2019 Annual Report

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Through biomedical research and science education,<br />

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

health and enhancing the lives of current and<br />

future generations.

Table of Contents<br />

2 A letter from David Van Andel<br />

4 Research<br />

6 New blood test for pancreatic cancer<br />

8 Inflammation’s role in depression<br />

and suicide<br />

10 Road map to a healthier future<br />

12 Research highlights<br />

15 Translating impact from the lab to the clinic<br />

16 Van Andel Institute’s principal investigators<br />

22 Graduate School welcomes largest, most<br />

international cohort<br />

24 Graduate School highlights and<br />

student statistics<br />

26 Education<br />

28 Blue Apple brings project-based learning<br />

to life<br />

29 Science on the Grand<br />

30 Strong growth for VAI student programs<br />

32 Events and Philanthropy<br />

34 Event photos<br />

45 Signature special event sponsors<br />

46 George Vande Woude: A life lived in science<br />

47 Supporting Parkinson’s research today,<br />

because of tomorrow<br />

48 Student Ambassadors make their mark<br />

49 Parkinson’s research goes ‘MINI’ on the<br />

Mackinac Bridge<br />

50 Events and philanthropy highlights<br />

51 Society of Hope<br />

52 By the numbers<br />

53 Institute leadership team<br />

54 Board members<br />

56 Board of Governors<br />

57 JBoard Ambassadors

A letter from David Van Andel<br />

Dear Friends,<br />

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

the indelible mark made on our global society by the COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

Though we remain strong as an Institute and are proud to share our breakthroughs<br />

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

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

sustained us for many years, and we will forge ahead together through this altered<br />

landscape.<br />

Over the course of the last year, we have continued to shape the course of scientific<br />

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

evidence of that in the following pages, stories and anecdotes that reflect our unbridled<br />

concern for humanity.<br />

While our collective reality has changed, the progress made by VAI scientists and<br />

educators in <strong>2019</strong> laid a strong foundation to continue our mission of improving the<br />

health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations.<br />

Early in the year, for example, a team led by Institute scientists announced a new<br />

combination blood test for pancreatic cancer that may help save lives by catching this<br />

notoriously difficult-to-treat disease sooner. That test was undergoing additional thirdparty<br />

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

identified a new mechanism that accelerates aging in the brain and gives rise to the<br />

most devastating biological features inherent in Alzheimer’s disease. The findings give<br />

scientists new avenues for screening compounds designed to slow or stop Alzheimer’s<br />

progression, something existing medications cannot do.<br />

In the summer, Van Andel Institute for Education launched its Blue Apple initiative<br />

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

Institute Graduate School welcomed in the fall its largest and most international cohort<br />

to date.<br />

our progress. Your support empowers the Institute to attract and retain world-class<br />

scientists and educators who carry out vital and important work on behalf of a world in<br />

need.<br />

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

doing here at VAI — the work made possible by you.<br />

Warmly,<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO<br />

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

and Parkinson’s, inspiring and training the scientists of tomorrow who will build on<br />

2 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 3

Van Andel Institute for Research<br />

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

research. The Institute’s scientists collaborate with partners around the<br />

world to catalyze discovery and translate bold ideas into breakthrough<br />

treatment strategies.<br />

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VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 5

New combination blood test for pancreatic cancer<br />

may catch disease earlier<br />

Clues in the blood may help catch pancreatic cancer<br />

sooner, giving people battling this deadly disease a<br />

better chance at remission.<br />

A team led by Dr. Brian Haab has developed a new,<br />

simple blood test that, when combined with an existing<br />

test, detects nearly 70% of pancreatic cancers with<br />

a less than 5% false-positive rate. If successful in<br />

additional clinical evaluation, this new combination<br />

approach could give doctors a powerful new tool for<br />

screening people at high risk for pancreatic cancer and<br />

increase the chances that it’s caught in its earlier and<br />

more treatable stages.<br />

“Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease made even<br />

more devastating by its tendency to spread before<br />

detection, which is a serious roadblock to successful<br />

medical treatment,” Haab said. “We hope that our new<br />

method will help doctors catch and treat pancreatic<br />

cancer before this happens.”<br />

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose because it<br />

often doesn’t have obvious early symptoms. By the<br />

time the disease is found, it typically is quite advanced,<br />

complicating treatment and leading to poorer<br />

outcomes. Only 8.5% of people with pancreatic cancer<br />

survive past five years, a figure that has only risen<br />

slightly since the early 1990s.<br />

Both Haab’s new test and the existing test detect<br />

and measure levels of sugars produced by pancreatic<br />

cancer cells that subsequently escape into the blood<br />

stream. The sugar measured by the new test — sTRA —<br />

is produced by a different subset of pancreatic cancers<br />

than CA-19-9, the sugar measured by the existing test.<br />

When used together, the tests cast a broader net and<br />

detect subtypes of pancreatic cancer that may have<br />

been missed by using one of the two tests on its own.<br />

“We believe using these tests in a complementary<br />

fashion will help physicians detect pancreatic cancers<br />

much sooner in the disease process, which significantly<br />

improves a patient’s chance for survival,” Haab said.<br />

“Right now, there are few options for people suspected<br />

to have pancreatic cancer. This combined blood test<br />

could be a simple, cost-effective way to detect disease<br />

early enough to save lives.”<br />

In late <strong>2019</strong>, the test began undergoing additional realworld<br />

validation in clinical labs at Spectrum Health. If<br />

successful as expected, Haab and his team envision the<br />

test becoming widely available as a screening tool for<br />

high-risk individuals.<br />

Research reported in this publication was supported by<br />

the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes<br />

of Health under award numbers U01CA152653,<br />

U01CA200466, U01CA200468, U01CA168896,<br />

U01CA196403 and P30CA138313. The content is solely<br />

the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily<br />

represent the official views of the National Institutes of<br />

Health.<br />

“Pancreatic cancer is an<br />

aggressive disease made even<br />

more devastating by its tendency<br />

to spread before detection,<br />

which is a serious roadblock to<br />

successful medical treatment.<br />

We hope that our new method<br />

will help doctors catch and treat<br />

pancreatic cancer before<br />

this happens.”<br />

— DR. BRIAN HAAB<br />

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VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 7

Rooting out inflammation’s role in depression and suicide<br />

Depression and suicide have long carried a stigma —<br />

one that Dr. Lena Brundin hopes to dispel through a<br />

better understanding of their biological roots.<br />

“I think it’s still hard for people to see depression and<br />

suicidality as physical illnesses, but that’s what they<br />

are,” said Brundin, an associate professor in Van Andel<br />

Institute’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science.<br />

“There are measurable biological contributors such as<br />

byproducts of chronic inflammation that influence a<br />

person’s likelihood to develop depression or self-harm.<br />

Leveraging these markers could hold the key to helping<br />

people before it is too late.”<br />

Brundin’s efforts go back decades: as a graduate<br />

student at Sweden’s Lund University in the late 1990s,<br />

she noticed a major inflammatory reaction in brain cells<br />

that had been transplanted into people with Parkinson’s<br />

disease. It made her wonder: could such an aggressive<br />

reaction influence emotion and behavior?<br />

“There has been a huge change from the 1990s, when<br />

people thought of the brain as an organ that’s more or<br />

less isolated from the rest of the body,” Brundin said.<br />

“Over the past 25 years, we’ve seen an explosion of<br />

research on brain inflammation and its broad impact on<br />

the rest of the body.”<br />

By the time she arrived at the Institute in 2012, Brundin<br />

already had uncovered key findings linking inflammation<br />

and depression. She quickly teamed up with Dr. Eric<br />

Achtyes, a psychiatrist at Pine Rest Christian Mental<br />

Health Services, who had similar research interests.<br />

Over the years, this collaboration has continued to<br />

expand and yield critical new insights. In <strong>2019</strong>, they<br />

launched a new study to identify blood-based<br />

biomarkers for suicide risk, hoping to develop a test that<br />

could help physicians differentiate between people who<br />

are likely to self-harm and those who are not, allowing for<br />

earlier, life-saving intervention.<br />

The project is the first study of its kind, and is a<br />

collaboration between Brundin, Achtyes and Columbia<br />

University Department of Psychiatry’s Dr. J. John Mann.<br />

It is supported by a five-year, $3.6 million grant from the<br />

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National<br />

Institutes of Health.<br />

“Clinicians are looking for tools to help them identify<br />

individuals who are at highest risk for suicide among<br />

those who are depressed,” Achtyes said. “We are hopeful<br />

this study will help us develop these tools to better<br />

understand who is at imminent risk.”<br />

Later in the year, Brundin and Achtyes and colleagues<br />

from Michigan State University College of Human<br />

Medicine published a report that showed a runaway,<br />

inflammatory immune response may be responsible for<br />

triggering severe depression during and after pregnancy.<br />

Not to be mistaken for the rapidly passing “baby blues,”<br />

which is common right after delivery, pregnancy-related<br />

depression is a serious medical condition that can<br />

escalate in severity and may even require hospitalization.<br />

One in five new mothers experience depression after<br />

pregnancy, with symptoms beginning during pregnancy<br />

and generally worsening after delivery. An estimated 14%<br />

have suicidal ideation during pregnancy.<br />

Brundin is hopeful that their efforts will soon translate<br />

into new, effective treatment options for those with<br />

depression.<br />

“There already are many anti-inflammatory medications<br />

that could possibly be repurposed to treat depression,”<br />

she said. “The more we learn, the closer we come to<br />

finding actionable, new ways to improve people’s lives.”<br />

Research reported in this publication is supported by the<br />

National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes<br />

of Health under award no. 1R01MH118221 (Brundin,<br />

Achtyes, Mann) and award no. R01MH104622 (Brundin). The<br />

content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does<br />

not necessarily represent the official views of the National<br />

Institutes of Health.<br />

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

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


8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>


What is<br />

inflammation?<br />

Inflammation is the immune system’s<br />

normal reaction to harmful stimuli, such as<br />

infection, injury or chronic disease, or<br />

even stress.<br />

Following one of these insults, the body<br />

releases a cascade of white blood cells,<br />

which produce chemicals that attempt to<br />

remove the cause of the problem and start<br />

the healing process.<br />

The effects of inflammation, though<br />

designed to help us, aren’t always pleasant.<br />

They include increased blood flow, leading<br />

to redness and increased heat; fluid rushing<br />

to the area, causing swelling; and pain, a<br />

flood of chemicals to stimulate nerves.<br />


With their job complete, these cells stop<br />

making these chemicals and the symptoms<br />

of inflammation wear off. Occasionally,<br />

however, something goes awry and the<br />

body overproduces inflammatory chemicals<br />

and continues producing them longer than<br />

they are needed. If left unchecked, this<br />

can disrupt the body’s ability to function<br />

normally and contribute to a number of<br />

issues, including depression and suicidal<br />

thoughts and actions.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 9

Epigenetic ‘memories’ may provide clues to the<br />

health of future generations<br />

Dr. Andrew Pospisilik and Dr. Heidi Lempradl are<br />

working on a road map to a healthier future, one that<br />

accounts for the ripple effect our diet and lifestyle<br />

choices may have across the generations.<br />

“The human body has an incredible capacity to adapt to<br />

its environment,” said Pospisilik, director of Van Andel<br />

Institute’s Center for Epigenetics. “Evidence suggests<br />

that the choices we make and experiences we have today<br />

can have far-reaching implications and may even affect<br />

predisposition to disease down the line.”<br />

To accomplish their goal, Pospisilik and Lempradl must<br />

untangle a highly complex, interwoven web of factors,<br />

tracing the impact of individual variables — such as diet<br />

or a specific genetic element — through a proverbial<br />

Gordian knot.<br />

“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘One parent ate a certain<br />

type of diet, so their child will be less at risk for a specific<br />

disease,’” said Lempradl, an assistant professor in VAI’s<br />

Metabolic and Nutritional Programming group. “We are<br />

complex organisms who inhabit a complex world. This<br />

work is incredibly challenging, but if we can figure it out,<br />

the benefits to human health will very much be worth it.”<br />

Biological information is passed through the generations<br />

via genetics and epigenetics. Our genetics are a biological<br />

blueprint created by blending our parents’ genetic<br />

information; our epigenetics are the switches that<br />

determine when this information is used — or not.<br />

Here’s how it works: Each of the roughly 37.2 trillion cells<br />

in the human body contains essentially the same genetic<br />

information encoded in our DNA. But at any given<br />

moment, an individual cell doesn’t need to use all of<br />

those instructions; for example, a blood cell needs only<br />

the instructions related to its function and can ignore the<br />

instructions that are specific to a brain cell. Epigenetics<br />

determines when specific instructions are needed and<br />

used by tagging DNA with special molecular marks.<br />

But epigenetics aren’t static. They can be responsive<br />

and play a major role in our ability to adapt to changes<br />

in our environment. Take, for example, people who faced<br />

the stress of war and famine brought on by the Great<br />

Depression and World War II: These individuals likely<br />

experienced epigenetic changes that helped their bodies<br />

respond to that stress. These changes, reflected in the<br />

patterns of epigenetic marks laid down on their DNA,<br />

act like a molecular memory that is passed down to their<br />

children. The results, depending on the changes, may<br />

even alter predisposition to cancer, depression and other<br />

conditions.<br />

Recent discoveries and ongoing work in the labs of<br />

scientists like Pospisilik and Lempradl are painting a rich<br />

portrait of how the experiences of our ancestors have<br />

shaped us. One day, they hope to translate what they<br />

find into powerful preventative methods for some of our<br />

most challenging diseases.<br />

“We may find that cancer prevention starts even before<br />

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

beginning of something that could radically transform<br />

how we view health, and prevent and treat illness. The<br />

possibilities are endless.”<br />

“It’s not as simple as<br />

saying, ‘One parent ate a<br />

certain type of diet, so their<br />

child will be less at risk for<br />

a specific disease. We are<br />

complex organisms who<br />

inhabit a complex world.<br />

This work is incredibly<br />

challenging, but if we can<br />

figure it out, the benefits to<br />

human health will very much<br />

be worth it.”<br />


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VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 11

Highlights<br />


The link between taste & neurological disorders<br />

Understanding how the brain processes sweet, bitter and umami tastes may one<br />

day help researchers design more effective drugs for neurological disorders. VAI’s<br />

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

of calcium homeostasis modulator 2 (CALHM2), a protein that plays critical roles<br />

in processing taste stimuli and mitigating toxicity in brain cells. CALHM2 works by<br />

sensing chemical and electrical changes in its environment — in the taste buds,<br />

for example — and relaying the information back to the brain. Abnormal changes<br />

in CALHM proteins have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other<br />

neurological conditions; fixing these errors may help create viable treatments in the<br />

future.<br />


Collaboration & big data help redefine a rare form of dementia<br />

In a <strong>2019</strong> landmark study, more than 100 scientists from around the world —<br />

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

frontotemporal dementia, a progressive syndrome marked by shrinking of brain<br />

regions that govern behavior and speech. FTD is a rare disease, and FTD caused by<br />

genetic mutations is even rarer, making it especially difficult to study. Often, there<br />

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

study in FTD encompassed data from 3,403 individuals, and allowed scientists to<br />

identify patterns that tied specific gene mutations to age of onset, disease duration<br />

and age of death. This is particularly important for people and families with these<br />

mutations, for clinicians managing FTD and for scientists developing precision<br />

medicine approaches and methods for tracking disease progression. Findings in FTD<br />

may also have applications in understanding other types of dementia.<br />


Investigating a diabetes drug as a way to slow or stop multiple<br />

system atrophy<br />

Multiple system atrophy is a rare neurodegenerative disease that shuts down<br />

the vital systems in the body, such as the ability to move, to regulate heart rate<br />

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

and, like Parkinson’s, there is no cure. In <strong>2019</strong>, researchers at University College<br />

London began a pilot clinical study to see if the diabetes drug exenatide can slow<br />

or stop progression of MSA. Exenatide has already shown promise as a possible<br />

Parkinson’s treatment because it acts on many of the same biological pathways<br />

affected by neurodegenerative diseases. The trial is supported by Van Andel<br />

Institute, the Defeat MSA Alliance, the John Black Charitable Trust and the MSA<br />

Trust.<br />


Unlocking the brain’s secret code<br />

Dr. Viviane Labrie is parsing the human genome and the epigenetic code that<br />

regulates it in search of the root causes of neurological disorders that affect<br />

millions around the globe. In spring <strong>2019</strong>, she discovered a mechanism that<br />

accelerates aging in the brain and gives rise to the most devastating features of<br />

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

marks that may fuel the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.<br />

Taken together, her findings are charting new paths toward better diagnostic and<br />

treatment methods for a trio of tough-to-treat diseases.<br />

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VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 13

Highlights<br />


Helping the heart heal itself<br />

Scientists in the DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program, led by Dr. Stefan<br />

Jovinge, have devised a technique to sort out which heart cells can replicate and<br />

which cannot, a critical step toward treatments that may one day help the heart<br />

heal itself after injury. The method, published in the journal Circulation Research,<br />

removes a significant roadblock to developing ways to regrow healthy cardiac<br />

muscle tissue, a feat not currently possible. Earlier in the fall, the Jovinge team,<br />

along with collaborators in Sweden and Romania, also found that blocking an<br />

inflammatory protein after a heart attack may reduce damage and mitigate the<br />

risk of future heart failure. This study was listed as one of the major discoveries<br />

in the field of acute coronary syndromes in <strong>2019</strong> by the prestigious European<br />

Heart Journal. Together, these two discoveries help lay the foundation for a new<br />

generation of cardiac therapies aimed at repairing the heart without the need<br />

for invasive surgery. The DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program is a joint effort<br />

between Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health.<br />


A ‘Swiss Army knife’ for fighting cancer<br />

Blocking specific parts of a Swiss Army knife-like protein called UHRF1 switches<br />

on hundreds of cancer-fighting genes, impairing colorectal cancer cells’ ability to<br />

spread throughout the body. The protein is akin to a molecular Swiss Army knife<br />

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

Dr. Scott Rothbart and VAI and Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Stephen Baylin<br />

comes at a particularly important time — while colorectal cancer rates have been<br />

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

Colorectal cancers often aren’t caught until their later stages in this younger group<br />

because they fall below the age for annual screening. Rothbart and Baylin are<br />

working to translate their findings into more precise therapeutic strategies that<br />

better fight these devastating cancers and keep them from metastasizing.<br />


Breaking down osteoarthritis in search of a cure<br />

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

disease caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the elastic tissue that serves as a<br />

shock absorber between bones. Despite being incredibly common, this painful and<br />

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

better understanding the root cause from which osteoarthritis stems. He and his<br />

team are investigating the complex web of overlapping biological pathways and<br />

factors that govern skeletal health, with a special focus on a pathway related to<br />

cellular aging.<br />


Findings could help women with uterine fibroids avoid hysterectomy<br />

Uterine fibroid tumors are the leading cause of hysterectomies in the U.S., yet the<br />

mechanisms that give rise to these tumors have largely been unknown. In <strong>2019</strong>, a<br />

collaborative team led by Dr. Hui Shen of Van Andel Institute and Dr. Jose Teixeira<br />

of Michigan State University College of Human Medicine found that an overactive<br />

gene in uterine fibroids is linked to the transformation of cells in the muscle of the<br />

uterus into cells more typically found in the cervix. This breakthrough eventually<br />

may lead to new treatments that interfere with this abnormal process and could<br />

help many women to avoid surgery.<br />


When studying immune cells, environment matters<br />

For years, scientists have used cells grown in petri dishes to study the metabolic<br />

processes that fuel the immune system. But findings from VAI’s Dr. Russell<br />

Jones suggest that the way immune cells manage and use energy in the artificial<br />

environment of a dish is drastically different from how it occurs in living organisms.<br />

The discovery has far-reaching implications for how scientists study the complex,<br />

interconnected systems that underpin health and disease and how they translate<br />

these insights into new diagnostic and treatment strategies.<br />

14 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Translating impact from<br />

the lab to the clinic<br />

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

doctor’s office. Through collaborations with leading scientists, physicians and<br />

organizations in the U.S. and abroad, Van Andel Institute is supporting critical<br />

trials designed to evaluate potentially life-saving therapies for cancer and<br />

Parkinson’s disease.<br />


Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To<br />

Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team<br />

Optimizing drug combinations for<br />

a one-two punch against cancers,<br />

including:<br />

• Metastatic colorectal cancer<br />

• Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)<br />

• Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)<br />

• Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia<br />

(CMML)<br />

• Non-small cell lung cancer<br />

• Bladder (urothelial) cancer<br />

• Liver, pancreatic, bile duct and<br />

gallbladder cancers<br />

• Breast cancer<br />

Research By The Numbers<br />

12<br />

1<br />

470<br />

+<br />

Trials launched<br />

Trial in development<br />

Patients<br />

International Linked<br />

Clinical Trials (iLCT)<br />

Repurposing existing drugs to<br />

shorten the development pipeline<br />

in collaboration with The<br />

Cure Parkinson’s Trust.<br />

The iLCT initiative aims to identify<br />

new therapies for Parkinson’s<br />

disease by repurposing medications<br />

used for other conditions, including<br />

diabetes, high cholesterol and<br />

respiratory ailments.<br />

Research By The Numbers<br />

15<br />

10<br />

850<br />

+<br />

Trials launched<br />

Trials In development<br />

Patients<br />

All numbers as of March 2020<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 15

Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

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

lives of current and future generations through groundbreaking biomedical research.<br />


Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)<br />

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon),<br />

is a pioneer in epigenetics, a<br />

growing field that explores how<br />

genes are regulated and provides<br />

new avenues for developing<br />

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

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

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

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

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

Academy of Arts and Sciences among other prestigious<br />

societies. He and his colleague Dr. Stephen Baylin<br />

co-lead the Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer<br />

Epigenetics Dream Team.<br />

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

Associate Director of<br />

Research;<br />

Director, Center for<br />

Neurodegenerative Science<br />

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

investigates molecular<br />

mechanisms in Parkinson’s disease with the goal<br />

of developing new therapies aimed at slowing or<br />

stopping disease progression and repairing damage.<br />

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

neurodegenerative disease and leads international<br />

efforts to repurpose drugs to treat Parkinson’s.<br />

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D.<br />

Director, Center for<br />

Epigenetics; Professor,<br />

Metabolic and Nutritional<br />

Programming, Center for<br />

Cancer and Cell Biology<br />

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D., seeks<br />

to understand how we become who we become, and<br />

how our disease susceptibility is defined from early on in<br />

life, even before conception, with the long-term goal of<br />

being able to predict lifelong health outlook at birth.<br />

Bart Williams, Ph.D.<br />

Director, Center for Cancer<br />

and Cell Biology; Professor,<br />

Skeletal Disease and Cancer<br />

Therapeutics, Center for<br />

Cancer and Cell Biology<br />

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

building blocks of bone growth on behalf of the millions<br />

suffering from diseases such as osteoporosis. He seeks<br />

new ways of altering cell signaling pathways to encourage<br />

healthy bone development and deter the spread of<br />

cancer to the skeleton.<br />

Scott Jewell, Ph.D.<br />

Director, Core Technologies<br />

and Services<br />

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

Institute’s Core Technologies<br />

and Services, which provides<br />

technology and specialized<br />

expertise for research investigators. Services include<br />

bioinformatics and biostatistics, cryo-EM, optical imaging,<br />

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

vivarium management and transgenics. Jewell is a past<br />

president of the International Society for Biological and<br />

Environmental Repositories (ISBER).<br />

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

Dean, Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School<br />

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

the dean of Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School. His lab, which<br />

closed in 2018 after 31 years of<br />

productive research, explored the genetic and epigenetic<br />

control systems of viruses to understand how infections<br />

progress and to reveal new ways to stop them. His<br />

discoveries with herpes simplex viruses opened up<br />

new possibilities for antiviral drug development and<br />

revealed new insights into how human cells control gene<br />

expression.<br />

16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>



Stephen Baylin, M.D.<br />

Director’s Scholar<br />

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

body’s genetic control systems —<br />

called epigenetics — searching for<br />

vulnerabilities in cancer. Baylin is a<br />

leader in this field, ranking among<br />

the first to trace epigenetic causes of cancer. His studies<br />

have led to new therapies for common cancers, like<br />

breast, lung, colorectal and many others. He is co-leader<br />

of the VAI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team with Dr. Peter<br />

A. Jones, co-director of Johns Hopkins’ Cancer Biology<br />

Division and associate director for research at Sidney<br />

Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.<br />

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

Professor, VAI; Medical Director<br />

of Research, Spectrum Health<br />

Frederick Meijer Heart and<br />

Vascular Institute; Director,<br />

DeVos Cardiovascular Research<br />

Program (a joint effort between<br />

Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health)<br />

Stefan Jovinge, M.D., Ph.D., develops ways to help the<br />

heart heal itself and has led dozens of clinical trials in<br />

regenerative medicine. As a critical care cardiologist<br />

and scientist, he uses a bench-to-bedside approach in<br />

an effort to give patients with serious heart conditions<br />

longer, healthier lives. The clinical platform for his<br />

research is the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at<br />

Spectrum Health’s Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center,<br />

and the basic science effort in regenerative medicine is<br />

performed at VAI.<br />

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

Professor<br />

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

a detailed understanding of<br />

the molecular foundations of<br />

cancer with a particular focus<br />

on identifying crucial epigenetic<br />

alterations that convert otherwise healthy cells into<br />

cancer cells. He is widely regarded as an international<br />

leader in this effort and has helped design some of<br />

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

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

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

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

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

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

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

the body switches genes on and<br />

off, a biological process called<br />

methylation that, when faulty, can<br />

lead to cancer or other diseases.<br />

His studies range from the effects of tobacco smoke<br />

on genetic and epigenetic systems to the discovery<br />

of a mechanism that may help protect the brain from<br />

neurodegeneration. Pfeifer’s studies have implications<br />

across a range of diseases, including cancer, Parkinson’s,<br />

diabetes and many others.<br />

Center for Epigenetics<br />

Epigenetic mechanisms control how<br />

DNA is used, how organisms form, and<br />

how cells switch particular genes “on”<br />

or “off” to determine form and function.<br />

Errors in these intricate processes<br />

play major roles in the development<br />

of diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s,<br />

diabetes and heart disease.<br />

Scientists in the Center for Epigenetics<br />

investigate the role of epigenetics<br />

in health and disease, with the goal<br />

of developing new prevention and<br />

treatment strategies for diseases that<br />

affect millions of people around<br />

the world.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 17

Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

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

the ways in which cells pack<br />

and unpack DNA. This complex<br />

process twists and coils roughly<br />

two meters of unwound DNA into<br />

a space less than one-tenth the width of a human hair.<br />

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

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

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

this process.<br />

Hui Shen, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

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

approaches to cancer prevention,<br />

detection and treatment by studying<br />

the interaction between genes<br />

and their control systems, called<br />

epigenetics. Her research focuses on women’s cancers,<br />

particularly ovarian cancer, and has shed new light on the<br />

underlying mechanisms of other cancer types, including<br />

breast, kidney and prostate cancers.<br />

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D., investigates<br />

the mechanisms that regulate<br />

DNA and gene expression in an<br />

effort to better understand how<br />

they impact cancer development.<br />

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

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

flow of epigenetic information<br />

from parents to their offspring,<br />

with a focus on how epigenetic<br />

markers are remodeled during<br />

egg and sperm production and how these markers<br />

are rewritten after fertilization. These processes<br />

have profound implications for fertility and embryo<br />

development. Disturbances in epigenetic remodeling are<br />

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

into adulthood.<br />

Timothy J. Triche, Jr., Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

As a statistician and computational<br />

biologist with an interest in clonal<br />

evolution and cancers of the<br />

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

focuses on wedding data-intensive<br />

molecular phenotyping to adaptive clinical trial designs<br />

in an effort to accelerate the pace of drug targeting and<br />

development in rare or refractory diseases.<br />

Hong Wen, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Hong Wen, Ph.D., investigates<br />

the fundamental mechanisms<br />

of pediatric cancers caused<br />

by dysregulation of epigenetic<br />

regulators, in hopes of developing<br />

new, improved therapies for these devastating diseases.<br />


José Brás, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. José Brás is a molecular<br />

geneticist whose research focuses<br />

on how variations in our genes<br />

impact the onset and progression<br />

of neurodegenerative diseases<br />

such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia with<br />

Lewy bodies.<br />

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

Associate Professor<br />

As a psychiatrist and a scientist,<br />

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

seeks ways to diagnose and<br />

treat depression and suicidality<br />

by studying inflammation of<br />

the nervous system. Her findings may lead to earlier<br />

interventions for depressive patients and to the<br />

development of a new class of antidepressants that<br />

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

inflammatory mechanisms can damage nerve cells in<br />

Parkinson’s disease.<br />

Hong-Yuan Chu, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Hong-Yuan Chu, Ph.D., investigates<br />

how and why dopamine-producing<br />

cells die off in Parkinson’s, a<br />

process that underlies many of<br />

the disease’s hallmark symptoms.<br />

He plans to leverage this new knowledge to develop new,<br />

more precise ways to slow or stop disease progression.<br />

18 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>


Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

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

the human genome for minuscule<br />

changes that contribute to the<br />

onset, progression and drug<br />

resistance of many diseases,<br />

including cancer, Parkinson’s, and rare and heritable<br />

disorders. His team deploys genome sequencing<br />

technologies and high-powered computational arrays<br />

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

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

than 3 billion DNA base pairs.<br />

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D., is a<br />

neurogeneticist who studies<br />

the genomic contributors to<br />

neurodegenerative diseases such<br />

as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s<br />

disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.<br />

Viviane Labrie, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

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

the dynamic interplay between<br />

the human genome and<br />

its control system — the<br />

epigenome — to understand<br />

how neurodegenerative diseases start and progress<br />

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

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

the understanding of conditions including Parkinson’s,<br />

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

has also developed new methods for epigenome analysis.<br />

Darren Moore, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

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

new diagnostic and treatment<br />

approaches for Parkinson’s by<br />

investigating the inherited form of<br />

the disease, which accounts for<br />

5% to 10% of cases. He aims to translate the<br />

understanding of these genetic mutations into better<br />

treatments and new diagnostic tools for Parkinson’s,<br />

both inherited and non-inherited. Discoveries in Moore’s<br />

lab routinely elucidate the faulty molecular interactions<br />

that transform healthy, functioning neurons into<br />

diseased ones.<br />


Skeletal Disease and Cancer Therapeutics<br />

Bart Williams, Ph.D.<br />

Director, Center for Cancer<br />

and Cell Biology; Professor,<br />

Skeletal Disease and Cancer<br />

Therapeutics, Center for<br />

Cancer and Cell Biology<br />

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

building blocks of bone growth on behalf of the millions<br />

suffering from diseases such as osteoporosis. He seeks<br />

new ways of altering cell signaling pathways to encourage<br />

healthy bone development and deter the spread of<br />

cancer to the skeleton.<br />

Center for<br />

Neurodegenerative<br />

Science<br />

Scientists in the Center for<br />

Neurodegenerative Science are<br />

investigating the factors that<br />

contribute to Parkinson’s disease<br />

and working to translate these<br />

findings into new therapies that<br />

slow or stop disease progression —<br />

something no current treatment can<br />

do. The Center also is investigating<br />

other diseases caused by progressive<br />

damage to the brain, including<br />

Alzheimer’s disease and multiple<br />

system atrophy (MSA), as well as the<br />

biological basis of depression.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 19

Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

Xiaohong Li, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

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

why various cancers, particularly<br />

prostate and breast cancer cells,<br />

migrate from their original site<br />

and spread to the bone. These<br />

cells stay dormant but might wake up years later and<br />

grow to become bone metastases, causing debilitating<br />

pain and complicating treatment. Li hopes that a better<br />

understanding of metastatic cancers will lead to new<br />

diagnostic tests and targeted therapies.<br />

Matt Steensma, M.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

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

genetic and molecular factors<br />

that cause benign tumors to<br />

become cancers in order to find<br />

vulnerabilities that may be targeted<br />

for treatment. As a scientist at VAI and a practicing surgeon<br />

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

he is committed to translating scientific discoveries into<br />

treatments that improve patients’ lives.<br />

Tao Yang, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

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

signaling systems that govern<br />

skeletal stem cells and the role<br />

they play in diseases such as<br />

osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.<br />

Bones are the largest producer of adult stem cells, which<br />

mature into cartilage, fat or bone tissue — a process that<br />

falters with age. Yang seeks a better understanding of<br />

these systems in search of new treatments for degenerative<br />

bone disorders.<br />

20 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong><br />

Structural Biology<br />

Huilin Li, Ph.D.<br />

Program Leader and Professor<br />

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

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

the most basic building blocks of<br />

DNA replication and other systems<br />

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

vanguard of cryo-EM for more than 20 years, and his<br />

research has implications for some of the world’s most<br />

critical public health concerns, including tuberculosis,<br />

cancer, mental illness and many more.<br />

Juan Du, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

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

understand the brain’s intricate<br />

communication systems using<br />

state-of-the-art structural biology<br />

approaches, such as cryo-EM.<br />

Her work has expanded knowledge of these important<br />

systems and may aid in development of new therapies in<br />

the future.<br />

Wei Lü, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

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

how brain cells communicate<br />

with each other. Using techniques<br />

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

has contributed to the field’s<br />

understanding of molecules that play crucial roles in the<br />

development and function of the nervous system.<br />

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

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

molecular structure and cellular<br />

communication, which have<br />

implications for finding new<br />

treatments for serious health<br />

threats, including cancer, diabetes and obesity. His<br />

expertise extends beyond human cells — his research<br />

into plant hormones may one day lead to heartier crops<br />

that resist drought and help meet the nutritional demands<br />

of a growing global population.<br />

Metabolic and Nutritional Programming<br />

Russell Jones, Ph.D.<br />

Program Leader and Professor<br />

Russell Jones, Ph.D., investigates<br />

metabolism at the cellular level<br />

to understand how it affects cell<br />

behavior and health, with a specific<br />

eye on cancer and the immune<br />

system. By revealing how cancer cells use metabolic<br />

processes to fuel their growth and spread, he hopes to<br />

develop new treatments that help patients by changing<br />

the standard of care for cancer.


Brian Haab, Ph.D.<br />

Professor; Assistant Dean,<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate<br />

School<br />

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

new ways to diagnose and stratify<br />

pancreatic cancers based on the<br />

chemical fingerprints tumors leave behind. Part of the<br />

problem Haab aims to solve is that cancers often look<br />

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

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

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

tumors earlier and optimize treatment.<br />

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.,<br />

investigates the links between<br />

metabolism, epigenetics and the<br />

immune system, with the goal<br />

of understanding how they work<br />

together to keep us healthy and, when things go wrong, to<br />

promote disease.<br />

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D., is<br />

investigating how the dietary<br />

choices of parents may impact<br />

the health of their offspring in<br />

the hopes of translating her<br />

findings into new ways to prevent disease and create a<br />

healthier future.<br />

Ning Wu, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

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

the interface between cellular<br />

metabolism and cellular signaling,<br />

particularly as they relate to<br />

cancer. On the most basic level,<br />

cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell growth, and Wu<br />

believes that understanding a tumor’s voracious energy<br />

requirements and altered signaling pathways will lead<br />

to new treatments that optimize existing combination<br />

therapies and identify novel therapeutic targets.<br />


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

Distinguished Scientific<br />

Fellow, Emeritus<br />

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

is a titan in cancer biology.<br />

He is the founding research<br />

director, and led the Institute’s<br />

research efforts for a decade. His discovery and<br />

description of the MET receptor tyrosine kinase as an<br />

oncogene, together with its activating ligand hepatocyte<br />

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

therapies and revolutionized the way scientists view the<br />

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

of the National Academy of Sciences.<br />

Center for Cancer and<br />

Cell Biology<br />

Scientists in the Institute’s Center for<br />

Cancer and Cell Biology investigate<br />

the mechanisms that give rise to<br />

diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis,<br />

osteoarthritis, diabetes and rare<br />

disorders such neurofibromatosis<br />

type 1 with the goal of developing<br />

better diagnostics and treatments.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 21

In <strong>2019</strong>, Van Andel Institute Graduate School welcomed<br />

its largest, most international cohort<br />

To understand how Leena Kariapper first became<br />

interested in science, you have to go way back.<br />

Kariapper, who was born in Sri Lanka but grew up in<br />

Saudi Arabia, was one of those kids who would pick up<br />

a grasshopper just to study it under a magnifying glass.<br />

Once, an uncle gave her a toy microscope — the kind<br />

you can plug into a computer to get a good look at your<br />

specimens. She wasted no time going home and finding<br />

tiny things that she could examine.<br />

But it was in eighth grade when Kariapper first<br />

encountered the science that would launch future<br />

academic and professional pursuits: molecular and<br />

cellular biology.<br />

“I had a really good biology teacher who was explaining<br />

the world of molecular biology and how DNA<br />

replication works, and I remember she drew it up on<br />

this chalkboard and I was just hooked,” Kariapper said.<br />

“I knew at that moment this was a field I wanted to<br />

explore deeper.”<br />

Fast forward, and Kariapper is a member of<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s largest and<br />

most international cohort: 10 students representing<br />

five nations, including Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom,<br />

Russia, the Netherlands and the U.S. including Puerto<br />

Rico. Together, in fall <strong>2019</strong>, they embarked on a fiveyear<br />

journey toward a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular<br />

biology.<br />

The size and diversity of the cohort embodies an<br />

intentional growth strategy put in place by Graduate<br />

School leadership to raise visibility domestically and<br />

internationally, to bolster student numbers, and to<br />

promote diverse perspectives among its student body.<br />

“We have worked very deliberately over the years to<br />

attract a highly qualified and diverse field of applicants,<br />

and each new cohort offers proof that our efforts are<br />

bearing fruit,” said Graduate School Dean Dr. Steven<br />

J. Triezenberg. “Our Institute and our community are<br />

enriched by the different personal and academic<br />

backgrounds each student brings with them to VAI.”<br />

These efforts have been helped in no small part by the<br />

work of the Graduate School’s Director of Enrollment and<br />

Records Christy Mayo. Mayo attends graduate school fairs<br />

across the country and online; in fact, it was through a<br />

virtual graduate school fair that Kariapper first met Mayo<br />

and became aware of the opportunities at the Graduate<br />

School.<br />

The Graduate School also benefits from using the<br />

Centralized Application Service for Biomedical Science<br />

Programs, or BioMedCAS, which lets students apply<br />

to multiple biomedical science graduate programs<br />

simultaneously. Mayo said BioMedCAS has led many<br />

prospective students to learn about VAIGS and then to<br />

apply for admission to the program.<br />

“We put a lot of effort into reaching a broad cross-section<br />

of students,” Mayo said. “We strongly encourage anyone<br />

searching for a rigorous Ph.D. program in molecular and<br />

cellular biology to learn how they can contribute to the<br />

world-class science happening right here at the Institute.”<br />

To learn more about the Graduate School, visit vaigs.vai.org.<br />

Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School<br />

develops future<br />

leaders in biomedical<br />

research through an<br />

intense, problemfocused<br />

Ph.D. degree<br />

in molecular and<br />

cellular biology.<br />





22 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 23

Highlights<br />


Dean leads cancer consortium<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School Dean Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., was elected<br />

as president of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium. CABTRAC is a national<br />

organization dedicated to training the next generation of cancer scientists. As<br />

president, Triezenberg will spearhead development of the CABTRAC 2020 annual<br />

meeting hosted by Vanderbilt University, as well as support programmatic<br />

committees focused on diversity, training grants, curriculum development,<br />

postdoctoral training and medical school curriculum. He began his term at the<br />

CABTRAC <strong>2019</strong> meeting in October <strong>2019</strong>. Triezenberg joined VAI in 2006 as a<br />

professor and founding dean of the Graduate School. He is a respected authority<br />

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

allow viral infections to progress. Triezenberg’s discoveries with herpes simplex<br />

virus opened new possibilities for antiviral drug development and revealed new<br />

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

Graduate student statistics<br />

Fall <strong>2019</strong> Cohort<br />

6 Domestic<br />

1 Underrepresented minority<br />

4 International<br />


Student earns career development award<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School Ph.D. student Robert Vaughan earned a<br />

prestigious Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award from the National<br />

Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The award, also known as the<br />

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

through the completion of their dissertation research training into mentored,<br />

cancer-focused postdoctoral career development research positions. This unique<br />

fellowship — the first awarded to a student of the Graduate School — is intended<br />

to support students recognized by their institutions for their high potential and<br />

strong interest in pursuing careers as independent cancer researchers. The award<br />

will help Vaughan develop his skills in analyzing genomic and epigenomic data,<br />

with hands-on training from VAI’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Core.<br />

5.29 Median years to degree<br />

65% Completion rate for Ph.D.<br />

73% Completion rate for M.S. and Ph.D.<br />

24 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>


By Career Type<br />

(Current Position, 2007–2014 cohorts)<br />

Primarily Research<br />

62%<br />

Science-related<br />

Primarily Teaching<br />

Further Training or Education<br />

14%<br />

5%<br />

19%<br />

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80<br />

By Job Sector<br />

(Current Position, 2007–2014 cohorts)<br />

Nonprofit<br />

29%<br />

For-Profit<br />

19%<br />

Academia<br />

52%<br />

0 10 20 30 40 50 60<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 25

Van Andel Institute for Education<br />

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

and critical thinking thrive.<br />

26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 27

Blue Apple brings project-based learning to<br />

life for teachers, students<br />

Van Andel Institute for Education underscored its<br />

commitment to creating classrooms where curiosity,<br />

creativity and critical thinking thrive with the launch<br />

of its Blue Apple project-based learning initiative in<br />

summer <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

Blue Apple is an innovative way to bring project-based<br />

learning to life for teachers and their students. Each<br />

Blue Apple project is a self-contained unit that includes<br />

the materials needed to immerse students in a crossdisciplinary<br />

learning experience that develops their<br />

understanding in science, social studies, English language<br />

arts, math and social-emotional learning.<br />

For example, in “Prevent the Spread,” students learn<br />

how to stop germs in their tracks by learning how they<br />

proliferate. By testing disinfectants, students also learn<br />

methods to combat the spread of illnesses. Ultimately,<br />

the students use what they’ve learned to create a public<br />

service announcement encouraging people to practice<br />

good hygiene and protect against germs.<br />

“Student engagement is the key to student achievement,<br />

so each Blue Apple project is designed to help teachers<br />

create learning experiences that are memorable,<br />

meaningful, and fun,” said VAI Chief Education Officer<br />

Terra Tarango. “We are equipping and empowering<br />

educators everywhere with the tools they need to bring<br />

authentic, project-based learning to life.”<br />

The Institute partnered with educators across the country<br />

to develop 10 Blue Apple projects. These teacher-authors<br />

spent hours refining and implementing their projects,<br />

ensuring that each is already classroom-tested and<br />

student-approved by the time it is made available for<br />

wider adoption as an official Blue Apple project.<br />

The Institute also partnered with industry experts<br />

to infuse these learning experiences with real-world<br />

connections. Whether it’s listening to a video from an<br />

infectious disease expert or sharing their PSAs with<br />

an advertiser, Blue Apple helps students interact with<br />

authentic audiences to address actual challenges and<br />

opportunities in today’s world.<br />

By the end of <strong>2019</strong>, classrooms across the nation had<br />

adopted a total of 220 Blue Apple projects, and 100% of<br />

educators reported their Blue Apple project increased<br />

students’ creative and critical thinking.<br />

To learn more about Blue Apple, visit blueappleteacher.org. To<br />

learn more about Van Andel Institute for Education,<br />

visit vaei.vai.org.<br />

Impact of Blue Apple Projects<br />

Increased creative & critical thinking<br />

Increased student engagement<br />

Helped students make the world a better place<br />

Effectively integrated core content<br />

Helped improve professional practice<br />

Helped make efficient use of planning time<br />

Likely to do another project<br />

100%<br />

95%<br />

90%<br />

95%<br />

95%<br />

80%<br />

80%<br />

28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Science on the Grand <strong>2019</strong> shined a<br />

spotlight on inquiry-based education<br />


The second annual Science on the Grand conference brought more than 130<br />

teachers and educational professionals together at Van Andel Institute in<br />

July <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

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

and provide educators with interactive sessions aimed at creating and maintaining<br />

classroom cultures that support science, technology, engineering, art and math.<br />

The conference emphasized inquiry-based learning, a principle that lies at the root<br />

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

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

research-based and classroom-tested strategies that address the demands of content<br />

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

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

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

conference ends,” said <strong>2019</strong> presenter Andy Losik, a STEM teacher in Hamilton, Michigan,<br />

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

an amazing cadre of presenters, and the conference strikes the perfect balance so that<br />

you’re always learning and connecting and growing, but you don’t feel overwhelmed or<br />

under pressure. It was incredible.”<br />

With workshops ranging from coding for teachers and implementing games into social<br />

studies lessons, the <strong>2019</strong> conference was full of fun and innovative experiences. Another<br />

big draw for participants was Pitch Tank, where educators were invited to submit their<br />

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

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

Michelle McKormick — and a live audience on the first night of the conference. Because<br />

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

portion of the prize money.<br />

Science on the Grand is a perfect example of the many ways the Institute supports<br />

teachers with the goal of helping create classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical<br />

thinking thrive.<br />

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

and resources, visit vaei.org.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 29

Field trips, summer camps drive strong<br />

growth in VAI student programs<br />

Van Andel Institute for Education capped a strong<br />

year of growth in its K–12 student programming,<br />

serving 2,608 students in <strong>2019</strong> and rolling out a<br />

number of enhancements to popular offerings like<br />

field trips and summer camps.<br />

The number of students served increased 82% over<br />

the year prior, a figure driven by greater enrollment in<br />

the Institute’s summer camps and expanded field trip<br />

offerings that included the addition of mobile field trips.<br />

The Institute’s student programs are designed to<br />

advance and promote cutting-edge K–12 education<br />

concepts and equip students with the skills to<br />

successfully navigate the workplace of tomorrow.<br />

“We strive to offer programs that empower students<br />

with a lifelong love of learning, and we’re thrilled to see<br />

more and more people taking part in these learning<br />

experiences,” said VAI Chief Education Officer Terra<br />

Tarango. “The growth this year has been phenomenal,<br />

and it’s a testament to how influential these programs<br />

are in our students’ lives.”<br />

Here are some highlights:<br />

Summer camps<br />

Four summer camps were added in <strong>2019</strong>. This included<br />

the wildly popular, Harry Potter-themed camp,<br />

“Hogwarts in Grand Rapids: The Science Behind the<br />

Magic.” Students were sorted into Hogwarts houses,<br />

made wands and attended courses like “Potions,”<br />

“Caring for Magical Creatures” and “Herbology.”<br />

Summer camp enrollment increased to 240 in <strong>2019</strong> from<br />

135 in 2018, a 78% increase. It was the third year the<br />

Institute hosted student summer camps.<br />

Afterschool cohort<br />

The Institute hosts two cohorts each semester for<br />

students in grades 4–6. Topics vary each semester.<br />

In <strong>2019</strong>, Education expanded its afterschool cohort<br />

offerings, adding programs that focus on innovation in<br />

the areas of space exploration, natural disasters and<br />

energy.<br />

In the fall, students participated in “Biomedical<br />

Explorers,” which examined genetic diversity, and<br />

“Disaster Detectives,” which explored natural disasters<br />

and their impact on humans. One hundred percent of<br />

students in each cohort reported that the programs<br />

increased their understanding of science and/or<br />

engineering.<br />

Field trips<br />

Education expanded its catalog of science, engineering<br />

and robotics field trips in <strong>2019</strong>; in all, more than three<br />

dozen field trips were available to students and teachers.<br />

The Institute also began offering mobile field trips that<br />

bring VAI educators on-location to schools.<br />

Field trips offered by the Institute are designed to<br />

immerse students and their teachers in learning about<br />

science through inquiry. Students conduct unique,<br />

grade-specific investigations and participate in hands-on<br />

discovery.<br />

To learn more about Van Andel Institute for Education’s<br />

student programs, visit vaei.vai.org/student-programs.<br />

“The growth this year has been<br />

phenomenal, and it’s a testament<br />

to how influential these programs<br />

are in our students’ lives.”<br />

— Terra Tarango<br />

30 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 31

Events & Philanthropy<br />

Van Andel Institute’s donors and philanthropic partners are<br />

connected by a shared sense of commitment to the Institute’s<br />

mission. Their creativity, passion and dedication have helped the<br />

Institute become a thriving center for biomedical research and K–12<br />

education. Van Andel Institute’s signature events are an important<br />

catalyst for scientific innovation, bringing community members<br />

together in support of research and educational initiatives that give<br />

people hope for a healthier future.<br />

32 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 33

Winterfest<br />












34 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Connection Breakfast<br />

EVENTS<br />






VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 35

Carol Van Andel Angel of Excellence<br />

Dinner & Award Presentation<br />







36 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Board of Governors Dinner<br />

EVENTS<br />





VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 37

Purple Community Celebration<br />





38 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Around the World<br />

EVENTS<br />







VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 39

Curiosity Hour<br />









40 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

VAI Golf Outing<br />

EVENTS<br />










VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 41

Couture for a Cure<br />










42 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Hope on the Hill — A Night in Wonderland<br />

EVENTS<br />









VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 43

A Conversation About Metabolism & Nutrition<br />

Hosted By Carol Van Andel<br />





44 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Signature special event sponsors<br />

We are grateful to have extraordinarily dedicated signature event sponsors.<br />

Thank you for partnering with us and supporting our mission throughout the year.<br />


ACH + Hospitality, Hyatt Place,<br />

AC Hotels Marriott<br />

Dennis & Barbara Adama<br />

Advanced Family Chiropractic<br />

Center<br />

Alliance Beverage<br />

Amway<br />

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel<br />

Anonymous<br />

Applied Imaging<br />

Aon<br />

Aquinas College<br />

Atwater Brewery GR<br />

Autocam Medical<br />

B-93<br />

B.D.’s BBQ<br />

Barnes & Thornburg LLP<br />

Chad Bassett<br />

BDT & Company, LLC<br />

Belwith Products<br />

Bengtson Center for Aesthetics<br />

& Plastic Surgery<br />

Betz Industries<br />

BHS Insurance<br />

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi<br />

Dave & Jill Bielema<br />

Bluewater Technologies<br />

Chuck & Christine Boelkins<br />

BRAVO<br />

Buist Electric<br />

Butcher’s Union<br />

Calamos Investments<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Cancer & Hematology Centers<br />

of Western Michigan<br />

Carnelian Energy Capital<br />

Cascade Rental<br />

Center for Physical Rehabilitation<br />

CityFlatsHotel<br />

Cheeky Strut<br />

Classic Race Management<br />

Colliers International<br />

Consumers Credit Union<br />

Cork Wine & Grille<br />

Cornerstone University<br />

Crowe LLP<br />

Mimi Cummings<br />

Cumulus Media<br />

Tom & Tracy Curran<br />

Custer Inc.<br />

CWD Real Estate Investment<br />

D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare<br />

& Forest Hills Foods<br />

Davenport University<br />

David & Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation<br />

Deloitte<br />

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh<br />

Jeff & Mary Dixon<br />

Divani<br />

DJ Grant Miller<br />

Eastern Floral<br />

Edward Jones<br />

Eenhoorn, LLC<br />

Eileen DeVries Family Foundation<br />

Ellis Parking Company<br />

Emmanuel Hospice<br />

Erhardt Construction<br />

Eurest<br />

FastSigns<br />

Ferris Coffee & Nut Co.<br />

Fifth Third Bank<br />

First National Bank<br />

Foremost Insurance Company<br />

Fred L. Hansen Corporation<br />

Gallagher Insurance<br />

Gazelle Sports<br />

Give ‘Em A Break Safety<br />

Grand Rapids Christian Schools<br />

Grand Valley State University<br />

Greenridge Realty, Inc.<br />

Martin & Peggy Greydanus<br />

Groove City Events<br />

Gun Lake Investments<br />

Jana Hall<br />

Harvey Automotive of Grand<br />

Rapids<br />

HealthBridge<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger<br />

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate<br />

Dave & Donna Hockstra<br />

Hope College<br />

Hope Network<br />

Howard Miller<br />

Huizenga Group<br />

Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy<br />

Bill & Starr Humphries<br />

Ice Sculptures, LTD<br />

ICN Foundation<br />

iHeart Media<br />

Independent Bank<br />

Jandernoa Foundation<br />

Jeffery Roberts Design<br />

John Hancock Retirement Plan<br />

Services<br />

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones<br />

Julie & Dan Horning Family<br />

FUN’d<br />

Kent County Medical Society<br />

Alliance<br />

Craig & Debra Kinney<br />

Kitchen 67<br />

Al & Robin Koop<br />

Blake & Mary Krueger<br />

Lake Michigan Credit Union<br />

Ray & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Leigh’s<br />

Leo’s<br />

Life EMS Ambulance<br />

Lighthouse Group<br />

Gary & Vicky Ludema<br />

Macatawa Bank<br />

Making the Turn Against<br />

Parkinson’s<br />

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation<br />

Hospital<br />

Mary Free Bed YMCA<br />

McAlvey Merchant & Associates<br />

McShane & Bowie, P.L.C.<br />

Meijer<br />

Meijer Foundation<br />

Deb Meijer<br />

Mercy Health<br />

Merrill Lynch — Veldheer, Long,<br />

Mackay & Bernecker Group<br />

Metro Health — University of<br />

Michigan Health<br />

Metro Health Sports Medicine<br />

MGD Technologies, Inc.<br />

Michael J. Murdock<br />

Oppenheimer & Co.<br />

Michelle Crumback Jewelry<br />

Michigan Paving & Materials Co.<br />

Michigan State University —<br />

College of Human Medicine<br />

Midwest Capital Advisors, LLC<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Millennial Guru<br />

MLive Media Group<br />

Modern Day Collective<br />

New Holland Brewing<br />

Norris Perne & French, LLP<br />

Nothing Bundt Cakes<br />

Orthopaedic Associates of<br />

Michigan<br />

Matt & Beth Osterhaven<br />

Owens-Ames-Kimball Co.<br />

Lee & Alexandra Perez<br />

Perper Design Associates, Inc.<br />

Peter C. & Emajean Cook<br />

Foundation<br />

Pine Rest<br />

Pioneer Construction<br />

Pitsch Company<br />

PL Capital, LLC<br />

Plastic Surgery Associates<br />

Priority Health<br />

Quality Air Service, Inc.<br />

Reds at Thousand Oaks<br />

Regal Financial Group LLC.<br />

Rehmann<br />

Renew Family Dental<br />

Reserve Wine & Food<br />

Tom & Brenda Rinks<br />

ROAM<br />

Robert Barcelona — Merrill<br />

Lynch<br />

Rocket Science<br />

Rockford Construction<br />

RoMan Manufacturing Inc.<br />

Ron’s Beans<br />

Eve Rogus & Paul Becker<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Rowerdink Inc.<br />

San Chez Bistro<br />

Scott Group Studio<br />

Secrest Wardle<br />

Tony & Dawn Semple<br />

Dan Shapiro & Joe Mangini<br />

Slows Bar BQ<br />

Sobie Meats<br />

Spectrum Health<br />

Rob & Susan Stafford<br />

Steelcase<br />

Stephen Klotz Family Foundation<br />

Suburban Landscapes<br />

Summit Point Roofing<br />

Sweetie-licious Bakery<br />

Taconic Charitable Foundation<br />

Terra<br />

Thacker Sleight<br />

The Chop House<br />

The John Dykema & Michele<br />

Maly-Dykema Family Foundation<br />

The Meijer Foundation<br />

The Peter & Joan Secchia Family<br />

Foundation<br />

The Sharpe Collection<br />

The Steve & Amy Van Andel<br />

Foundation<br />

Thomas S. Fox Family<br />

Thomas & Mary Stuit<br />

Todd Wenzel Automotive<br />

Townsquare Media<br />

Trillium Investments<br />

US Bank<br />

Sharon Van Dellen<br />

Mike & Michelle Van Dyke<br />

Van Eerden Food Service<br />

Company<br />

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

Versiti<br />

Vintage Prime & Seafood<br />

Waddell & Reed<br />

Mike & Bonnie Walters<br />

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP<br />

Wells Fargo<br />

West Michigan Woman<br />

Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails<br />

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak<br />

Dr. Bart & Wendy Williams<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Wolverine Worldwide<br />

Women’s Lifestyle<br />

YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids<br />

Zip Xpress, Inc.<br />

Jim & Jane Zwiers<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 45

Dr. George Vande Woude: A life lived in science<br />


If you ask Van Andel Institute’s Founding Research<br />

Director Dr. George Vande Woude about his uncle<br />

Henny, he’ll tell you that he was a prizefighter who<br />

could lift a barrel of beer over his head with one arm.<br />

He’ll also tell you that Henny changed his life.<br />

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

good money, but if you take it, you have to promise me<br />

that you’ll go back to school,” Vande Woude recalled.<br />

When Vande Woude was 18, his uncle made good on his<br />

promise, and the young man started work as a union<br />

beer truck delivery man in Queens, New York. It was<br />

hard work, but that job, along with help from the G.I. Bill<br />

of Rights from his earlier Army service, funded Vande<br />

Woude’s first degree at Hofstra University — and gave<br />

the world one of the great pioneers of cancer research.<br />

“My giving is a testament to<br />

the work of the Institute’s<br />

scientists, and I really try<br />

and give as much as I can to<br />

support the Institute as it<br />

continues to take its mission<br />

out into the rest of the world.”<br />

— Dr. George Vande Woude<br />

After earning his Ph.D. from Rutgers University, Vande<br />

Woude held a number of prestigious posts before<br />

coming to Grand Rapids. He spent eight years at the<br />

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal<br />

Disease Center followed by stints as research director<br />

of the Basic Research Program at the National Cancer<br />

Institute’s Cancer Research and Development Center,<br />

and as director for NCI’s Division of Basic Sciences.<br />

During his tenure at NCI, Vande Woude explored the<br />

origins of cancer on the molecular level and discovered<br />

the human MET oncogene and proto-oncogene —<br />

advances that led to the development of new, targeted<br />

cancer therapies.<br />

One day in 1998, Vande Woude got a call about a new<br />

research institute opening in Michigan. He would have<br />

the chance to help build it from the ground up. He<br />

accepted and began recruiting talented, young scientists<br />

from across the country to work at VAI. His exhaustive<br />

efforts in those early days laid a strong foundation for<br />

VAI and helped grow the Institute into a world-class<br />

biomedical research organization.<br />

Vande Woude stepped down as research director<br />

in 2009 to focus on his laboratory. Today, he is a VAI<br />

Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Emeritus, and continues<br />

to provide the Institute’s leadership with guidance. Vande<br />

Woude and his late wife, Dot, were active, generous VAI<br />

donors for years. George, whose support continues to<br />

this day, believes strongly in the ability of philanthropy<br />

to support groundbreaking research into cancer and<br />

neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.<br />

“Philanthropy plays a major role in any research<br />

program,” Vande Woude said. “My giving is a testament<br />

to the work of the Institute’s scientists, and I really try<br />

and give as much as I can to support the Institute as<br />

it continues to take its mission out into the rest of the<br />

world.”<br />

As a man who has lived his life in science for more than<br />

six decades, Vande Woude glows when asked what his<br />

favorite part about being a scientist, and states without<br />

missing a beat: “All of it.”<br />

46 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Supporting Parkinson’s research<br />

today, because of tomorrow<br />


It all started with a tremor.<br />

Richard Nelson, a father of three, loving husband and<br />

successful sales manager, noticed a small shake in his hand.<br />

At first, he didn’t think much of it, and continued to live<br />

his life. Then, 12 years ago, that tremor was diagnosed as<br />

Parkinson’s disease, and Richard and his wife, Paula, had to<br />

come to terms with the reality that their life had changed.<br />

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

Richard said. “I just convinced myself that it wasn’t that bad.”<br />

“As donors, we are always looking at<br />

the bigger picture, and we’re confident<br />

that this incredible research will<br />

benefit people down the road who are<br />

fighting this disease as well.”<br />

— Paula Nelson<br />

When the Nelsons began looking for Parkinson’s patient<br />

resources in West Michigan, they learned about Van Andel<br />

Institute’s annual Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease<br />

symposium. They attended Rallying to the Challenge, a<br />

meeting within the symposium for people with Parkinson’s<br />

and hosted in collaboration with The Cure Parkinson’s<br />

Trust. While there, they heard VAI’s Director of the Center<br />

for Neurodegenerative Science, Dr. Patrik Brundin, speak.<br />

After hearing about the Institute’s research, the Nelsons<br />

knew they wanted to do something to support Dr. Brundin<br />

and his work at the Institute.<br />

“Dr. Brundin’s passion for what he does creates a<br />

contagious level of excitement,” Paula said. “I really feel that<br />

Van Andel Institute is one of best kept secrets in Grand<br />

Rapids, and I wish people had a better understanding<br />

about how lucky we are to have people like Dr. Brundin<br />

working in our community.”<br />

In addition to attending the Institute’s Parkinson’s-focused<br />

events, the Nelsons are generous donors who believe in<br />


the power of research to impact the lives of people who are<br />

battling a disease that affects millions of people worldwide.<br />

“As donors, we are always looking at the bigger picture,”<br />

Paula said, “and we’re confident that this incredible<br />

research will benefit people down the road who are fighting<br />

this disease as well.”<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 47

Student Ambassadors make their mark with<br />

Van Andel Institute Purple Community<br />



Holly Barker has a passion for helping others. When<br />

she was an eighth grader at Duncan Lake Middle School<br />

in Caledonia, Michigan, Barker organized and hosted a<br />

fashion show to coincide with the school’s annual Cancer<br />

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

sponsors like American Eagle, Macy’s, Men’s Wearhouse<br />

and Meijer that pitched in after appeals from Barker<br />

herself.<br />

Barker’s drive to build a new philanthropic event from the<br />

ground up is what helped earn her a spot in Van Andel<br />

Institute Purple Community’s inaugural class of Student<br />

Ambassadors for the <strong>2019</strong>–20 school year. She was<br />

thrilled to be part of the new program, which brings<br />

together student leaders from West Michigan high<br />

schools to learn critical philanthropic skills like event<br />

planning, fundraising, community engagement and<br />

teambuilding.<br />

“The Student Ambassador<br />

program really helped me learn<br />

how to prioritize tasks, to<br />

always have a backup plan and<br />

to always be flexible in how you<br />

reach your goals.”<br />

— Holly Barker<br />

“Getting to help and support people in the community,<br />

while also learning new skills myself, has been amazing,”<br />

said Barker. “We get to work with so many incredible<br />

people, all while supporting research into cancer and<br />

other diseases being studied at VAI.”<br />

The Student Ambassadors’ goal was to plan and host a<br />

new event to raise funds for the Institute’s research and<br />

education programs. The students gathered monthly<br />

at VAI, and to help them along the way, Institute leaders,<br />

scientists and staff met with the students to explain<br />

VAI’s mission and teach them about the importance<br />

of cultivating community connections and fundraising<br />

partnerships. The speakers also addressed the skills<br />

necessary to successfully organize and execute an event,<br />

such as communication and organization. To help gain<br />

hands-on experience, the students also volunteered at<br />

Purple Community events during the school year.<br />

Ultimately, Barker and her fellow ambassadors put their<br />

heads together and announced Cruising for Hope, a<br />

fun, family-friendly night at Craig’s Cruisers. Attendees<br />

would be able purchase a wristband that gave the wearer<br />

access to three hours of unlimited laser tag, go-karts,<br />

pizza and more activities and refreshments at Craig’s<br />

Cruisers.<br />

Though the event, originally scheduled for spring<br />

2020, was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the<br />

planning process taught the students valuable life and<br />

leadership skills like time management, teamwork and<br />

adaptability. Barker said one of her biggest takeaways<br />

was learning how to take a bold idea like a new event,<br />

critically examine it and continually refine the strategy to<br />

accomplish the end goal.<br />

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

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

Student Ambassador program really helped me learn<br />

how to prioritize tasks, to always have a backup plan and<br />

to always be flexible in how you reach your goals.”<br />

To learn more about the Van Andel Institute Purple<br />

Community Student Ambassador Program and to apply for<br />

the upcoming school year, visit purplecommunity.org.<br />

48 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Parkinson’s research goes ‘MINI’<br />

on the Mackinac Bridge<br />


On a sunny August weekend in Mackinaw City,<br />

Michigan, near the southern terminus of the Mackinac<br />

Bridge, a sea of MINI Coopers stretched as far as the<br />

eye could see.<br />

It was time for MINI on the Mack, a unique, biennial event<br />

organized by the Grand Rapids-based Sharpe Automotive<br />

dealership that brings together hundreds of MINI Cooper<br />

owners to drive in unison across the five-mile span<br />

connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas.<br />

What first began as a world record attempt for the longest<br />

parade of MINIs has evolved into a fun and meaningful<br />

event that supports Parkinson’s disease research at<br />

Van Andel Institute.<br />

Sharpe’s father, George Sharpe Sr., was diagnosed<br />

with Parkinson’s in 2009. The Sharpe family have been<br />

passionate supporters of the Institute’s Parkinson’s<br />

research, and MINI on the Mack marries the family’s<br />

automotive passions with their drive to support VAI.<br />

MINI owners are a passionate group, eager to share the<br />

story behind their cars, Sharpe Jr. said. At events like MINI<br />

on the Mack, that passion readily translates into supporting<br />

Parkinson’s and other research at the Institute.<br />

“It creates a long-lasting memory for MINI owners,” he said,<br />

“and for us as a family and business, being able to serve as<br />

the connector is gratifying.”<br />

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

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

an opportunity to connect and share their stories with each other.”<br />

— George Sharpe Jr.<br />

More than 1,300 MINI owners participated in the <strong>2019</strong><br />

event, which raised $30,000 research at the Institute.<br />

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said George Sharpe Jr., partner<br />

in Sharpe, of seeing MINI owners from far and wide join<br />

together. “Having Van Andel Institute involved adds a level<br />

of depth for most people there, and for the people like me<br />

who have been affected by Parkinson’s. It gives them an<br />

opportunity to connect and share their stories with each<br />

other.”<br />

Sharpe Jr. said he was thankful for the involvement of<br />

Institute CEO David Van Andel and wife Carol Van Andel,<br />

executive director of the David and Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation, who helped kick off the festivities and took<br />

part in the parade across the bridge. Jay Van Andel, the<br />

Institute’s founder and David Van Andel’s father, lived with<br />

Parkinson’s disease for many years before his death in<br />

2004.<br />

“We’re so grateful to Sharpe and the Sharpe family for<br />

spearheading this fun and powerful event,” Carol Van Andel<br />

said. “The Sharpe and Van Andel families are connected by<br />

the impact Parkinson’s has had on our families, and we are<br />

proud to stand together at events like MINI on the Mack that<br />

bring together so many people to raise awareness of and<br />

support for Parkinson’s research.”<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 49

Highlights<br />

EVENTS<br />

Public lectures highlight VAI research and education efforts<br />

Van Andel Institute hosted four public lectures in <strong>2019</strong>, exploring the topics of<br />

pancreatic cancer, translational medicine, education in America and Parkinson’s,<br />

Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia. Members of the public were invited into the<br />

Institute for the free, one-hour lectures, where attendees heard about the latest<br />

research and education initiatives at VAI. Audience members could ask questions<br />

after each presentation to further probe the topics being discussed. The public<br />

lectures are an important way to connect community members and donors with<br />

scientists and educators at the Institute, and to show them the impact their support<br />

has on furthering VAI’s missions of improving the health of current and future<br />

generations. Total attendance for the <strong>2019</strong> lectures was 768 people.<br />


Celebrating our Van Andel Institute Purple Community volunteers<br />

In <strong>2019</strong>, volunteers gave a combined 1,189 hours of their time to support Van Andel<br />

Institute Purple Community events and programs. Volunteers fill a key role in<br />

Purple Community’s mission by helping ensure the success of our signature and<br />

third-party events run smoothly. They also help spread word about the important<br />

work being done at the Institute. Registering to volunteer with Purple Community is<br />

easy: Our simple online registration form helps Purple Community staff get to know<br />

our prospective volunteers. A volunteer handbook and an up-to-date calendar of<br />

upcoming volunteer opportunities accompany the registration form. To learn more<br />

about how you can get involved with Van Andel Institute Purple Community, visit<br />

purplecommunity.vai.org/volunteer.<br />


VAI Marathon Team conquers Chicago, New York City marathons<br />

The Van Andel Institute Purple Community Marathon Team had another banner<br />

year at the <strong>2019</strong> Bank of America Chicago Marathon and TCS New York City<br />

Marathon. The Institute is an official charity partner with both races, which gives<br />

free, guaranteed entry to Marathon Team members. Marathon Team members<br />

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

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

have been affected. Some run to accomplish a personal goal. Whatever the reason,<br />

Marathon Team members helped raise $99,953.40 toward research and K–12<br />

programs at the Institute in <strong>2019</strong>. The Marathon Team has raised $247,151.12<br />

since 2017.<br />


Bee Brave 5K brings hope to breast cancer survivors<br />

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

Oct. 12, <strong>2019</strong>, to support those who have been affected by breast cancer and raise<br />

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

by Bee Brave throughout the year to raise breast cancer awareness, support those<br />

who have been affected by the disease and honor those whose battle has ended.<br />

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

with 100% going directly toward research at the Institute. Other <strong>2019</strong> events<br />

included the Bee Brave Golf Outing and Bee Brave Beer & Wine Fest. All Bee Brave<br />

events raised a combined $81,484 in <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

50 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>


Society of Hope<br />

The Society of Hope recognizes those who have included<br />

Van Andel Institute in their will, trust, or other estate plans.<br />

Through our acknowledgment of and gratitude to these<br />

exceptional people, we hope that their generosity will<br />

inspire others.<br />

Viviane G. Anderson<br />

Stanley & Blanche Ash<br />

Kevin & Michelle Bassett<br />

Philip & Shirley Battershall<br />

John & Nancy Batts<br />

Fred Bogaert<br />

William & Marilyn Crawford<br />

Barbara Erhards<br />

J. Scott Grill<br />

Joan Hammersmith<br />

Arthur Joseph Jabury<br />

Maryanna Johnson<br />

Reneé Kuipers<br />

Mr. & Mrs. Timothy Long<br />

Donald & Kathleen Maine<br />

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols<br />

LG & Helen Myers<br />

Robert & Lorraine Nyhoff<br />

Jone E. Phillips<br />

Ronald Rutkowski<br />

Alan R. Ryan<br />

Ralph Siegel<br />

George Sietsema<br />

Eva Sonneville<br />

Fred L. Tape<br />

Hylda & Alvin Tuuk<br />

John E. VanFossen<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 51

By the numbers<br />

VAI Operating Revenues<br />

67%<br />

3%<br />

5%<br />

25%<br />

$60,800K<br />

$23,100K<br />

$4,100K<br />

$2,900K<br />

Investment return utilized<br />

Grant & contract revenue<br />

Contributions<br />

Other revenues<br />

$103,000<br />

$63,000<br />

Designated Gifts<br />

Total: $3,492,000<br />

$557,000<br />

Scientific Event Sponsorships<br />

Neurodegenerative<br />

Metabolism<br />

$1,477,000<br />

Internship Program<br />

Operating Expenses<br />

$1,000,000<br />

Education<br />

Cardiovascular<br />

Cancer<br />

Other<br />

32%<br />

$65,800K<br />

Research<br />

$28,000 $124,000<br />

$140,000<br />

63%<br />

$32,800K<br />

Management, general & other<br />

5%<br />

$5,100K<br />

Education<br />

52 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

Institute Leadership Team<br />


David Van Andel<br />

Van Andel Institute Chairman & Chief Executive Officer<br />

David Van Andel is Chairman and CEO of Van Andel<br />

Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also an<br />

entrepreneur involved in several other business interests<br />

in the natural and life science products industries.<br />

The son of Jay Van Andel, founder of Van Andel Institute<br />

and co-founder of Amway Corporation, David is currently<br />

a member of Amway’s Board of Directors and serves on<br />

its Executive, Governance and Audit committees. Before<br />

leading Van Andel Institute, he had held various positions<br />

at Amway since 1977, including chief operating officer of<br />

Amway’s Pyxis Innovations Business Unit, and was senior<br />

vice president — Americas and Europe, overseeing<br />

Amway business activities in North America and 22<br />

European and 11 Latin American affiliates.<br />

Jerry Callahan, Ph.D., M.B.A.<br />

Chief Strategic Officer<br />

Jana Hall, Ph.D., M.B.A.<br />

Chief Operations Officer<br />

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)<br />

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Timothy Myers, M.B.A., C.P.A.<br />

Vice President & Chief Financial Officer<br />

Terra Tarango<br />

Director & Chief Education Officer<br />

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

President & Dean, Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School<br />

Linda Zarzecki<br />

Vice President of Human Resources<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 53

Van Andel Institute Board Members<br />

Van Andel Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Joan Budden<br />

President & Chief Executive Officer, Priority Health<br />

John Kennedy<br />

President & Chief Executive Officer, Autocam Medical<br />

Mark Meijer<br />

President, Life E.M.S. Ambulance<br />

Van Andel Research Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Tom R. DeMeester, M.D.<br />

Professor & Chairman Emeritus, Department of Surgery,<br />

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California<br />

James B. Fahner, M.D.<br />

Chief of Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s<br />

Hospital<br />

Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D.<br />

Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology;<br />

Director, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer<br />

Center; Director, Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory,<br />

University of Chicago<br />

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

Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Founding Research<br />

Director, Van Andel Research Institute<br />

Max S. Wicha, M.D.<br />

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,<br />

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,<br />

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

Van Andel Education Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

James E. Bultman, Ed.D.<br />

Former President, Hope College<br />

Susan Keipper Meell<br />

Chief Executive Officer, MMS Education<br />

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.<br />

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity<br />

& Inclusion, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy,<br />

Grand Valley State University; President Emeritus, Aquinas<br />

College<br />

Teresa Weatherall Neal, Ed.D.<br />

Former Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

Board of Directors<br />

James B. Fahner, M.D.<br />

Chief, Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s<br />

Hospital<br />



Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)<br />

Chief Scientific Officer; Distinguished Professor; Director,<br />

Center for Epigenetics, Van Andel Institute<br />

54 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>

BOARDS<br />

Van Andel Research Institute Graduate School Board of Directors (continued)<br />

Pamela Kidd, M.D.<br />

Medical Director, Hematology & Flow Cytometry<br />

Laboratories of Spectrum Health & Helen DeVos<br />

Children’s Hospital<br />

Karen Klomparens, Ph.D.<br />

Senior Advisor to the Provost, Michigan State University<br />

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.<br />

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity<br />

& Inclusion, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy,<br />

Grand Valley State University; President Emeritus,<br />

Aquinas College<br />

Mary O’Riordan, Ph.D.<br />

Professor & Associate Dean, University of Michigan<br />

Medical School<br />

Danny R. Welch, Ph.D.<br />

Founding Chair, Department of Cancer Biology, University<br />

of Kansas Cancer Center<br />

Van Andel Research Institute External<br />

Scientific Advisory Board<br />

Sharon Y.R. Dent, Ph.D. (ESAB Chair)<br />

Professor & Chair, Department of Epigenetics & Molecular<br />

Carcinogenesis; Director, Science Park; Director, Center<br />

for Cancer Epigenetics, MD Anderson Cancer Center<br />

Xiaodong Cheng, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Department of Molecular & Cellular Oncology,<br />

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center<br />

Van Andel Research Institute External Scientific Advisory Board (continued)<br />

Joseph Ecker, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Plant Molecular & Cellular Biology Laboratory;<br />

Director, Genomic Analysis Laboratory; Howard Hughes<br />

Medical Institute Investigator; Salk International Council<br />

Chair in Genetics, Salk Institute<br />

Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Professor, University of California at Irvine<br />

Theresa Guise, M.D.<br />

Professor of Medicine; Jerry W. & Peg S. Throgmartin<br />

Professor of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Division<br />

of Endocrinology, Indiana University<br />

Tony Hunter, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory; American<br />

Cancer Society Professor; Renato Dulbecco Chair;<br />

Director, Salk Institute Cancer Center<br />

Anthony E. Lang, O.C., M.D., FRCPC, FAAN, FCAHS,<br />

FRSC<br />

Director, Edmond J. Safra Program in Parkinson’s Disease,<br />

Toronto Western Hospital<br />

Mitchell Lazar, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Willard & Rhoda Ware Professor in Diabetes & Metabolic<br />

Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine, University of<br />

Pennsylvania<br />

Max S. Wicha, M.D.<br />

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,<br />

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director<br />

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 55

Van Andel Institute Board of Governors<br />


Chris Ade<br />

Perry Alburg<br />

Liz Alexander<br />

Rosemary Anderson<br />

Kurt Arvidson<br />

Tony & Kathleen Asselta<br />

Jeff Battershall<br />

Regena Bassett<br />

John & Ginny Baysore<br />

Norman & Kristina Beauchamp<br />

Stacie Behler<br />

Bradley & Anna Bengtson<br />

Gregory & Rajene Betz<br />

Karl & Patricia Betz<br />

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi<br />

Dave & Jill Bielema<br />

Daniel Bitzer<br />

Chuck & Christine Boelkins<br />

Carrie Boer<br />

M. Rodrick & Kathleen Bolhous<br />

Chuck & Sarah Booth<br />

Jeremy Bouwhuis<br />

Patrick & Kris Brady<br />

Leonard Brucato<br />

Joan Budden<br />

William & Jackie Bylenga<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Amy & Randall Chambers<br />

Stacey Coffman<br />

Mike & Kathy Cok<br />

Steven & Diane Colvin<br />

Stephen Comer<br />

Matthew & Carlie Cook<br />

Bill & Marilyn Crawford<br />

Mimi Cummings<br />

Tom & Tracy Curran<br />

William Currie<br />

Dave & Karen Custer<br />

Stephen & Jennifer Czech<br />

Jerry & Karen DeBlaay<br />

Thomas & Jacquie DeJonge<br />

Douglas & Sandra Dekock<br />

Rob DeVilbiss<br />

Dick & Betsy DeVos<br />

Douglas & Maria DeVos<br />

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh<br />

Daniel & Viki Distin<br />

Cynthia Dunlap<br />

John Dykstra<br />

Mark Eastburg<br />

Michael & Lynette Ellis<br />

Tim & Gail Emmitt<br />

Henry & Anne Emrich<br />

Mathew & Jennifer Fahrenkrug<br />

Tom & Mickie Fox<br />

Tina Freese-Decker<br />

Edward Fritsch<br />

Dan & LouAnn Gaydou<br />

Todd & Brenda Gardner<br />

Stuart & Lori Genschaw<br />

John & Nancy Gordon<br />

Brent & Cheryl Granger<br />

Martin & Peggy Greydanus<br />

Jefra Groendyk<br />

Ronald Haan<br />

Dr. Thomas & Marcia Haas<br />

Peter Hahn<br />

Jana Hall<br />

Tom & Lynn Hammer<br />

Scott Hammontree<br />

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger<br />

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate<br />

Lewis & Teresa Hendricks-Pitsch<br />

Paul & Rosemary Heule<br />

Steve Hodges<br />

Dirk & June Hoffius<br />

Rhonda & Marshall Huismann<br />

J.C. Huizenga & Dr. Tammy L. Born-<br />

Huizenga<br />

Bill & Starr Humphries<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

John & Laura Hurley<br />

Bea Idema<br />

Kyle Irwin<br />

Mike & Sue Jandernoa<br />

Robert & Lynne Jarman-Johnson<br />

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones<br />

John & Deb Kailunas<br />

John & Nancy Kennedy<br />

Craig & Debra Kinney<br />

Stephen Klotz<br />

Al & Robin Koop<br />

Blake & Mary Krueger<br />

Renee Kuipers<br />

Michael & Brenda Lamfers<br />

Ray & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Kenneth Larm<br />

Wayne & Terry Lobdell<br />

Ray B. Loeschner<br />

Tim & Kim Long<br />

Steve Longstreet<br />

Gary & Vicky Ludema<br />

Michael & Suzanne Lunn<br />

David Madiol<br />

Kathleen Maine<br />

John & Michele Maly-Dykema<br />

Joe Martinez<br />

Holly McCaw<br />

Michael & Jen McGraw<br />

Deb Meijer<br />

Lena Meijer<br />

Mark & Mary Beth Meijer<br />

Rusty & Jenn Merchant<br />

Howard & Lisa Miller<br />

Jack H. Miller<br />

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Martha Muir<br />

Laurie-Ann Netto<br />

Jack Nichols<br />

Juan & Mary Olivarez<br />

Steve Olson<br />

Richard Pappas<br />

Richard Postma<br />

Ryan Quillan<br />

Sam & Francesca Rehnborg<br />

Patrick Reid<br />

Henry Rempe<br />

Pat Ringnalda<br />

Brenda & Tom Rinks<br />

Jeffery Roberts<br />

Eve Rogus & Paul Becker<br />

Kari Luther Rosbeck<br />

Doug Rottman<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Fred & Kathy Rozema<br />

Christine Salvati<br />

H. Gideon Sanders<br />

Michael & Cynthia Schaap<br />

Megan Schmidt<br />

Tim & Barbie Schowalter<br />

Matthew A. Scogin<br />

Peter & Joan Secchia<br />

Tony & Dawn Semple<br />

George & Linda Sharpe<br />

George & Missy Sharpe<br />

Thank you, Board of Governors.<br />

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

Thank you for being our partners and contributing significantly to our success.<br />

56 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong>


Nicole Sharpe<br />

Eric & Mary Shupe<br />

Jason & Kasie Smith<br />

John & Judy Spoelhof<br />

Rob & Susan Stafford<br />

Peter Stamos & Soonmee<br />

Cha-Stamos<br />

Frank & Dana Stanek<br />

Tom Stavrou<br />

Dr. James L. Strikwerda<br />

Thomas & Mary Stuit<br />

Theresa Sullivan<br />

Duke Suwyn<br />

Steve & Cheryl Timyan<br />

Marilyn Titche<br />

Brian Toronyi<br />

Dr. Steven & Laura Triezenberg<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Steve & Amy Van Andel<br />

Michael & Michelle Van Dyke<br />

Dan & Ann Marie Van Eerden<br />

Donna Van Haren<br />

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet<br />

Maria Van Til<br />

Dr. George Vande Woude<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

Allen & Nancy VanderLaan<br />

Sharon VanDellen<br />

Don & Janell VanDine<br />

Michael & Gayle VanGessel<br />

James & Mary Veldheer<br />

John & Vanessa Veleris<br />

Peter & Denise Versluis<br />

Chris & Dana Vinton<br />

Phillip & Kathleen Vogelsang<br />

Jen Weixeldorfer<br />

Tom & Laurie Welch<br />

Todd & Tracy Wenzel<br />

Ben & Jennifer Wickstrom<br />

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak<br />

Scott & Rebecca Wierda<br />

Julie Wiersema<br />

Jim & Sue Williams<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Steve Wlodarski<br />

Galit Wolf<br />

Dr. Leslie & Jane Wong<br />

John & Kathleen Workman<br />

Todd Wriggelsworth & Renee<br />

Tabben<br />

Sean Wright<br />

Jim & Jane Zwiers<br />

Van Andel Institute JBoard Ambassadors<br />


Dr. Dorothy C. Armstrong<br />

Travis Arnoys<br />

Keegan Balk<br />

Robert & Katie Barcelona<br />

Chad Bassett<br />

Lindsay Benedict<br />

Christopher Billmeier<br />

Hannah Blackwell<br />

Paige Cornetet<br />

Blake Crabb<br />

Jenna DeBest<br />

Aaron & Afton DeVos<br />

Samuel DeVries<br />

Alex Ehlert-VanBeveren<br />

Jennifer Fischer<br />

Dana Friis-Hansen<br />

Zachary Gebben<br />

Mary Hilger<br />

Ken Hoffman & Lisa Rose<br />

Mark Holzbach<br />

Jordan Hoyer<br />

Jason & Brandi Huyser<br />

Eric Jones<br />

Margaret Kennedy<br />

Alison Keutgen<br />

Kevin & Katie Kileen<br />

Kyle Kimble<br />

Michael & Andrea Leestma<br />

Casey Lowery<br />

Geoff Ludema<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Thomas Murray<br />

Christopher & Alyssa Nance<br />

Kendra Osowski<br />

Gregory Paplawsky<br />

Eric Payne<br />

Stacy Peck<br />

Leland & Alexandra Perez<br />

Justin Pinto<br />

Cody Pletcher<br />

Lily Powers<br />

Pablo & Jenna Prieto<br />

Nicole Probst<br />

Sara Ross<br />

Charlie & Tanya Rowerdink<br />

Alex Schrotenboer<br />

Lisa Schrotenboer<br />

Kelsey Schweibert<br />

Jon & Allison Sleight<br />

Joseph Spoelhof<br />

Timothy Streit<br />

Mark Stuit<br />

Elizabeth Terhorst<br />

Bob Tsironis<br />

Aaron & Hailey Van Andel<br />

Chris Van Andel<br />

Jesse & Heather Van Andel<br />

Kyle Van Andel<br />

Daniel VandenBosch<br />

Sarah VanderBaan<br />

Tripp & Katie VanderWal<br />

Sydney Vinton<br />

Alexandra Wittenbach<br />

Brandon & Tina Wong<br />

Megan Zubrickas<br />

THESE LISTS REPRESENT MEMBERSHIP BETWEEN JAN. 1, <strong>2019</strong>, AND DEC. 31, <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

Thank you, JBoard Ambassadors.<br />

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<br />

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.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2019</strong> | 57

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

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