanisms that give rise to these tumors have largely been unknown. In 2019, a

collaborative team led by Dr. Hui Shen of Van Andel Institute and Dr. Jose Teixeira

of Michigan State University College of Human Medicine found that an overactive

gene in uterine fibroids is linked to the transformation of cells in the muscle of the

uterus into cells more typically found in the cervix. This breakthrough eventually

may lead to new treatments that interfere with this abnormal process and could

help many women to avoid surgery.

CENTER FOR CANCER & CELL BIOLOGY

When studying immune cells, environment matters

For years, scientists have used cells grown in petri dishes to study the metabolic

processes that fuel the immune system. But findings from VAI’s Dr. Russell

Jones suggest that the way immune cells manage and use energy in the artificial

environment of a dish is drastically different from how it occurs in living organisms.

The discovery has far-reaching implications for how scientists study the complex,

interconnected systems that underpin health and disease and how they translate

these insights into new diagnostic and treatment strategies.

14 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Translating impact from

the lab to the clinic

Clinical trials are a critical step in a new treatment’s journey from the lab to the

doctor’s office. Through collaborations with leading scientists, physicians and

organizations in the U.S. and abroad, Van Andel Institute is supporting critical

trials designed to evaluate potentially life-saving therapies for cancer and

Parkinson’s disease.

RESEARCH

Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To

Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team

Optimizing drug combinations for

a one-two punch against cancers,

including:

• Metastatic colorectal cancer

• Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

• Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)

• Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia

(CMML)

• Non-small cell lung cancer

• Bladder (urothelial) cancer

• Liver, pancreatic, bile duct and

gallbladder cancers

• Breast cancer

Research By The Numbers

12

1

470

+

Trials launched

Trial in development

Patients

International Linked

Clinical Trials (iLCT)

Repurposing existing drugs to

shorten the development pipeline

in collaboration with The

Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

The iLCT initiative aims to identify

new therapies for Parkinson’s

disease by repurposing medications

used for other conditions, including

diabetes, high cholesterol and

respiratory ailments.

Research By The Numbers

15

10

850

+

Trials launched

Trials In development

Patients

All numbers as of March 2020

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 15


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators

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

lives of current and future generations through groundbreaking biomedical research.

LEADERSHIP

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

Chief Scientific Officer

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

is a pioneer in epigenetics, a

growing field that explores how

genes are regulated and provides

new avenues for developing

therapies for cancer and other diseases. His discoveries

have helped usher in an entirely new class of drugs that

have been approved to treat blood cancer and are being

investigated in other tumor types. Dr. Jones is a member

of the National Academy of Sciences and the American

Academy of Arts and Sciences among other prestigious

societies. He and his colleague Dr. Stephen Baylin

co-lead the Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer

Epigenetics Dream Team.

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

Associate Director of

Research;

Director, Center for

Neurodegenerative Science

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

investigates molecular

mechanisms in Parkinson’s disease with the goal

of developing new therapies aimed at slowing or

stopping disease progression and repairing damage.

He is one of the top-cited researchers in the field of

neurodegenerative disease and leads international

efforts to repurpose drugs to treat Parkinson’s.

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D.

Director, Center for

Epigenetics; Professor,

Metabolic and Nutritional

Programming, Center for

Cancer and Cell Biology

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D., seeks

to understand how we become who we become, and

how our disease susceptibility is defined from early on in

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

being able to predict lifelong health outlook at birth.

Bart Williams, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Cancer

and Cell Biology; Professor,

Skeletal Disease and Cancer

Therapeutics, Center for

Cancer and Cell Biology

Bart Williams, Ph.D., studies the

building blocks of bone growth on behalf of the millions

suffering from diseases such as osteoporosis. He seeks

new ways of altering cell signaling pathways to encourage

healthy bone development and deter the spread of

cancer to the skeleton.

Scott Jewell, Ph.D.

Director, Core Technologies

and Services

Scott Jewell, Ph.D., leads Van Andel

Institute’s Core Technologies

and Services, which provides

technology and specialized

expertise for research investigators. Services include

bioinformatics and biostatistics, cryo-EM, optical imaging,

flow cytometry, genomics, pathology and biorepository,

vivarium management and transgenics. Jewell is a past

president of the International Society for Biological and

Environmental Repositories (ISBER).

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D.

Dean, Van Andel Institute

Graduate School

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., is

the dean of Van Andel Institute

Graduate School. His lab, which

closed in 2018 after 31 years of

productive research, explored the genetic and epigenetic

control systems of viruses to understand how infections

progress and to reveal new ways to stop them. His

discoveries with herpes simplex viruses opened up

new possibilities for antiviral drug development and

revealed new insights into how human cells control gene

expression.

16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


RESEARCH

CENTER FOR EPIGENETICS

Stephen Baylin, M.D.

Director’s Scholar

Stephen Baylin, M.D., studies the

body’s genetic control systems —

called epigenetics — searching for

vulnerabilities in cancer. Baylin is a

leader in this field, ranking among

the first to trace epigenetic causes of cancer. His studies

have led to new therapies for common cancers, like

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

of the VAI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team with Dr. Peter

A. Jones, co-director of Johns Hopkins’ Cancer Biology

Division and associate director for research at Sidney

Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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

Professor, VAI; Medical Director

of Research, Spectrum Health

Frederick Meijer Heart and

Vascular Institute; Director,

DeVos Cardiovascular Research

Program (a joint effort between

Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health)

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

heart heal itself and has led dozens of clinical trials in

regenerative medicine. As a critical care cardiologist

and scientist, he uses a bench-to-bedside approach in

an effort to give patients with serious heart conditions

longer, healthier lives. The clinical platform for his

research is the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at

Spectrum Health’s Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center,

and the basic science effort in regenerative medicine is

performed at VAI.

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D.

Professor

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D., seeks

a detailed understanding of

the molecular foundations of

cancer with a particular focus

on identifying crucial epigenetic

alterations that convert otherwise healthy cells into

cancer cells. He is widely regarded as an international

leader in this effort and has helped design some of

the world’s state-of-the art tools to aid in epigenetics

research. Laird is a principal investigator for the National

Cancer Institute’s Genome Data Analysis Network and

played a leadership role in The Cancer Genome Atlas, a

multi-institutional effort to molecularly map cancers.

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.

Professor

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D., studies how

the body switches genes on and

off, a biological process called

methylation that, when faulty, can

lead to cancer or other diseases.

His studies range from the effects of tobacco smoke

on genetic and epigenetic systems to the discovery

of a mechanism that may help protect the brain from

neurodegeneration. Pfeifer’s studies have implications

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

diabetes and many others.

Center for Epigenetics

Epigenetic mechanisms control how

DNA is used, how organisms form, and

how cells switch particular genes “on”

or “off” to determine form and function.

Errors in these intricate processes

play major roles in the development

of diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s,

diabetes and heart disease.

Scientists in the Center for Epigenetics

investigate the role of epigenetics

in health and disease, with the goal

of developing new prevention and

treatment strategies for diseases that

affect millions of people around

the world.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 17


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D., studies

the ways in which cells pack

and unpack DNA. This complex

process twists and coils roughly

two meters of unwound DNA into

a space less than one-tenth the width of a human hair.

Although this process is impressive, it is also subject

to errors that can cause cancer and other disorders.

Rothbart seeks new targets for drug development in

this process.

Hui Shen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Hui Shen, Ph.D., develops new

approaches to cancer prevention,

detection and treatment by studying

the interaction between genes

and their control systems, called

epigenetics. Her research focuses on women’s cancers,

particularly ovarian cancer, and has shed new light on the

underlying mechanisms of other cancer types, including

breast, kidney and prostate cancers.

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.

Professor

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D., investigates

the mechanisms that regulate

DNA and gene expression in an

effort to better understand how

they impact cancer development.

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D., studies the

flow of epigenetic information

from parents to their offspring,

with a focus on how epigenetic

markers are remodeled during

egg and sperm production and how these markers

are rewritten after fertilization. These processes

have profound implications for fertility and embryo

development. Disturbances in epigenetic remodeling are

thought to contribute to disease conditions lasting well

into adulthood.

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

Assistant Professor

As a statistician and computational

biologist with an interest in clonal

evolution and cancers of the

blood, Tim Triche, Jr.’s, Ph.D., work

focuses on wedding data-intensive

molecular phenotyping to adaptive clinical trial designs

in an effort to accelerate the pace of drug targeting and

development in rare or refractory diseases.

Hong Wen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Hong Wen, Ph.D., investigates

the fundamental mechanisms

of pediatric cancers caused

by dysregulation of epigenetic

regulators, in hopes of developing

new, improved therapies for these devastating diseases.

CENTER FOR NEURODEGENERATIVE SCIENCE

José Brás, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Dr. José Brás is a molecular

geneticist whose research focuses

on how variations in our genes

impact the onset and progression

of neurodegenerative diseases

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

Lewy bodies.

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

Associate Professor

As a psychiatrist and a scientist,

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

seeks ways to diagnose and

treat depression and suicidality

by studying inflammation of

the nervous system. Her findings may lead to earlier

interventions for depressive patients and to the

development of a new class of antidepressants that

targets the immune system. She also investigates how

inflammatory mechanisms can damage nerve cells in

Parkinson’s disease.

Hong-Yuan Chu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Hong-Yuan Chu, Ph.D., investigates

how and why dopamine-producing

cells die off in Parkinson’s, a

process that underlies many of

the disease’s hallmark symptoms.

He plans to leverage this new knowledge to develop new,

more precise ways to slow or stop disease progression.

18 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


RESEARCH

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D.

Professor

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D., searches

the human genome for minuscule

changes that contribute to the

onset, progression and drug

resistance of many diseases,

including cancer, Parkinson’s, and rare and heritable

disorders. His team deploys genome sequencing

technologies and high-powered computational arrays

to tease out patterns and interactions of markers and

treatment targets from among the human genome’s more

than 3 billion DNA base pairs.

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D., is a

neurogeneticist who studies

the genomic contributors to

neurodegenerative diseases such

as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s

disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Viviane Labrie, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Viviane Labrie, Ph.D., studies

the dynamic interplay between

the human genome and

its control system — the

epigenome — to understand

how neurodegenerative diseases start and progress

in an effort to develop improved diagnostics and

treatments. Labrie’s scientific pursuits have deepened

the understanding of conditions including Parkinson’s,

Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and lactose intolerance. She

has also developed new methods for epigenome analysis.

Darren Moore, Ph.D.

Professor

Darren Moore, Ph.D., seeks

new diagnostic and treatment

approaches for Parkinson’s by

investigating the inherited form of

the disease, which accounts for

5% to 10% of cases. He aims to translate the

understanding of these genetic mutations into better

treatments and new diagnostic tools for Parkinson’s,

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

lab routinely elucidate the faulty molecular interactions

that transform healthy, functioning neurons into

diseased ones.

CENTER FOR CANCER AND CELL BIOLOGY

Skeletal Disease and Cancer Therapeutics

Bart Williams, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Cancer

and Cell Biology; Professor,

Skeletal Disease and Cancer

Therapeutics, Center for

Cancer and Cell Biology

Bart Williams, Ph.D., studies the

building blocks of bone growth on behalf of the millions

suffering from diseases such as osteoporosis. He seeks

new ways of altering cell signaling pathways to encourage

healthy bone development and deter the spread of

cancer to the skeleton.

Center for

Neurodegenerative

Science

Scientists in the Center for

Neurodegenerative Science are

investigating the factors that

contribute to Parkinson’s disease

and working to translate these

findings into new therapies that

slow or stop disease progression —

something no current treatment can

do. The Center also is investigating

other diseases caused by progressive

damage to the brain, including

Alzheimer’s disease and multiple

system atrophy (MSA), as well as the

biological basis of depression.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 19


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators

Xiaohong Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Xiaohong Li, Ph.D., studies how and

why various cancers, particularly

prostate and breast cancer cells,

migrate from their original site

and spread to the bone. These

cells stay dormant but might wake up years later and

grow to become bone metastases, causing debilitating

pain and complicating treatment. Li hopes that a better

understanding of metastatic cancers will lead to new

diagnostic tests and targeted therapies.

Matt Steensma, M.D.

Associate Professor

Matt Steensma, M.D., studies the

genetic and molecular factors

that cause benign tumors to

become cancers in order to find

vulnerabilities that may be targeted

for treatment. As a scientist at VAI and a practicing surgeon

at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital,

he is committed to translating scientific discoveries into

treatments that improve patients’ lives.

Tao Yang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Tao Yang, Ph.D., studies the

signaling systems that govern

skeletal stem cells and the role

they play in diseases such as

osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Bones are the largest producer of adult stem cells, which

mature into cartilage, fat or bone tissue — a process that

falters with age. Yang seeks a better understanding of

these systems in search of new treatments for degenerative

bone disorders.

20 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019

Structural Biology

Huilin Li, Ph.D.

Program Leader and Professor

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

microscopy (cryo-EM) to reveal

the most basic building blocks of

DNA replication and other systems

vital for life. He has been at the

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

research has implications for some of the world’s most

critical public health concerns, including tuberculosis,

cancer, mental illness and many more.

Juan Du, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Juan Du, Ph.D., seeks to

understand the brain’s intricate

communication systems using

state-of-the-art structural biology

approaches, such as cryo-EM.

Her work has expanded knowledge of these important

systems and may aid in development of new therapies in

the future.

Wei Lü, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Wei Lü, Ph.D., is working to unravel

how brain cells communicate

with each other. Using techniques

such as cryo-EM, his work

has contributed to the field’s

understanding of molecules that play crucial roles in the

development and function of the nervous system.

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D.

Professor

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D., studies

molecular structure and cellular

communication, which have

implications for finding new

treatments for serious health

threats, including cancer, diabetes and obesity. His

expertise extends beyond human cells — his research

into plant hormones may one day lead to heartier crops

that resist drought and help meet the nutritional demands

of a growing global population.

Metabolic and Nutritional Programming

Russell Jones, Ph.D.

Program Leader and Professor

Russell Jones, Ph.D., investigates

metabolism at the cellular level

to understand how it affects cell

behavior and health, with a specific

eye on cancer and the immune

system. By revealing how cancer cells use metabolic

processes to fuel their growth and spread, he hopes to

develop new treatments that help patients by changing

the standard of care for cancer.


RESEARCH

Brian Haab, Ph.D.

Professor; Assistant Dean,

Van Andel Institute Graduate

School

Brian Haab, Ph.D., searches for

new ways to diagnose and stratify

pancreatic cancers based on the

chemical fingerprints tumors leave behind. Part of the

problem Haab aims to solve is that cancers often look

and behave normally — until after they’ve started making

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

of diagnostic tools that will help providers diagnose

tumors earlier and optimize treatment.

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.,

investigates the links between

metabolism, epigenetics and the

immune system, with the goal

of understanding how they work

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

promote disease.

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D., is

investigating how the dietary

choices of parents may impact

the health of their offspring in

the hopes of translating her

findings into new ways to prevent disease and create a

healthier future.

Ning Wu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Ning Wu, Ph.D., investigates

the interface between cellular

metabolism and cellular signaling,

particularly as they relate to

cancer. On the most basic level,

cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell growth, and Wu

believes that understanding a tumor’s voracious energy

requirements and altered signaling pathways will lead

to new treatments that optimize existing combination

therapies and identify novel therapeutic targets.

EMERITUS FACULTY

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scientific

Fellow, Emeritus

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.,

is a titan in cancer biology.

He is the founding research

director, and led the Institute’s

research efforts for a decade. His discovery and

description of the MET receptor tyrosine kinase as an

oncogene, together with its activating ligand hepatocyte

growth factor, have led to new possibilities for cancer

therapies and revolutionized the way scientists view the

disease, especially in tumor progression. He is a member

of the National Academy of Sciences.

Center for Cancer and

Cell Biology

Scientists in the Institute’s Center for

Cancer and Cell Biology investigate

the mechanisms that give rise to

diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis,

osteoarthritis, diabetes and rare

disorders such neurofibromatosis

type 1 with the goal of developing

better diagnostics and treatments.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 21


In 2019, Van Andel Institute Graduate School welcomed

its largest, most international cohort

To understand how Leena Kariapper first became

interested in science, you have to go way back.

Kariapper, who was born in Sri Lanka but grew up in

Saudi Arabia, was one of those kids who would pick up

a grasshopper just to study it under a magnifying glass.

Once, an uncle gave her a toy microscope — the kind

you can plug into a computer to get a good look at your

specimens. She wasted no time going home and finding

tiny things that she could examine.

But it was in eighth grade when Kariapper first

encountered the science that would launch future

academic and professional pursuits: molecular and

cellular biology.

“I had a really good biology teacher who was explaining

the world of molecular biology and how DNA

replication works, and I remember she drew it up on

this chalkboard and I was just hooked,” Kariapper said.

“I knew at that moment this was a field I wanted to

explore deeper.”

Fast forward, and Kariapper is a member of

Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s largest and

most international cohort: 10 students representing

five nations, including Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom,

Russia, the Netherlands and the U.S. including Puerto

Rico. Together, in fall 2019, they embarked on a fiveyear

journey toward a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular

biology.

The size and diversity of the cohort embodies an

intentional growth strategy put in place by Graduate

School leadership to raise visibility domestically and

internationally, to bolster student numbers, and to

promote diverse perspectives among its student body.

“We have worked very deliberately over the years to

attract a highly qualified and diverse field of applicants,

and each new cohort offers proof that our efforts are

bearing fruit,” said Graduate School Dean Dr. Steven

J. Triezenberg. “Our Institute and our community are

enriched by the different personal and academic

backgrounds each student brings with them to VAI.”

These efforts have been helped in no small part by the

work of the Graduate School’s Director of Enrollment and

Records Christy Mayo. Mayo attends graduate school fairs

across the country and online; in fact, it was through a

virtual graduate school fair that Kariapper first met Mayo

and became aware of the opportunities at the Graduate

School.

The Graduate School also benefits from using the

Centralized Application Service for Biomedical Science

Programs, or BioMedCAS, which lets students apply

to multiple biomedical science graduate programs

simultaneously. Mayo said BioMedCAS has led many

prospective students to learn about VAIGS and then to

apply for admission to the program.

“We put a lot of effort into reaching a broad cross-section

of students,” Mayo said. “We strongly encourage anyone

searching for a rigorous Ph.D. program in molecular and

cellular biology to learn how they can contribute to the

world-class science happening right here at the Institute.”

To learn more about the Graduate School, visit vaigs.vai.org.

Van Andel Institute

Graduate School

develops future

leaders in biomedical

research through an

intense, problemfocused

Ph.D. degree

in molecular and

cellular biology.

DR. CARRIE GRAVEEL (SECOND FROM LEFT) EXAMINES

RESULTS WITH VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE GRADUATE

SCHOOL PH.D. CANDIDATES MENUSHA ARUMUGAM,

RACHEL HOUSE & JAMIE GRIT

22 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


RESEARCH

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 23


Highlights

GRADUATE SCHOOL

Dean leads cancer consortium

Van Andel Institute Graduate School Dean Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., was elected

as president of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium. CABTRAC is a national

organization dedicated to training the next generation of cancer scientists. As

president, Triezenberg will spearhead development of the CABTRAC 2020 annual

meeting hosted by Vanderbilt University, as well as support programmatic

committees focused on diversity, training grants, curriculum development,

postdoctoral training and medical school curriculum. He began his term at the

CABTRAC 2019 meeting in October 2019. Triezenberg joined VAI in 2006 as a

professor and founding dean of the Graduate School. He is a respected authority

in viral biology. For 31 years, his lab explored the molecular control systems that

allow viral infections to progress. Triezenberg’s discoveries with herpes simplex

virus opened new possibilities for antiviral drug development and revealed new

insights into how human cells control gene expression.

Graduate student statistics

Fall 2019 Cohort

6 Domestic

1 Underrepresented minority

4 International

GRADUATE SCHOOL

Student earns career development award

Van Andel Institute Graduate School Ph.D. student Robert Vaughan earned a

prestigious Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award from the National

Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The award, also known as the

F99/K00, provides continuous support for outstanding research Ph.D. candidates

through the completion of their dissertation research training into mentored,

cancer-focused postdoctoral career development research positions. This unique

fellowship — the first awarded to a student of the Graduate School — is intended

to support students recognized by their institutions for their high potential and

strong interest in pursuing careers as independent cancer researchers. The award

will help Vaughan develop his skills in analyzing genomic and epigenomic data,

with hands-on training from VAI’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Core.

5.29 Median years to degree

65% Completion rate for Ph.D.

73% Completion rate for M.S. and Ph.D.

24 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


RESEARCH

By Career Type

(Current Position, 2007–2014 cohorts)

Primarily Research

62%

Science-related

Primarily Teaching

Further Training or Education

14%

5%

19%

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

By Job Sector

(Current Position, 2007–2014 cohorts)

Nonprofit

29%

For-Profit

19%

Academia

52%

0 10 20 30 40 50 60

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 25


Van Andel Institute for Education

is dedicated to creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity

and critical thinking thrive.

26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 27


Blue Apple brings project-based learning to

life for teachers, students

Van Andel Institute for Education underscored its

commitment to creating classrooms where curiosity,

creativity and critical thinking thrive with the launch

of its Blue Apple project-based learning initiative in

summer 2019.

Blue Apple is an innovative way to bring project-based

learning to life for teachers and their students. Each

Blue Apple project is a self-contained unit that includes

the materials needed to immerse students in a crossdisciplinary

learning experience that develops their

understanding in science, social studies, English language

arts, math and social-emotional learning.

For example, in “Prevent the Spread,” students learn

how to stop germs in their tracks by learning how they

proliferate. By testing disinfectants, students also learn

methods to combat the spread of illnesses. Ultimately,

the students use what they’ve learned to create a public

service announcement encouraging people to practice

good hygiene and protect against germs.

“Student engagement is the key to student achievement,

so each Blue Apple project is designed to help teachers

create learning experiences that are memorable,

meaningful, and fun,” said VAI Chief Education Officer

Terra Tarango. “We are equipping and empowering

educators everywhere with the tools they need to bring

authentic, project-based learning to life.”

The Institute partnered with educators across the country

to develop 10 Blue Apple projects. These teacher-authors

spent hours refining and implementing their projects,

ensuring that each is already classroom-tested and

student-approved by the time it is made available for

wider adoption as an official Blue Apple project.

The Institute also partnered with industry experts

to infuse these learning experiences with real-world

connections. Whether it’s listening to a video from an

infectious disease expert or sharing their PSAs with

an advertiser, Blue Apple helps students interact with

authentic audiences to address actual challenges and

opportunities in today’s world.

By the end of 2019, classrooms across the nation had

adopted a total of 220 Blue Apple projects, and 100% of

educators reported their Blue Apple project increased

students’ creative and critical thinking.

To learn more about Blue Apple, visit blueappleteacher.org. To

learn more about Van Andel Institute for Education,

visit vaei.vai.org.

Impact of Blue Apple Projects

Increased creative & critical thinking

Increased student engagement

Helped students make the world a better place

Effectively integrated core content

Helped improve professional practice

Helped make efficient use of planning time

Likely to do another project

100%

95%

90%

95%

95%

80%

80%

28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Science on the Grand 2019 shined a

spotlight on inquiry-based education

EDUCATION

The second annual Science on the Grand conference brought more than 130

teachers and educational professionals together at Van Andel Institute in

July 2019.

First held in 2018, the two-day conference is designed to honor the teaching profession

and provide educators with interactive sessions aimed at creating and maintaining

classroom cultures that support science, technology, engineering, art and math.

The conference emphasized inquiry-based learning, a principle that lies at the root

of Van Andel Institute for Education’s K–12 programs. With content curated by the

Institute’s expert team of educators, Science on the Grand sent attendees home with

research-based and classroom-tested strategies that address the demands of content

standards as well as the 21st century skills needed to succeed in today’s workplaces.

“The biggest draw for me is the chance to meet other educators who share a passion for

the STEM fields, and who I can continue to connect with and learn from even after the

conference ends,” said 2019 presenter Andy Losik, a STEM teacher in Hamilton, Michigan,

who has taught technology at the elementary level for the past two decades. “There’s

an amazing cadre of presenters, and the conference strikes the perfect balance so that

you’re always learning and connecting and growing, but you don’t feel overwhelmed or

under pressure. It was incredible.”

With workshops ranging from coding for teachers and implementing games into social

studies lessons, the 2019 conference was full of fun and innovative experiences. Another

big draw for participants was Pitch Tank, where educators were invited to submit their

ideas on how they would use $5,000 to transform their classroom. Five finalists were

invited to present their “pitch” to a panel of judges — including local radio personality

Michelle McKormick — and a live audience on the first night of the conference. Because

all the finalists made compelling arguments for their pitch, each of them was awarded a

portion of the prize money.

Science on the Grand is a perfect example of the many ways the Institute supports

teachers with the goal of helping create classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical

thinking thrive.

To learn more about VAI’s education programs, including teacher and student-focused events

and resources, visit vaei.org.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 29


Field trips, summer camps drive strong

growth in VAI student programs

Van Andel Institute for Education capped a strong

year of growth in its K–12 student programming,

serving 2,608 students in 2019 and rolling out a

number of enhancements to popular offerings like

field trips and summer camps.

The number of students served increased 82% over

the year prior, a figure driven by greater enrollment in

the Institute’s summer camps and expanded field trip

offerings that included the addition of mobile field trips.

The Institute’s student programs are designed to

advance and promote cutting-edge K–12 education

concepts and equip students with the skills to

successfully navigate the workplace of tomorrow.

“We strive to offer programs that empower students

with a lifelong love of learning, and we’re thrilled to see

more and more people taking part in these learning

experiences,” said VAI Chief Education Officer Terra

Tarango. “The growth this year has been phenomenal,

and it’s a testament to how influential these programs

are in our students’ lives.”

Here are some highlights:

Summer camps

Four summer camps were added in 2019. This included

the wildly popular, Harry Potter-themed camp,

“Hogwarts in Grand Rapids: The Science Behind the

Magic.” Students were sorted into Hogwarts houses,

made wands and attended courses like “Potions,”

“Caring for Magical Creatures” and “Herbology.”

Summer camp enrollment increased to 240 in 2019 from

135 in 2018, a 78% increase. It was the third year the

Institute hosted student summer camps.

Afterschool cohort

The Institute hosts two cohorts each semester for

students in grades 4–6. Topics vary each semester.

In 2019, Education expanded its afterschool cohort

offerings, adding programs that focus on innovation in

the areas of space exploration, natural disasters and

energy.

In the fall, students participated in “Biomedical

Explorers,” which examined genetic diversity, and

“Disaster Detectives,” which explored natural disasters

and their impact on humans. One hundred percent of

students in each cohort reported that the programs

increased their understanding of science and/or

engineering.

Field trips

Education expanded its catalog of science, engineering

and robotics field trips in 2019; in all, more than three

dozen field trips were available to students and teachers.

The Institute also began offering mobile field trips that

bring VAI educators on-location to schools.

Field trips offered by the Institute are designed to

immerse students and their teachers in learning about

science through inquiry. Students conduct unique,

grade-specific investigations and participate in hands-on

discovery.

To learn more about Van Andel Institute for Education’s

student programs, visit vaei.vai.org/student-programs.

“The growth this year has been

phenomenal, and it’s a testament

to how influential these programs

are in our students’ lives.”

— Terra Tarango

30 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


EDUCATION

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 31


Events & Philanthropy

Van Andel Institute’s donors and philanthropic partners are

connected by a shared sense of commitment to the Institute’s

mission. Their creativity, passion and dedication have helped the

Institute become a thriving center for biomedical research and K–12

education. Van Andel Institute’s signature events are an important

catalyst for scientific innovation, bringing community members

together in support of research and educational initiatives that give

people hope for a healthier future.

32 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 33


Winterfest

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT,

GOING CLOCKWISE)

CAROL VAN ANDEL, TONY GATES

& DAVID VAN ANDEL; GEORGE

SHARPE JR., WINTERFEST

COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR, SPEAKS

TO EVENT GUESTS; AB GETTING

THE PARTY STARTED; DELICIOUSLY

COLORFUL WINTERFEST DESSERTS;

VAI SCIENTISTS DR. LENA BRUNDIN

& DR. VIVIANE LABRIE

34 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Connection Breakfast

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT,

GOING CLOCKWISE)

DR. JOSÉ BRÁS; GUESTS ENJOYING

BREAKFAST; DR. RITA GUERREIRO;

TERRA TARANGO

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 35


Carol Van Andel Angel of Excellence

Dinner & Award Presentation

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE)

SALLY SCHAAFSMA; JERRY DEBLAAY,

CAROL VAN ANDEL & KAREN DEBLAAY; JEFF &

STEPHANIE BATTERSHALL; KIRK GIBSON &

CAROL VAN ANDEL; MEMBERS OF THE

BEA ALDRINK IDEMA FOUNDATION

36 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Board of Governors Dinner

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE)

CAROL VAN ANDEL; BETH VAN PORTFLIET

& LYNETTE ELLIS; DAVID VAN ANDEL;

DR. PETER A. JONES’ PRESENTATION

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 37


Purple Community Celebration

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) DR. HUI SHEN;

WOOD TV’S MARANDA WITH PURPLE COMMUNITY TEAM MEMBERS

ASHLEY OWEN & MCKENZIE HOLLERN; TERRA TARANGO;

MICHELLE LUNN GOLF COMMITTEE

38 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Around the World

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE)

CAROL VAN ANDEL, TERRA TARANGO &

DAVID VAN ANDEL; A BARTENDER POURS A

SELECTION FROM THE ARRAY OF ARTISAN WINES;

CHRIS & ALYSSA NANCE; EVENT GUESTS PERUSING

THE SILENT AUCTION

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 39


Curiosity Hour

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING

CLOCKWISE) KIDS EXPERIMENT WITH FOSSILS

AT THE CAN YOU DIG IT STATION; GUESTS

COOL DOWN AT THE KONA ICE TRUCK; TOBY

THE TORTOISE IN HER HABITAT; TESTING

STRUCTURE DESIGNS AT THE SHAKE, SHAKE,

SHAKE STATION; KIDS THINK LIKE ENGINEERS

TO BUILD STABLE STRUCTURES

40 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


VAI Golf Outing

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE)

JACK DOLES, MIKE KNUBLE, DAVID VAN ANDEL &

KYLE VAN ANDEL; THE TITLE SPONSOR GROUP

ENJOYING THE DAY; THE SILENT AUCTION

TABLE FEATURING A VARIETY OF RED WINGS

MERCHANDISE SIGNED BY MIKE KNUBLE;

CAROL VAN ANDEL & SUSAN SHAW; SPECIAL

GUEST MIKE KNUBLE DISCUSSES THE

IMPORTANCE OF THE INSTITUTE’S MISSION

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 41


Couture for a Cure

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) CAROL VAN ANDEL SHARES

THE INSTITUTE’S LASTEST RESEARCH UPDATES; A MODEL WALKS THE

RUNWAY; FEATURED DESIGNER VICTORIA HAYES, LEIGH’S OWNER

REBECCA WIERDA, SCOTT WIERDA & LEIGH’S SALES MANAGER JOANNA

HADJIYANIS; GUESTS ENJOY AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT VICTORIA HAYES’

FALL/WINTER ‘19 COLLECTION; CAROL VAN ANDEL WITH JANE ZWIERS

& YOUNG SUPPORTERS OF THE INSTITUTE FROM HOPE COLLEGE;

AMWAY’S CANDACE MATTHEWS EMCEES THE EVENT; THE ARTISTRY

BEAUTY LOUNGE FEATURING HAIR & MAKEUP TOUCHUPS

42 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Hope on the Hill — A Night in Wonderland

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE)

JEFFERY ROBERTS, CAROL VAN ANDEL & DAVID

VAN ANDEL; GUESTS BID ON EXCITING PACKAGES

AT THE SILENT AUCTION TABLE; VAI’S DR. HEIDI

LEMPRADL ENJOYS A CARD TRICK; THE CHESHIRE

CAT SMILES AT GUESTS AS THEY CELEBRATE THE

EVENING; PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON ENTERTAINS

THE AUDIENCE WITH HIS UNIQUE PERFORMANCE

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 43


A Conversation About Metabolism & Nutrition

Hosted By Carol Van Andel

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) VAI’S CHIEF SCIENTIFIC

OFFICER DR. PETER A. JONES MINGLING WITH GUESTS; DR. RUSSELL JONES,

DR. CONNIE KRAWCZYK & WOOD TV’S MARANDA; CAROL VAN ANDEL

HOSTING THE EVENT; GUESTS NETWORK BEFORE THE EVENT

44 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Signature special event sponsors

We are grateful to have extraordinarily dedicated signature event sponsors.

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

PHILANTHROPY

ACH + Hospitality, Hyatt Place,

AC Hotels Marriott

Dennis & Barbara Adama

Advanced Family Chiropractic

Center

Alliance Beverage

Amway

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Anonymous

Applied Imaging

Aon

Aquinas College

Atwater Brewery GR

Autocam Medical

B-93

B.D.’s BBQ

Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Chad Bassett

BDT & Company, LLC

Belwith Products

Bengtson Center for Aesthetics

& Plastic Surgery

Betz Industries

BHS Insurance

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi

Dave & Jill Bielema

Bluewater Technologies

Chuck & Christine Boelkins

BRAVO

Buist Electric

Butcher’s Union

Calamos Investments

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan

Cancer & Hematology Centers

of Western Michigan

Carnelian Energy Capital

Cascade Rental

Center for Physical Rehabilitation

CityFlatsHotel

Cheeky Strut

Classic Race Management

Colliers International

Consumers Credit Union

Cork Wine & Grille

Cornerstone University

Crowe LLP

Mimi Cummings

Cumulus Media

Tom & Tracy Curran

Custer Inc.

CWD Real Estate Investment

D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare

& Forest Hills Foods

Davenport University

David & Carol Van Andel Family

Foundation

Deloitte

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh

Jeff & Mary Dixon

Divani

DJ Grant Miller

Eastern Floral

Edward Jones

Eenhoorn, LLC

Eileen DeVries Family Foundation

Ellis Parking Company

Emmanuel Hospice

Erhardt Construction

Eurest

FastSigns

Ferris Coffee & Nut Co.

Fifth Third Bank

First National Bank

Foremost Insurance Company

Fred L. Hansen Corporation

Gallagher Insurance

Gazelle Sports

Give ‘Em A Break Safety

Grand Rapids Christian Schools

Grand Valley State University

Greenridge Realty, Inc.

Martin & Peggy Greydanus

Groove City Events

Gun Lake Investments

Jana Hall

Harvey Automotive of Grand

Rapids

HealthBridge

Ben & Molly Hunting

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate

Dave & Donna Hockstra

Hope College

Hope Network

Howard Miller

Huizenga Group

Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy

Bill & Starr Humphries

Ice Sculptures, LTD

ICN Foundation

iHeart Media

Independent Bank

Jandernoa Foundation

Jeffery Roberts Design

John Hancock Retirement Plan

Services

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones

Julie & Dan Horning Family

FUN’d

Kent County Medical Society

Alliance

Craig & Debra Kinney

Kitchen 67

Al & Robin Koop

Blake & Mary Krueger

Lake Michigan Credit Union

Ray & Jeannine Lanning

Leigh’s

Leo’s

Life EMS Ambulance

Lighthouse Group

Gary & Vicky Ludema

Macatawa Bank

Making the Turn Against

Parkinson’s

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation

Hospital

Mary Free Bed YMCA

McAlvey Merchant & Associates

McShane & Bowie, P.L.C.

Meijer

Meijer Foundation

Deb Meijer

Mercy Health

Merrill Lynch — Veldheer, Long,

Mackay & Bernecker Group

Metro Health — University of

Michigan Health

Metro Health Sports Medicine

MGD Technologies, Inc.

Michael J. Murdock

Oppenheimer & Co.

Michelle Crumback Jewelry

Michigan Paving & Materials Co.

Michigan State University —

College of Human Medicine

Midwest Capital Advisors, LLC

Mike & Rachel Mraz

Millennial Guru

MLive Media Group

Modern Day Collective

New Holland Brewing

Norris Perne & French, LLP

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Orthopaedic Associates of

Michigan

Matt & Beth Osterhaven

Owens-Ames-Kimball Co.

Lee & Alexandra Perez

Perper Design Associates, Inc.

Peter C. & Emajean Cook

Foundation

Pine Rest

Pioneer Construction

Pitsch Company

PL Capital, LLC

Plastic Surgery Associates

Priority Health

Quality Air Service, Inc.

Reds at Thousand Oaks

Regal Financial Group LLC.

Rehmann

Renew Family Dental

Reserve Wine & Food

Tom & Brenda Rinks

ROAM

Robert Barcelona — Merrill

Lynch

Rocket Science

Rockford Construction

RoMan Manufacturing Inc.

Ron’s Beans

Eve Rogus & Paul Becker

John & Therese Rowerdink

Rowerdink Inc.

San Chez Bistro

Scott Group Studio

Secrest Wardle

Tony & Dawn Semple

Dan Shapiro & Joe Mangini

Slows Bar BQ

Sobie Meats

Spectrum Health

Rob & Susan Stafford

Steelcase

Stephen Klotz Family Foundation

Suburban Landscapes

Summit Point Roofing

Sweetie-licious Bakery

Taconic Charitable Foundation

Terra

Thacker Sleight

The Chop House

The John Dykema & Michele

Maly-Dykema Family Foundation

The Meijer Foundation

The Peter & Joan Secchia Family

Foundation

The Sharpe Collection

The Steve & Amy Van Andel

Foundation

Thomas S. Fox Family

Thomas & Mary Stuit

Todd Wenzel Automotive

Townsquare Media

Trillium Investments

US Bank

Sharon Van Dellen

Mike & Michelle Van Dyke

Van Eerden Food Service

Company

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet

Brian & Lori Vander Baan

Versiti

Vintage Prime & Seafood

Waddell & Reed

Mike & Bonnie Walters

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP

Wells Fargo

West Michigan Woman

Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak

Dr. Bart & Wendy Williams

Greg & Meg Willit

Wolverine Worldwide

Women’s Lifestyle

YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids

Zip Xpress, Inc.

Jim & Jane Zwiers

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 45


Dr. George Vande Woude: A life lived in science

DR. GEORGE VANDE WOUDE

If you ask Van Andel Institute’s Founding Research

Director Dr. George Vande Woude about his uncle

Henny, he’ll tell you that he was a prizefighter who

could lift a barrel of beer over his head with one arm.

He’ll also tell you that Henny changed his life.

“My uncle said, ‘I’ll get you a summer job and it’ll pay

good money, but if you take it, you have to promise me

that you’ll go back to school,” Vande Woude recalled.

When Vande Woude was 18, his uncle made good on his

promise, and the young man started work as a union

beer truck delivery man in Queens, New York. It was

hard work, but that job, along with help from the G.I. Bill

of Rights from his earlier Army service, funded Vande

Woude’s first degree at Hofstra University — and gave

the world one of the great pioneers of cancer research.

“My giving is a testament to

the work of the Institute’s

scientists, and I really try

and give as much as I can to

support the Institute as it

continues to take its mission

out into the rest of the world.”

— Dr. George Vande Woude

After earning his Ph.D. from Rutgers University, Vande

Woude held a number of prestigious posts before

coming to Grand Rapids. He spent eight years at the

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal

Disease Center followed by stints as research director

of the Basic Research Program at the National Cancer

Institute’s Cancer Research and Development Center,

and as director for NCI’s Division of Basic Sciences.

During his tenure at NCI, Vande Woude explored the

origins of cancer on the molecular level and discovered

the human MET oncogene and proto-oncogene —

advances that led to the development of new, targeted

cancer therapies.

One day in 1998, Vande Woude got a call about a new

research institute opening in Michigan. He would have

the chance to help build it from the ground up. He

accepted and began recruiting talented, young scientists

from across the country to work at VAI. His exhaustive

efforts in those early days laid a strong foundation for

VAI and helped grow the Institute into a world-class

biomedical research organization.

Vande Woude stepped down as research director

in 2009 to focus on his laboratory. Today, he is a VAI

Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Emeritus, and continues

to provide the Institute’s leadership with guidance. Vande

Woude and his late wife, Dot, were active, generous VAI

donors for years. George, whose support continues to

this day, believes strongly in the ability of philanthropy

to support groundbreaking research into cancer and

neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.

“Philanthropy plays a major role in any research

program,” Vande Woude said. “My giving is a testament

to the work of the Institute’s scientists, and I really try

and give as much as I can to support the Institute as

it continues to take its mission out into the rest of the

world.”

As a man who has lived his life in science for more than

six decades, Vande Woude glows when asked what his

favorite part about being a scientist, and states without

missing a beat: “All of it.”

46 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Supporting Parkinson’s research

today, because of tomorrow

PHILANTHROPY

It all started with a tremor.

Richard Nelson, a father of three, loving husband and

successful sales manager, noticed a small shake in his hand.

At first, he didn’t think much of it, and continued to live

his life. Then, 12 years ago, that tremor was diagnosed as

Parkinson’s disease, and Richard and his wife, Paula, had to

come to terms with the reality that their life had changed.

“I was in denial that I had Parkinson’s for a long time,”

Richard said. “I just convinced myself that it wasn’t that bad.”

“As donors, we are always looking at

the bigger picture, and we’re confident

that this incredible research will

benefit people down the road who are

fighting this disease as well.”

— Paula Nelson

When the Nelsons began looking for Parkinson’s patient

resources in West Michigan, they learned about Van Andel

Institute’s annual Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease

symposium. They attended Rallying to the Challenge, a

meeting within the symposium for people with Parkinson’s

and hosted in collaboration with The Cure Parkinson’s

Trust. While there, they heard VAI’s Director of the Center

for Neurodegenerative Science, Dr. Patrik Brundin, speak.

After hearing about the Institute’s research, the Nelsons

knew they wanted to do something to support Dr. Brundin

and his work at the Institute.

“Dr. Brundin’s passion for what he does creates a

contagious level of excitement,” Paula said. “I really feel that

Van Andel Institute is one of best kept secrets in Grand

Rapids, and I wish people had a better understanding

about how lucky we are to have people like Dr. Brundin

working in our community.”

In addition to attending the Institute’s Parkinson’s-focused

events, the Nelsons are generous donors who believe in

RICHARD & PAULA NELSON

the power of research to impact the lives of people who are

battling a disease that affects millions of people worldwide.

“As donors, we are always looking at the bigger picture,”

Paula said, “and we’re confident that this incredible

research will benefit people down the road who are fighting

this disease as well.”

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 47


Student Ambassadors make their mark with

Van Andel Institute Purple Community

HOLLY BARKER (RIGHT) & HER MOTHER, AUDREY, STRIKE A POSE

AT RUNWAY FOR RIBBONS

Holly Barker has a passion for helping others. When

she was an eighth grader at Duncan Lake Middle School

in Caledonia, Michigan, Barker organized and hosted a

fashion show to coincide with the school’s annual Cancer

Walk. The event raised $2,000 with the help of big-name

sponsors like American Eagle, Macy’s, Men’s Wearhouse

and Meijer that pitched in after appeals from Barker

herself.

Barker’s drive to build a new philanthropic event from the

ground up is what helped earn her a spot in Van Andel

Institute Purple Community’s inaugural class of Student

Ambassadors for the 2019–20 school year. She was

thrilled to be part of the new program, which brings

together student leaders from West Michigan high

schools to learn critical philanthropic skills like event

planning, fundraising, community engagement and

teambuilding.

“The Student Ambassador

program really helped me learn

how to prioritize tasks, to

always have a backup plan and

to always be flexible in how you

reach your goals.”

— Holly Barker

“Getting to help and support people in the community,

while also learning new skills myself, has been amazing,”

said Barker. “We get to work with so many incredible

people, all while supporting research into cancer and

other diseases being studied at VAI.”

The Student Ambassadors’ goal was to plan and host a

new event to raise funds for the Institute’s research and

education programs. The students gathered monthly

at VAI, and to help them along the way, Institute leaders,

scientists and staff met with the students to explain

VAI’s mission and teach them about the importance

of cultivating community connections and fundraising

partnerships. The speakers also addressed the skills

necessary to successfully organize and execute an event,

such as communication and organization. To help gain

hands-on experience, the students also volunteered at

Purple Community events during the school year.

Ultimately, Barker and her fellow ambassadors put their

heads together and announced Cruising for Hope, a

fun, family-friendly night at Craig’s Cruisers. Attendees

would be able purchase a wristband that gave the wearer

access to three hours of unlimited laser tag, go-karts,

pizza and more activities and refreshments at Craig’s

Cruisers.

Though the event, originally scheduled for spring

2020, was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the

planning process taught the students valuable life and

leadership skills like time management, teamwork and

adaptability. Barker said one of her biggest takeaways

was learning how to take a bold idea like a new event,

critically examine it and continually refine the strategy to

accomplish the end goal.

“It’s easy to dream as high as the sky, but you can only

do so much in a set amount of time,” Barker said. “The

Student Ambassador program really helped me learn

how to prioritize tasks, to always have a backup plan and

to always be flexible in how you reach your goals.”

To learn more about the Van Andel Institute Purple

Community Student Ambassador Program and to apply for

the upcoming school year, visit purplecommunity.org.

48 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Parkinson’s research goes ‘MINI’

on the Mackinac Bridge

PHILANTHROPY

On a sunny August weekend in Mackinaw City,

Michigan, near the southern terminus of the Mackinac

Bridge, a sea of MINI Coopers stretched as far as the

eye could see.

It was time for MINI on the Mack, a unique, biennial event

organized by the Grand Rapids-based Sharpe Automotive

dealership that brings together hundreds of MINI Cooper

owners to drive in unison across the five-mile span

connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas.

What first began as a world record attempt for the longest

parade of MINIs has evolved into a fun and meaningful

event that supports Parkinson’s disease research at

Van Andel Institute.

Sharpe’s father, George Sharpe Sr., was diagnosed

with Parkinson’s in 2009. The Sharpe family have been

passionate supporters of the Institute’s Parkinson’s

research, and MINI on the Mack marries the family’s

automotive passions with their drive to support VAI.

MINI owners are a passionate group, eager to share the

story behind their cars, Sharpe Jr. said. At events like MINI

on the Mack, that passion readily translates into supporting

Parkinson’s and other research at the Institute.

“It creates a long-lasting memory for MINI owners,” he said,

“and for us as a family and business, being able to serve as

the connector is gratifying.”

“Having Van Andel Institute involved adds a level of depth for most people there,

and for the people like me who have been affected by Parkinson’s. It gives them

an opportunity to connect and share their stories with each other.”

— George Sharpe Jr.

More than 1,300 MINI owners participated in the 2019

event, which raised $30,000 research at the Institute.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said George Sharpe Jr., partner

in Sharpe, of seeing MINI owners from far and wide join

together. “Having Van Andel Institute involved adds a level

of depth for most people there, and for the people like me

who have been affected by Parkinson’s. It gives them an

opportunity to connect and share their stories with each

other.”

Sharpe Jr. said he was thankful for the involvement of

Institute CEO David Van Andel and wife Carol Van Andel,

executive director of the David and Carol Van Andel Family

Foundation, who helped kick off the festivities and took

part in the parade across the bridge. Jay Van Andel, the

Institute’s founder and David Van Andel’s father, lived with

Parkinson’s disease for many years before his death in

2004.

“We’re so grateful to Sharpe and the Sharpe family for

spearheading this fun and powerful event,” Carol Van Andel

said. “The Sharpe and Van Andel families are connected by

the impact Parkinson’s has had on our families, and we are

proud to stand together at events like MINI on the Mack that

bring together so many people to raise awareness of and

support for Parkinson’s research.”

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 49


Highlights

EVENTS

Public lectures highlight VAI research and education efforts

Van Andel Institute hosted four public lectures in 2019, exploring the topics of

pancreatic cancer, translational medicine, education in America and Parkinson’s,

Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia. Members of the public were invited into the

Institute for the free, one-hour lectures, where attendees heard about the latest

research and education initiatives at VAI. Audience members could ask questions

after each presentation to further probe the topics being discussed. The public

lectures are an important way to connect community members and donors with

scientists and educators at the Institute, and to show them the impact their support

has on furthering VAI’s missions of improving the health of current and future

generations. Total attendance for the 2019 lectures was 768 people.

PHILANTHROPY

Celebrating our Van Andel Institute Purple Community volunteers

In 2019, volunteers gave a combined 1,189 hours of their time to support Van Andel

Institute Purple Community events and programs. Volunteers fill a key role in

Purple Community’s mission by helping ensure the success of our signature and

third-party events run smoothly. They also help spread word about the important

work being done at the Institute. Registering to volunteer with Purple Community is

easy: Our simple online registration form helps Purple Community staff get to know

our prospective volunteers. A volunteer handbook and an up-to-date calendar of

upcoming volunteer opportunities accompany the registration form. To learn more

about how you can get involved with Van Andel Institute Purple Community, visit

purplecommunity.vai.org/volunteer.

PHILANTHROPY

VAI Marathon Team conquers Chicago, New York City marathons

The Van Andel Institute Purple Community Marathon Team had another banner

year at the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and TCS New York City

Marathon. The Institute is an official charity partner with both races, which gives

free, guaranteed entry to Marathon Team members. Marathon Team members

run for a number of reasons; some run to honor a loved one who’s been affected

by a disease like cancer or Parkinson’s, and others run because they personally

have been affected. Some run to accomplish a personal goal. Whatever the reason,

Marathon Team members helped raise $99,953.40 toward research and K–12

programs at the Institute in 2019. The Marathon Team has raised $247,151.12

since 2017.

PHILANTHROPY

Bee Brave 5K brings hope to breast cancer survivors

The 12th annual Bee Brave 5K brought dozens of runners together on Saturday,

Oct. 12, 2019, to support those who have been affected by breast cancer and raise

funds for research at Van Andel Institute. The 5K is one of multiple events hosted

by Bee Brave throughout the year to raise breast cancer awareness, support those

who have been affected by the disease and honor those whose battle has ended.

The event, held at Shagbark Farm in Caledonia, Michigan, raised more than $60,000,

with 100% going directly toward research at the Institute. Other 2019 events

included the Bee Brave Golf Outing and Bee Brave Beer & Wine Fest. All Bee Brave

events raised a combined $81,484 in 2019.

50 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


PHILANTHROPY

Society of Hope

The Society of Hope recognizes those who have included

Van Andel Institute in their will, trust, or other estate plans.

Through our acknowledgment of and gratitude to these

exceptional people, we hope that their generosity will

inspire others.

Viviane G. Anderson

Stanley & Blanche Ash

Kevin & Michelle Bassett

Philip & Shirley Battershall

John & Nancy Batts

Fred Bogaert

William & Marilyn Crawford

Barbara Erhards

J. Scott Grill

Joan Hammersmith

Arthur Joseph Jabury

Maryanna Johnson

Reneé Kuipers

Mr. & Mrs. Timothy Long

Donald & Kathleen Maine

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols

LG & Helen Myers

Robert & Lorraine Nyhoff

Jone E. Phillips

Ronald Rutkowski

Alan R. Ryan

Ralph Siegel

George Sietsema

Eva Sonneville

Fred L. Tape

Hylda & Alvin Tuuk

John E. VanFossen

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 51


By the numbers

VAI Operating Revenues

67%

3%

5%

25%

$60,800K

$23,100K

$4,100K

$2,900K

Investment return utilized

Grant & contract revenue

Contributions

Other revenues

$103,000

$63,000

Designated Gifts

Total: $3,492,000

$557,000

Scientific Event Sponsorships

Neurodegenerative

Metabolism

$1,477,000

Internship Program

Operating Expenses

$1,000,000

Education

Cardiovascular

Cancer

Other

32%

$65,800K

Research

$28,000 $124,000

$140,000

63%

$32,800K

Management, general & other

5%

$5,100K

Education

52 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


Institute Leadership Team

LEADERSHIP

David Van Andel

Van Andel Institute Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

David Van Andel is Chairman and CEO of Van Andel

Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also an

entrepreneur involved in several other business interests

in the natural and life science products industries.

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

and co-founder of Amway Corporation, David is currently

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

its Executive, Governance and Audit committees. Before

leading Van Andel Institute, he had held various positions

at Amway since 1977, including chief operating officer of

Amway’s Pyxis Innovations Business Unit, and was senior

vice president — Americas and Europe, overseeing

Amway business activities in North America and 22

European and 11 Latin American affiliates.

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

Chief Strategic Officer

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

Chief Operations Officer

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

Chief Scientific Officer

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

Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Terra Tarango

Director & Chief Education Officer

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D.

President & Dean, Van Andel Institute

Graduate School

Linda Zarzecki

Vice President of Human Resources

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 53


Van Andel Institute Board Members

Van Andel Institute Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

Joan Budden

President & Chief Executive Officer, Priority Health

John Kennedy

President & Chief Executive Officer, Autocam Medical

Mark Meijer

President, Life E.M.S. Ambulance

Van Andel Research Institute Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

Tom R. DeMeester, M.D.

Professor & Chairman Emeritus, Department of Surgery,

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

James B. Fahner, M.D.

Chief of Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s

Hospital

Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology;

Director, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer

Center; Director, Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory,

University of Chicago

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Founding Research

Director, Van Andel Research Institute

Max S. Wicha, M.D.

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Van Andel Education Institute Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

James E. Bultman, Ed.D.

Former President, Hope College

Susan Keipper Meell

Chief Executive Officer, MMS Education

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity

& Inclusion, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy,

Grand Valley State University; President Emeritus, Aquinas

College

Teresa Weatherall Neal, Ed.D.

Former Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Board of Directors

James B. Fahner, M.D.

Chief, Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s

Hospital

(LEFT TO RIGHT) JOHN KENNEDY, DAVID VAN ANDEL,

MARK MEIJER & JOAN BUDDEN

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

Chief Scientific Officer; Distinguished Professor; Director,

Center for Epigenetics, Van Andel Institute

54 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


BOARDS

Van Andel Research Institute Graduate School Board of Directors (continued)

Pamela Kidd, M.D.

Medical Director, Hematology & Flow Cytometry

Laboratories of Spectrum Health & Helen DeVos

Children’s Hospital

Karen Klomparens, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor to the Provost, Michigan State University

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity

& Inclusion, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy,

Grand Valley State University; President Emeritus,

Aquinas College

Mary O’Riordan, Ph.D.

Professor & Associate Dean, University of Michigan

Medical School

Danny R. Welch, Ph.D.

Founding Chair, Department of Cancer Biology, University

of Kansas Cancer Center

Van Andel Research Institute External

Scientific Advisory Board

Sharon Y.R. Dent, Ph.D. (ESAB Chair)

Professor & Chair, Department of Epigenetics & Molecular

Carcinogenesis; Director, Science Park; Director, Center

for Cancer Epigenetics, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Xiaodong Cheng, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Molecular & Cellular Oncology,

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Van Andel Research Institute External Scientific Advisory Board (continued)

Joseph Ecker, Ph.D.

Professor, Plant Molecular & Cellular Biology Laboratory;

Director, Genomic Analysis Laboratory; Howard Hughes

Medical Institute Investigator; Salk International Council

Chair in Genetics, Salk Institute

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

Professor, University of California at Irvine

Theresa Guise, M.D.

Professor of Medicine; Jerry W. & Peg S. Throgmartin

Professor of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Division

of Endocrinology, Indiana University

Tony Hunter, Ph.D.

Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory; American

Cancer Society Professor; Renato Dulbecco Chair;

Director, Salk Institute Cancer Center

Anthony E. Lang, O.C., M.D., FRCPC, FAAN, FCAHS,

FRSC

Director, Edmond J. Safra Program in Parkinson’s Disease,

Toronto Western Hospital

Mitchell Lazar, M.D., Ph.D.

Willard & Rhoda Ware Professor in Diabetes & Metabolic

Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine, University of

Pennsylvania

Max S. Wicha, M.D.

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 55


Van Andel Institute Board of Governors

CO-CHAIRS: TIM LONG & VICKY LUDEMA

Chris Ade

Perry Alburg

Liz Alexander

Rosemary Anderson

Kurt Arvidson

Tony & Kathleen Asselta

Jeff Battershall

Regena Bassett

John & Ginny Baysore

Norman & Kristina Beauchamp

Stacie Behler

Bradley & Anna Bengtson

Gregory & Rajene Betz

Karl & Patricia Betz

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi

Dave & Jill Bielema

Daniel Bitzer

Chuck & Christine Boelkins

Carrie Boer

M. Rodrick & Kathleen Bolhous

Chuck & Sarah Booth

Jeremy Bouwhuis

Patrick & Kris Brady

Leonard Brucato

Joan Budden

William & Jackie Bylenga

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan

Amy & Randall Chambers

Stacey Coffman

Mike & Kathy Cok

Steven & Diane Colvin

Stephen Comer

Matthew & Carlie Cook

Bill & Marilyn Crawford

Mimi Cummings

Tom & Tracy Curran

William Currie

Dave & Karen Custer

Stephen & Jennifer Czech

Jerry & Karen DeBlaay

Thomas & Jacquie DeJonge

Douglas & Sandra Dekock

Rob DeVilbiss

Dick & Betsy DeVos

Douglas & Maria DeVos

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh

Daniel & Viki Distin

Cynthia Dunlap

John Dykstra

Mark Eastburg

Michael & Lynette Ellis

Tim & Gail Emmitt

Henry & Anne Emrich

Mathew & Jennifer Fahrenkrug

Tom & Mickie Fox

Tina Freese-Decker

Edward Fritsch

Dan & LouAnn Gaydou

Todd & Brenda Gardner

Stuart & Lori Genschaw

John & Nancy Gordon

Brent & Cheryl Granger

Martin & Peggy Greydanus

Jefra Groendyk

Ronald Haan

Dr. Thomas & Marcia Haas

Peter Hahn

Jana Hall

Tom & Lynn Hammer

Scott Hammontree

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate

Lewis & Teresa Hendricks-Pitsch

Paul & Rosemary Heule

Steve Hodges

Dirk & June Hoffius

Rhonda & Marshall Huismann

J.C. Huizenga & Dr. Tammy L. Born-

Huizenga

Bill & Starr Humphries

Ben & Molly Hunting

John & Laura Hurley

Bea Idema

Kyle Irwin

Mike & Sue Jandernoa

Robert & Lynne Jarman-Johnson

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones

John & Deb Kailunas

John & Nancy Kennedy

Craig & Debra Kinney

Stephen Klotz

Al & Robin Koop

Blake & Mary Krueger

Renee Kuipers

Michael & Brenda Lamfers

Ray & Jeannine Lanning

Kenneth Larm

Wayne & Terry Lobdell

Ray B. Loeschner

Tim & Kim Long

Steve Longstreet

Gary & Vicky Ludema

Michael & Suzanne Lunn

David Madiol

Kathleen Maine

John & Michele Maly-Dykema

Joe Martinez

Holly McCaw

Michael & Jen McGraw

Deb Meijer

Lena Meijer

Mark & Mary Beth Meijer

Rusty & Jenn Merchant

Howard & Lisa Miller

Jack H. Miller

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols

Mike & Rachel Mraz

Martha Muir

Laurie-Ann Netto

Jack Nichols

Juan & Mary Olivarez

Steve Olson

Richard Pappas

Richard Postma

Ryan Quillan

Sam & Francesca Rehnborg

Patrick Reid

Henry Rempe

Pat Ringnalda

Brenda & Tom Rinks

Jeffery Roberts

Eve Rogus & Paul Becker

Kari Luther Rosbeck

Doug Rottman

John & Therese Rowerdink

Fred & Kathy Rozema

Christine Salvati

H. Gideon Sanders

Michael & Cynthia Schaap

Megan Schmidt

Tim & Barbie Schowalter

Matthew A. Scogin

Peter & Joan Secchia

Tony & Dawn Semple

George & Linda Sharpe

George & Missy Sharpe

Thank you, Board of Governors.

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

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

56 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019


COMMUNITY AMBASSADORS

Nicole Sharpe

Eric & Mary Shupe

Jason & Kasie Smith

John & Judy Spoelhof

Rob & Susan Stafford

Peter Stamos & Soonmee

Cha-Stamos

Frank & Dana Stanek

Tom Stavrou

Dr. James L. Strikwerda

Thomas & Mary Stuit

Theresa Sullivan

Duke Suwyn

Steve & Cheryl Timyan

Marilyn Titche

Brian Toronyi

Dr. Steven & Laura Triezenberg

David & Carol Van Andel

Steve & Amy Van Andel

Michael & Michelle Van Dyke

Dan & Ann Marie Van Eerden

Donna Van Haren

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet

Maria Van Til

Dr. George Vande Woude

Brian & Lori Vander Baan

Allen & Nancy VanderLaan

Sharon VanDellen

Don & Janell VanDine

Michael & Gayle VanGessel

James & Mary Veldheer

John & Vanessa Veleris

Peter & Denise Versluis

Chris & Dana Vinton

Phillip & Kathleen Vogelsang

Jen Weixeldorfer

Tom & Laurie Welch

Todd & Tracy Wenzel

Ben & Jennifer Wickstrom

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak

Scott & Rebecca Wierda

Julie Wiersema

Jim & Sue Williams

Greg & Meg Willit

Steve Wlodarski

Galit Wolf

Dr. Leslie & Jane Wong

John & Kathleen Workman

Todd Wriggelsworth & Renee

Tabben

Sean Wright

Jim & Jane Zwiers

Van Andel Institute JBoard Ambassadors

CO-CHAIRS: RACHEL MRAZ & CHAD BASSETT

Dr. Dorothy C. Armstrong

Travis Arnoys

Keegan Balk

Robert & Katie Barcelona

Chad Bassett

Lindsay Benedict

Christopher Billmeier

Hannah Blackwell

Paige Cornetet

Blake Crabb

Jenna DeBest

Aaron & Afton DeVos

Samuel DeVries

Alex Ehlert-VanBeveren

Jennifer Fischer

Dana Friis-Hansen

Zachary Gebben

Mary Hilger

Ken Hoffman & Lisa Rose

Mark Holzbach

Jordan Hoyer

Jason & Brandi Huyser

Eric Jones

Margaret Kennedy

Alison Keutgen

Kevin & Katie Kileen

Kyle Kimble

Michael & Andrea Leestma

Casey Lowery

Geoff Ludema

Mike & Rachel Mraz

Thomas Murray

Christopher & Alyssa Nance

Kendra Osowski

Gregory Paplawsky

Eric Payne

Stacy Peck

Leland & Alexandra Perez

Justin Pinto

Cody Pletcher

Lily Powers

Pablo & Jenna Prieto

Nicole Probst

Sara Ross

Charlie & Tanya Rowerdink

Alex Schrotenboer

Lisa Schrotenboer

Kelsey Schweibert

Jon & Allison Sleight

Joseph Spoelhof

Timothy Streit

Mark Stuit

Elizabeth Terhorst

Bob Tsironis

Aaron & Hailey Van Andel

Chris Van Andel

Jesse & Heather Van Andel

Kyle Van Andel

Daniel VandenBosch

Sarah VanderBaan

Tripp & Katie VanderWal

Sydney Vinton

Alexandra Wittenbach

Brandon & Tina Wong

Megan Zubrickas

THESE LISTS REPRESENT MEMBERSHIP BETWEEN JAN. 1, 2019, AND DEC. 31, 2019.

Thank you, JBoard Ambassadors.

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

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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2019 | 57


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

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