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2020 Fall/Winter Highlights of Hope

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HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | FALL/WINTER ’20 ISSUE<br />

2 VAI Scientist Breakthroughs 4 Remembering Dr. Viviane Labrie 6 Graduate School Updates 8 Education Helps Students, Teachers Adapt<br />

10 Purple Community Spotlight: Pat Ringnalda 12 Events 16 Event Sponsors 17 Memorials & Tributes<br />

18 Donor Spotlight: Thomas & Garretta Newh<strong>of</strong>/Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong> Research Fund<br />

Note: Some photos included in this edition <strong>of</strong> <strong>Highlights</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong> were taken prior to distancing guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


RESEARCH<br />

VAI scientists continue to achieve<br />

breakthroughs during pandemic<br />

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Van Andel Institute scientists continue to make groundbreaking<br />

discoveries, collaborate with colleagues around the world and earn recognition for their efforts. Here is a snapshot <strong>of</strong> some<br />

recent advances and achievements.<br />

VAI welcomes Parkinson’s expert to its team<br />

This summer, VAI welcomed Dr. Michael Henderson to its<br />

growing team <strong>of</strong> scientists. An expert in Parkinson’s disease and<br />

dementia with Lewy bodies, Dr. Henderson investigates the role<br />

<strong>of</strong> abnormal proteins in disease onset and progression, with the<br />

goal <strong>of</strong> developing new, life-changing therapies. He has made<br />

landmark contributions to the understanding <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s and<br />

neurodegeneration, such as showing that alpha-synuclein proteins<br />

take advantage <strong>of</strong> the brain’s own structure to spread and that an<br />

enzyme called glucocerebrosidase (GBA) plays an important role in<br />

propelling alpha-synuclein’s propagation.<br />

Scientists recognized for collaborative effort to take on cancer<br />

The American Association for Cancer Research awarded <strong>2020</strong><br />

AACR Team Science Awards to VAI Pr<strong>of</strong>essor Dr. Peter W. Laird,<br />

Director’s Scholar Dr. Stephen B. Baylin and Associate Pr<strong>of</strong>essor<br />

Dr. Hui Shen for their pivotal roles in the establishment and success<br />

<strong>of</strong> The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a landmark National Institutes<br />

<strong>of</strong> Health-led project that revolutionized our understanding <strong>of</strong><br />

cancer and that is hailed as an exemplar <strong>of</strong> scientific collaboration.<br />

The awards recognize more than 100 individuals who were central<br />

to TCGA from its inception through today. Baylin holds a primary<br />

appointment at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at<br />

Johns Hopkins University.<br />

Parkinson’s-related gene linked to cellular recycling<br />

Growing evidence suggests Parkinson’s disease may result, at least<br />

in part, from breakdowns in cellular recycling systems, which lead<br />

to a build-up <strong>of</strong> toxic proteins that eventually kill vital brain cells.<br />

Now, Dr. Darren Moore and colleagues have found that LRRK2, a<br />

gene linked to Parkinson’s, works with other molecular complexes<br />

to support these critical systems. As such, abnormal changes to<br />

LRRK2 disrupt normal cellular function and could contribute to<br />

disease onset. The discovery opens doors for possibly targeting<br />

LRRK2 as a new way to treat Parkinson’s.<br />

A new ‘blueprint’ reveals inner workings <strong>of</strong> drug target<br />

A team led by Dr. Wei Lü and Dr. Juan Du has for the first time<br />

described the near-atomic level structure <strong>of</strong> the pannexin1<br />

channel. The molecular pathway plays critical roles in human<br />

development, blood pressure regulation, inflammation and cell<br />

death. Their findings, published in Nature, serve as a “blueprint”<br />

for developing new medications for a host <strong>of</strong> conditions, such as<br />

cancer and heart disease.<br />

2 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Newly discovered potential biomarker could ‘flag’ tumors<br />

sensitive to metabolic therapy<br />

A recently identified potential biomarker could help scientists<br />

pinpoint which cancers are vulnerable to treatment with<br />

biguanides, a common class <strong>of</strong> medications used to control blood<br />

sugar in Type 2 diabetes. Biguanides have long been <strong>of</strong> interest<br />

to cancer researchers because <strong>of</strong> their ability to target cellular<br />

metabolism, which fuels the growth and spread <strong>of</strong> malignant cells.<br />

The discovery, published by Dr. Russell Jones and collaborators,<br />

may give scientists a way to objectively determine which types <strong>of</strong><br />

cancer are sensitive to biguanide treatment and illuminates how<br />

and why some patients may respond better to biguanides than<br />

other patients.<br />

First detailed images <strong>of</strong> ‘molecular machine’ provide<br />

foundation for new therapies<br />

Dr. Huilin Li and his team have revealed the first known atomic<br />

structure <strong>of</strong> a “molecular machine” responsible for installing critical<br />

signaling proteins into cellular membranes. The findings, published<br />

in Nature, shed new light on how this process works and lay the<br />

foundation for potential future therapies for diseases like cancer,<br />

Alzheimer’s and cystic fibrosis.<br />

Releasing a molecular ‘brake’ kick-starts immune cell function<br />

The immune system’s ability to marshal specialized cells to fight<br />

<strong>of</strong>f infection relies in part on tiny molecules called microRNAs,<br />

which act as a release for the “brakes” that keep cells dormant<br />

until needed, according to a study by Dr. Connie Krawczyk and<br />

collaborators. The findings reveal new insights into the nuts<br />

and bolts <strong>of</strong> immune function and add to a growing body <strong>of</strong><br />

knowledge that could one day be leveraged to optimize vaccines or<br />

immunotherapies for a number <strong>of</strong> diseases.<br />

Early career scientists adapt to working remotely by taking<br />

science virtual<br />

For many scientists, working from home was a temporary transition<br />

away from hands-on research in the lab to more virtual projects<br />

like data analysis. As a way to ensure continued scientific discussion<br />

and collaboration, VAI postdoctoral fellows Dr. Michaela Johnson<br />

and Dr. Liza Bergkvist teamed up with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust<br />

and World Parkinson Coalition to establish the Parkinson Postdoc<br />

Program seminar series, or 3P Seminars. Launched in April, the<br />

interactive, virtual seminars give early career researchers who study<br />

neurodegenerative diseases a way to keep the intellectual part <strong>of</strong><br />

research alive by connecting with others in their field and providing<br />

space for them to practice presenting their work.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 3


RESEARCH<br />

Remembering Dr. Viviane Labrie<br />

Van Andel Institute mourns the loss <strong>of</strong> Associate Pr<strong>of</strong>essor<br />

Dr. Viviane Labrie, who passed away in a tragic vehicle<br />

accident August 21.<br />

Viviane was a brilliant, imaginative and creative scientist. Her ability<br />

to look at the world through different lenses allowed her to see old<br />

problems in new ways, and ultimately revealed groundbreaking<br />

insights with the potential to change lives.<br />

She quickly established herself as a globally recognized leader in<br />

her field. Although early in her career, Viviane already had made<br />

pioneering discoveries that are transforming the understanding <strong>of</strong><br />

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, including the revelation that<br />

the appendix may be a starting point for Parkinson’s. Her findings<br />

led to exciting new avenues <strong>of</strong> discovery for potential treatments<br />

for these diseases, and shed light on the underpinnings <strong>of</strong> many<br />

other conditions, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and<br />

lactose intolerance. She made an indelible mark on science, her<br />

colleagues and those she mentored, and her impact will be felt for<br />

years to come.<br />

Viviane was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and grew up in the small town<br />

<strong>of</strong> Deep River, Ontario. Her childhood interest in science and the<br />

natural world later blossomed into a fascination with the brain. She<br />

completed her bachelor’s degree in human biology (with honors),<br />

her Ph.D. in genetics and neuroscience and her postdoctoral<br />

research at University <strong>of</strong> Toronto. She held her first faculty position<br />

in Toronto before joining Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids,<br />

Michigan, in 2016 as an assistant pr<strong>of</strong>essor.<br />

Innately curious, Viviane’s creativity and tenacity were immediately<br />

evident and energizing to those around her. She rapidly<br />

advanced, earning an early promotion to associate pr<strong>of</strong>essor in<br />

2019 — a tremendous achievement. Throughout her career, she<br />

earned numerous scientific awards and honors, including highly<br />

competitive grants from the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health and<br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Defense.<br />

Outside <strong>of</strong> the lab, Viviane was a passionate and accomplished<br />

equestrian who competed in national events in the U.S. and<br />

Canada, including a combination <strong>of</strong> cross country, dressage and<br />

show jumping. She had an adventurous spirit, and was an avid<br />

world traveler who had visited all seven continents. She also had<br />

a lifelong passion for animals, and had a horse, Logan, three large<br />

dogs — Mudflap, Nugen and City — and many cats.<br />

Her enthusiasm and zest for life was contagious. Simply being in<br />

Viviane’s presence inspired others to rise to the challenge and to<br />

embrace the world with open arms.<br />

Viviane is survived by her beloved husband, David Walters; her<br />

parents, Louise Boileau-Labrie and Jean-Pierre Labrie; and her<br />

brother, Marc Labrie. She will be remembered by family, friends<br />

and colleagues around the world for her vibrancy, brilliance and<br />

kindness.<br />

RECENT BREAKTHROUGHS<br />

Dr. Labrie was an exceptional scientist whose research shed new light on conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, bipolar<br />

disorder, schizophrenia and lactose intolerance. In recent months, she spearheaded several new breakthroughs that are<br />

shifting our understanding <strong>of</strong> neurological disorders and the brain.<br />

Being ‘right-brained’ or ‘left-brained’ may come down<br />

to molecular switches<br />

A team led by Dr. Labrie may have solved one <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

puzzling and persistent mysteries in neuroscience: why<br />

some people are “right-brained” while others are “leftbrained.”<br />

The answer lies in how certain genes on each side<br />

<strong>of</strong> the brain are switched “on” and “<strong>of</strong>f” through a process<br />

called epigenetic regulation. The findings could explain<br />

why Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders<br />

frequently affect one side <strong>of</strong> the body first, a revelation<br />

that has far-reaching implications for development <strong>of</strong><br />

potential future treatments.<br />

Switching <strong>of</strong>f ‘master regulator’ may shield the brain<br />

from Parkinson’s-related damage<br />

Switching <strong>of</strong>f a molecular “master regulator” called TET2<br />

may protect the brain from inflammatory damage and<br />

neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease, reported<br />

a study by Dr. Labrie and colleagues. The study is the<br />

first <strong>of</strong> its kind and points to an entirely new avenue for<br />

developing therapies designed to preserve vulnerable<br />

brain cells in Parkinson’s disease. Currently, there are no<br />

effective ways to prevent Parkinson’s or to slow or stop its<br />

progression.<br />

4 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


DR. VIVIANE LABRIE<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 5


RESEARCH<br />

Graduate School doubles down on<br />

student support and global impact<br />

amid pandemic<br />

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a novel challenge to Van Andel<br />

Institute Graduate School this year: How could VAI continue to<br />

provide students with rigorous, problem-based coursework and<br />

extensive laboratory experience, while largely working from home?<br />

Connecting and communicating<br />

The Institute’s faculty don’t simply lecture at their classes and<br />

leave the rest up to the students; rather, they strive to engage with<br />

students directly. To combat the challenges created by engaging via<br />

virtual platforms, Graduate School faculty and staff connected with<br />

students in several virtual town halls, providing space to discuss<br />

concerns, challenges and resources to help the students transition<br />

to remote learning.<br />

“Our students are adapting to at-home work environments that<br />

aren’t necessarily conducive to rigorous learning,” said Dr. John<br />

Vasquez, director <strong>of</strong> assessment and pr<strong>of</strong>essional development.<br />

“There are many more distractions at home, and each student<br />

faces their own unique set <strong>of</strong> disruptions. The same is true for<br />

our faculty, and many have had to adapt to these less than ideal<br />

conditions.”<br />

The support <strong>of</strong> peers and colleagues helped Graduate School<br />

students and faculty alike rise to the challenge and adapt to everchanging<br />

circumstances. Surveys were sent periodically to check in<br />

on students, identify new stressors and pinpoint where faculty and<br />

staff could help.<br />

“I’ve realized how much my graduate school experience is enriched<br />

by my peers. This support would take the form <strong>of</strong> unplanned<br />

discussions over lunch and in the elevator, for example,” said Nadia<br />

Dehghani, a second-year graduate student in Dr. Rita Guerreiro’s<br />

lab. “VAI has worked hard to find simple yet creative ways to<br />

maintain this important component <strong>of</strong> student life for those <strong>of</strong> us<br />

that are here now and the cohorts that will join in the future.”<br />

DR. JOHN VASQUEZ<br />

“A number <strong>of</strong> students were asked<br />

by Spectrum Health if any would be<br />

interested in working on a COVID-19<br />

literature review. A lot <strong>of</strong> the students are<br />

still engaged in this process — reading<br />

material and providing feedback on<br />

which scientific articles may benefit the<br />

physicians treating patients.”<br />

— Dr. John Vasquez<br />

6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Continuing to provide support<br />

The Graduate School hosted its annual Stress Management Week<br />

in a completely virtual format, thanks to the hard work <strong>of</strong> Allison<br />

Roman, director <strong>of</strong> student support services; resources covered<br />

topics such as self-care routines, meditation, journaling and<br />

processing grief. Graduate School Dean Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg<br />

reserved open <strong>of</strong>fice time on Zoom each week for students to drop<br />

in with individual or general questions. Relevant questions (and<br />

responses) were also shared online so other students could benefit<br />

from the information.<br />

The support continued outside the classroom and Institute.<br />

“A number <strong>of</strong> students were asked by Spectrum Health if any would<br />

be interested in working on a COVID-19 literature review,” Vasquez<br />

said. “A lot <strong>of</strong> the students are still engaged in this process —<br />

reading material and providing feedback on which scientific articles<br />

may benefit the physicians treating patients. There’s emotional and<br />

mental wear in this, but our students are resilient, innovative and<br />

making great use <strong>of</strong> the scientist-leader skills we’ve helped them<br />

develop to contribute to the greater community.”<br />

Reimagining normal<br />

Earlier in the year, the Graduate School expected eight students<br />

would complete degrees in <strong>2020</strong>; it is now likely, though, that four<br />

will postpone degree completion until at least 2021. Seven new<br />

students joined the Graduate School in August, and it’s uncertain<br />

at this point what challenges future cohorts will face. One thing,<br />

though, is clear:<br />

“Even with all <strong>of</strong> the unknowns, our students continue to rise to the<br />

challenge,” said Christy Mayo, director <strong>of</strong> enrollment and records.<br />

“I get to see every single week how they continue to support one<br />

another and to adapt. I’m proud <strong>of</strong> their dedication to not only their<br />

work and their education, but to each other.”<br />

LOOKING AHEAD<br />

The Graduate School will soon make the move to a<br />

nearby building on VAI’s campus to accommodate<br />

larger incoming cohorts. “We’re expecting<br />

Graduate School cohorts will double in size in the<br />

coming years, so it was time to dedicate more<br />

space for our students,” said Graduate School<br />

Dean Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg. The new building<br />

will include dedicated classroom and study spaces,<br />

social areas, faculty and staff <strong>of</strong>fices, and more.<br />

DR. STEVEN J. TRIEZENBERG<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 7


EDUCATION<br />

Van Andel Institute for Education helps<br />

students, teachers adapt to distance learning<br />

The abrupt closure <strong>of</strong> schools to slow the spread <strong>of</strong> the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic created monumental challenges for<br />

students, teachers and parents. Educators were under<br />

immense pressure to shift to online distance learning,<br />

and families hurriedly rearranged their daily routines to<br />

accommodate the new learning environment.<br />

This shift posed big questions for Van Andel Institute for<br />

Education. Months <strong>of</strong> planning for student and teacher programs,<br />

which largely take place at VAI’s Education labs in downtown<br />

Grand Rapids, went out the window — the in-person learning<br />

experiences that underpin the Institute’s educational <strong>of</strong>ferings<br />

were no longer possible, so VAI’s Education team had to get<br />

creative.<br />

“Switching to virtual on a dime definitely posed some obstacles,<br />

but we thrive on problem-solving; so, we embraced the challenge<br />

and discovered innovative ways to keep both students and<br />

teachers fully engaged in remote environments,” said VAI Chief<br />

Education Officer Terra Tarango. “Within weeks, we had students<br />

conducting science right out <strong>of</strong> their homes and we supported<br />

more than 600 teachers with meaningful projects that they can lead<br />

via remote setting.”<br />

Keep Curiosity Alive<br />

The day after schools shut down, Education rolled out a dynamic<br />

resource called “Keep Curiosity Alive,” curated in Google Docs.<br />

It linked to numerous thoughtful activities that could be done at<br />

home and was updated every week throughout the remainder <strong>of</strong><br />

the school year with new items.<br />

In the course <strong>of</strong> days, hundreds <strong>of</strong> people accessed the document<br />

for fun and innovative projects. It was a welcome resource for both<br />

educators and parents who were themselves learning how to adapt<br />

to virtual-only learning.<br />

Virtual student programs<br />

Student summer camps normally are held in-person at the Institute,<br />

over the course <strong>of</strong> a week. This summer, VAI transitioned to a virtual<br />

format to engage students from the safety <strong>of</strong> their homes. The<br />

Blue Apple goes virtual<br />

The Institute’s educators adapted each <strong>of</strong> VAI’s Blue<br />

Apple project-based learning units — originally<br />

designed for in-person learning — to include<br />

instructions for how to conduct them virtually or in a<br />

blended learning environment.<br />

After schools closed to in-person learning, the<br />

Institute piloted this new approach by rolling out a<br />

virtual version <strong>of</strong> the “Prevent the Spread” Blue Apple<br />

project, where students learn about germs and their<br />

own unique ability to stop the spread <strong>of</strong> illnesses like<br />

COVID-19 by adopting good hygiene practices.<br />

The projects are available for purchase at<br />

blueappleteacher.org.<br />

8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


“Switching to virtual on a<br />

dime definitely posed some<br />

obstacles, but we thrive on<br />

problem-solving; so, we<br />

embraced the challenge and<br />

discovered innovative ways<br />

to keep both students and<br />

teachers fully engaged in<br />

remote environments.”<br />

— Terra Tarango<br />

Institute’s educators created supply kits that were safely picked up<br />

by families at VAI’s Education building, so that virtual learning could<br />

still be hands-on and inquiry-based.<br />

The Institute also is adapting its popular Afterschool Cohort and<br />

Science on Saturday programs to be held virtually.<br />

Teacher programs go online<br />

The Education team has hosted pr<strong>of</strong>essional development<br />

webinars since 2017. At the outset <strong>of</strong> the pandemic, Education<br />

adapted the webinars to help teachers and administrators<br />

grappling with how to effectively implement distance learning. Over<br />

the summer, Education saw explosive growth in registration and<br />

participation, with 1,462 registrants between April and August.<br />

TERRA TARANGO<br />

meetings, and sessions can be delivered as one-hour, in-person or<br />

virtual meetings. This allows VAI to meet educators’ needs in terms<br />

<strong>of</strong> content, schedule and budget.<br />

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

teacher programs, visit vaei.org.<br />

This fall, Education’s pr<strong>of</strong>essional development seminars for<br />

teachers will be <strong>of</strong>fered virtually. VAI’s Flex PD <strong>of</strong>fers an assortment<br />

<strong>of</strong> topics important to educators in a variety <strong>of</strong> formats. Full-day<br />

workshops can be delivered in-person or in a series <strong>of</strong> virtual<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 9


PURPLE COMMUNITY<br />

The pandemic threatened the Bee Brave 5K —<br />

Pat Ringnalda is fighting for its future<br />

Pat Ringnalda was certain <strong>2020</strong> would be the year she retired<br />

from her daily duties helming Bee Brave — well, as “retired”<br />

as a consummate self-starter can be. She would pass the torch<br />

on day-to-day administrative duties at the organization, which<br />

champions breast cancer patients and survivors and raises tens <strong>of</strong><br />

thousands <strong>of</strong> dollars each year through the Bee Brave 5K to benefit<br />

research at Van Andel Institute.<br />

Ringnalda and her team have built Bee Brave into a community<br />

institution and fundraising juggernaut. In 2017, Bee Brave <strong>of</strong>ficially<br />

partnered with Van Andel Institute Purple Community, the Institute’s<br />

grassroots community support network. Ringnalda chose to partner<br />

When the first 5K was hosted in 2008, Ringnalda thought it would<br />

be a one-<strong>of</strong>f; she would raise around $500 for breast cancer<br />

research, and that would be that. The event proved successful, so<br />

she hosted another the year after that. And the year after that. And<br />

the year after that.<br />

“You could tell the energy was behind our cause,” Ringnalda said<br />

<strong>of</strong> the race’s earliest years. “It’s gone on for 13 years. That’s not<br />

because <strong>of</strong> me; that’s because <strong>of</strong> the community and the people<br />

who have rallied behind our cause. It’s such a unique and beautiful<br />

organization <strong>of</strong> people.”<br />

“You could tell the energy was behind our cause. It’s gone on for 13 years. That’s<br />

not because <strong>of</strong> me; that’s because <strong>of</strong> the community and the people who have<br />

rallied behind our cause. It’s such a unique and beautiful organization <strong>of</strong> people.”<br />

— PAT RINGNALDA<br />

with Purple Community after she learned 100% <strong>of</strong> the proceeds<br />

from race day would go directly to research at the Institute.<br />

Though she would retire from the day-to-day operations, Ringnalda<br />

planned to stay on in some capacity, providing help on race days<br />

and continuing to drum up support from the sponsors who have<br />

supported Bee Brave’s mission all these years.<br />

That was the plan before the COVID-19 pandemic, before the world<br />

ground to a halt in the face <strong>of</strong> a new and deadly threat. Suddenly,<br />

for Ringnalda, <strong>2020</strong> was no longer about retiring. It was about<br />

ensuring the race’s survival.<br />

“It’s like you’re running a race in a mud pond,” Ringnalda said<br />

<strong>of</strong> organizing the 5K amid a pandemic. “You can have all the<br />

momentum and all the great ideas you want, but when there’s no<br />

ability to do anything but stay home, what do you do?”<br />

By partnering with the Institute and Purple Community, Ringnalda<br />

was able to elevate the Bee Brave 5K from a race that had raised<br />

around $50,000 each year for research to an event that brought in<br />

$90,000 at its peak in 2018.<br />

“I knew our cause and the money we raised would jump that much<br />

higher, because I could say without a shadow <strong>of</strong> a doubt that our<br />

money was staying in West Michigan,” Ringnalda said. “I don’t think<br />

people know just how amazing it is to have Van Andel Institute and<br />

Purple Community right here in Grand Rapids.”<br />

To learn more about Van Andel Institute Purple Community and Bee<br />

Brave, visit purplecommunity.org.<br />

Like everything else, things looked different this year. The 13th<br />

annual Bee Brave 5K was hosted on Oct. 10, in accordance with<br />

state guidelines, with a virtual option available. Ringnalda doesn’t<br />

know what the future holds as far as her retirement goes. That will<br />

play out in due course. Looking back over the decade-plus she’s<br />

spent organizing the race, she’s struck by how it’s grown.<br />

10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


MEMORIES FROM THE 2018 BEE BRAVE 5K: PAT RINGNALDA JOINS A GROUP OF 5K PARTICIPANTS;<br />

PATRICK DISCHINGER, DR. MATT STEENSMA, MENUSHA ARUMUGAM & PAT RINGNALDA<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 11


EVENTS<br />

<strong>Winter</strong>fest Celebration<br />

As one <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute’s final public events held prior<br />

to the transition to virtual events, the 15th annual <strong>Winter</strong>fest<br />

Celebration gave more than 400 donors, supporters and<br />

scientists the opportunity to gather for an evening <strong>of</strong> food,<br />

entertainment and insights — all in support <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s<br />

disease research. Attendees enjoyed culinary delights from<br />

local restaurants and cocktails at Cascade Hills Country Club,<br />

accompanied by musical entertainment, a live and silent auction<br />

and a special appearance and remarks by Parkinson’s advocate<br />

Ron Rutkowski. In its 15-year history, this signature event has raised<br />

more than $2.1 million to benefit Parkinson’s research at VAI.<br />

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) GEORGE & MISSY SHARPE WITH CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL;<br />

GEOFF & LEEANNE WIDLAK & GUESTS SOCIALIZE; JASON LAMOREAUX; MIKE & SALLY MURDOCK WITH JIM & DIANE ZUBKAS; SILENT AUCTION ITEMS;<br />

GUESTS GATHERED FOR EVENING PRESENTATIONS; RON RUTKOWSKI<br />

12 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


VAI Forum on Parkinson’s,<br />

Alzheimer’s & Lewy Body Dementia<br />

In <strong>2020</strong>, the Van Andel Institute Forum on Parkinson’s,<br />

Alzheimer’s & Lewy Body Dementia was held in Naples, Florida<br />

— a welcome respite from the cold <strong>of</strong> a Michigan February.<br />

The evening — hosted by Mike and Lynette Ellis and Mike and<br />

Sue Jandernoa — featured presentations by VAI Chief Scientific<br />

Officer Dr. Peter A. Jones and VAI associate pr<strong>of</strong>essors and<br />

neurodegenerative disease experts Dr. José Brás and<br />

Dr. Rita Guerreiro. A Q&A after the presentations gave attendees<br />

the chance to further explore how Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and<br />

Lewy body dementia are related and the significant strides being<br />

made toward the development <strong>of</strong> new diagnostics and therapies.<br />

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE)<br />

MIKE JANDERNOA; DAVID VAN ANDEL, DAN GAYDOU, DAVE VAN PORTFLIET &<br />

JOHN ROWERDINK; MIKE & LYNETTE ELLIS, DR. RITA GUERREIRO,<br />

DR. JOSÉ BRÁS & MIKE & SUE JANDERNOA; ERIC HAUSLER, PETE JOUWSTRA &<br />

DONNA HAUSLER; DR. RITA GUERREIRO SOCIALIZES WITH SUE JANDERNOA<br />

& KAREN CUSTER; DAVID VAN ANDEL, DR. RITA GUERREIRO & DR. JOSÉ BRÁS;<br />

GUESTS SOCIALIZE AT GREY OAKS COUNTRY CLUB IN NAPLES, FLORIDA<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 13


EVENTS<br />

VAI Public Lecture Series:<br />

A Focus on Cancer Research Trends<br />

This public lecture took place at Van Andel Institute in March<br />

<strong>2020</strong>, prior to state physical distancing guidelines developed<br />

in response to COVID-19, and featured insights from Chief<br />

Scientific Officer Dr. Peter A. Jones. In his presentation, Dr. Jones<br />

— an internationally recognized cancer expert — presented the<br />

latest trends in cancer research and provided attendees with a<br />

broad view <strong>of</strong> what research and treatment may look like in<br />

the future.<br />

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) ATTENDEES ASK QUESTIONS FOLLOWING THE<br />

PRESENTATIONS; VICKY LUDEMA & GUESTS TAKE PART IN COMPLIMENTARY LUNCH OFFERINGS;<br />

DR. PETER A. JONES; STEVE OZINGA WELCOMES GUESTS IN TOMATIS AUDITORIUM<br />

14 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Board <strong>of</strong> Governors Dinner<br />

Van Andel Institute’s annual Board <strong>of</strong> Governors Dinner went<br />

virtual for <strong>2020</strong>. Specially selected Cooper’s Hawk wine and<br />

mini Bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes were available<br />

for members <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s Board <strong>of</strong> Governors to enjoy<br />

from the comfort <strong>of</strong> their homes while hearing the latest<br />

updates from VAI. The evening featured presentations by<br />

Chairman and CEO David Van Andel and Carol Van Andel, Executive<br />

Director <strong>of</strong> the David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation; Chief<br />

Scientific Officer Dr. Peter A. Jones; and Chief Education Officer<br />

Terra Tarango.<br />

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) KATHY & PHIL VOGELSANG;<br />

GEORGE & MISSY SHARPE; MISSY SHARPE PICKS UP COMPLIMENTARY MINI<br />

BUNDT CAKES PRIOR TO THE EVENING; PICKUP STATION AT COOPER’S<br />

HAWK WINERY & RESTAURANT IN KENTWOOD, MICHIGAN.; VICKY LUDEMA<br />

PICKS UP COOPER’S HAWK WINE PROVIDED TO GUESTS PRIOR TO FESTIVITIES<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 15


PHILANTHROPY<br />

Thank you to our generous event sponsors!<br />

To learn more about sponsoring an event, contact Sarah Rollman at sarah.rollman@vai.org.<br />

<strong>Winter</strong>fest<br />

Buist Electric<br />

AIC Insurance Services<br />

Steven & Amanda Barbour<br />

Barnes & Thornburg LLP<br />

BD’s BBQ<br />

Brody’s Be Café<br />

Calamos Investments<br />

Carnelian Energy Capital<br />

Corporate Cocktail Co.<br />

Cumulus Media<br />

Custer Inc.<br />

Deloitte<br />

Mike & Jean Dery<br />

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh<br />

Edge Natural Resources<br />

Engelsma Homes LLC<br />

Erhardt Construction<br />

Ernst & Young<br />

Grand Rapids Business Journal<br />

Grand Rapids Christian Schools<br />

Harvey Automotive<br />

HB Wealth Management<br />

iHeart Media<br />

Macatawa Bank<br />

McShane & Bowie, PLC<br />

Michigan State University –<br />

College <strong>of</strong> Human Medicine<br />

Nothing Bundt Cakes<br />

Oppenheimer & Company Inc.<br />

Michael J. Murdock<br />

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.<br />

Palio<br />

Perper Design<br />

Pioneer Construction<br />

PL Capital Advisors, LLC<br />

Reds at Thousand Oaks<br />

Rockford Construction<br />

Rycenga Building Center<br />

San Chez Bistro<br />

Slows BBQ<br />

Straight Line Design<br />

Suburban Landscapes<br />

The Chop House<br />

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck<br />

Sharpe<br />

TKS Security<br />

Townsquare<br />

Trillium Ventures<br />

US Signal<br />

Vintage Prime & Seafood<br />

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP<br />

West Michigan Woman<br />

Ge<strong>of</strong>f & LeeAnne Widlak<br />

Robert & Karen Wiltz<br />

Women’s Lifestyle<br />

16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Memorials<br />

We appreciate your trust in us to fight disease in memory or in honor <strong>of</strong><br />

your family and friends — with hope for a healthier tomorrow. To make a<br />

gift in memory or honor <strong>of</strong> a loved one, please call 616.234.5552.<br />

James Barcelona<br />

Linda Colvin<br />

Robert Geer<br />

Angeline Meulendyk<br />

Lorraine Stone<br />

Rob & Katie Barcelona<br />

Amanda Maxted<br />

Dave & Cindy Brown<br />

Gary Berkenpas<br />

Wally & Nina Gorak<br />

Roland Barchinger<br />

Mary Lou Cook<br />

James Goen<br />

Benard Meyer<br />

Daniel Terwee<br />

David & Carolyn Setsma<br />

Jason & Melanie Seifert<br />

Norman & Sheryl Veldh<strong>of</strong>f<br />

David & Sallie Brinks<br />

Janice Wisniewski<br />

Kristine “Kris” Beachum<br />

Thomas Cruttenden<br />

Bruce Lee Hansen<br />

Marlene Moore<br />

Timothy S. Vanderveen<br />

Adam Rodriguez<br />

Richard & Patricia Cebelak<br />

Patricia Ter Haar<br />

Mike & Nanci Marsman<br />

Ted & Joan Vanderveen<br />

Nicole Beuschel<br />

Karen Foster<br />

Kelly Havrilla<br />

Lorraine Nezwek Green<br />

Rebecca Vogelsang<br />

James & Sue Baar<br />

Jones Barton<br />

Jason & Cindy Dawes<br />

Lynn Archer<br />

Stephen & Jennifer Czech<br />

Daniel Bullard<br />

Saad & Rana Sammani<br />

Betty Bowser<br />

Zach Detweiler<br />

Elaine Henning<br />

Holli Todd<br />

Randy Winchester<br />

Irwin Seating Company<br />

David Keifer<br />

Susan Henning<br />

Susanne Woyciechowicz<br />

Chuck & Lois Winchester<br />

Jack & Maria Kindred<br />

Russell Brinks<br />

Christopher Klein<br />

Ronald Hutchings<br />

Austachio Plantamura<br />

Jerry Wright<br />

Connie Beverly<br />

Adam & Kim Thomas<br />

Doug & Kelly Hutchings<br />

Joseph Plantamura &<br />

RT London<br />

Jared & Debbie Warrick<br />

Carol Limberg<br />

Julie Greene<br />

Dolores Burr<br />

Matthew & Jena <strong>Winter</strong>s<br />

Sean & Lindsey Schemmel<br />

Nicole Wyble<br />

David & Tamara Kroll<br />

David Ristow<br />

Louis & Sue Robach<br />

Margaret Frey<br />

Thom Ly<br />

David & Sallie Brinks<br />

Jeff Colby<br />

David & Tamara Kroll<br />

Nickolina Ly<br />

John & Nancy Gormley<br />

Tributes<br />

Lee Formwalt<br />

Sanders Foundation<br />

Pete McAlpin<br />

David Smith &<br />

Peggy Child Smith<br />

Diane Sampson<br />

Mike & Amanda Powers<br />

These lists represent gifts made between Jan. 1, <strong>2020</strong>, and<br />

June 30, <strong>2020</strong>. The accuracy <strong>of</strong> these lists is very important to<br />

us. Please call 616.234.5552 if an error has been made.<br />

Jerry Genzink<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Roger & Sharon Sneller<br />

David & Jane Munn<br />

James & Gail Fahner<br />

Herberth & Ann Alvarado<br />

Michael & Susan<br />

Jandernoa<br />

Erin Overmeyer<br />

Duke Suwyn<br />

Amir Williams<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 17


PHILANTHROPY<br />

Engineering a lasting legacy: The Thomas &<br />

Garretta Newh<strong>of</strong>/Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong> Research Fund<br />

West Michigan engineering firm<br />

Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong> marked 50 years in<br />

business in late 2019. To celebrate,<br />

company leaders wanted to find a<br />

way to honor the firm’s co-founder,<br />

Thomas Newh<strong>of</strong>, while giving back to the<br />

community. When they heard about<br />

Van Andel Institute’s Scored Grant Award<br />

Program, they chose to establish a research<br />

fund to support it.<br />

“We learned from VAI’s Chief Scientific<br />

Officer Dr. Peter A. Jones how the Scored<br />

Grant Award Program works and that there<br />

were four scientists with great projects that<br />

needed support in <strong>2020</strong>,” Newh<strong>of</strong> said. “We<br />

wanted to help make sure that they all could<br />

keep advancing their projects.”<br />

Highly competitive grants from federal<br />

agencies like the National Institutes <strong>of</strong><br />

Health are one <strong>of</strong> the main ways scientific<br />

research in the U.S. is funded. The Institute’s<br />

Scored Grant Award Program provides<br />

research funding to scientists whose federal<br />

grant applications scored very highly, but<br />

just below the threshold to receive federal<br />

funding. With an extra boost to conduct<br />

With an extra boost<br />

to conduct further<br />

research, scientists<br />

with promising projects<br />

get another chance<br />

to put forth a revised<br />

application for the<br />

next round <strong>of</strong> federal<br />

grants.<br />

further research, scientists with promising<br />

projects get another chance to put forth a<br />

revised application for the next round <strong>of</strong><br />

federal grants.<br />

After learning about the groundbreaking<br />

research at VAI that benefits from<br />

the Scored Grant Award Program,<br />

Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong> established the Thomas &<br />

Garretta Newh<strong>of</strong>/Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong> Research<br />

GARRETTA & THOMAS NEWHOF<br />

18 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


(continued from page 18)<br />

Fund to support the Scored Grant Award<br />

Program. The fund’s name also honors<br />

Tom’s wife, Garretta, for her unwavering<br />

commitment to the company’s success.<br />

“At Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong>, we work with<br />

communities to provide Michigan residents<br />

with safe drinking water and wastewater<br />

systems — both <strong>of</strong> which are essential for<br />

public health,” said Thomas J. Newh<strong>of</strong>, the<br />

company’s president and son <strong>of</strong> Thomas<br />

and Garretta.<br />

It’s here that Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong>’s goals overlap<br />

with VAI’s mission <strong>of</strong> improving the health<br />

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

future generations.<br />

Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong> also invited its 150<br />

employees to support the fund, and<br />

Thomas and Garretta contributed a<br />

generous gift <strong>of</strong> their own. The combined<br />

gifts from Prein&Newh<strong>of</strong> and matching<br />

dollars from VAI in <strong>2020</strong> are supporting the<br />

critical research pursued in the labs <strong>of</strong><br />

Drs. Laird, Shi, Steensma and Wen.<br />

For more information on how you can help<br />

fund groundbreaking research at Van Andel<br />

Institute, please contact Chief Philanthropy<br />

Officer Brett Holleman at<br />

brett.holleman@vai.org or 616-234-5045.<br />

VAI Voice delivers our<br />

scientists and educators<br />

right to your inbox<br />

Stay updated on Van Andel Institute news and happenings<br />

by subscribing to the VAI Voice blog. It’s an easy way to be<br />

informed <strong>of</strong> the important research and education initiatives<br />

happening every day at VAI.<br />

Here are some examples <strong>of</strong> what to expect:<br />

• Informative articles about our research in areas like cancer,<br />

Parkinson’s and metabolism<br />

• Q&As with Institute scientists, graduate students<br />

and educators<br />

• Easy-to-understand explainers on the diseases and<br />

disorders studied at the Institute<br />

• Updates on K–12 education programs from Van Andel<br />

Institute for Education<br />

• Insights into Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s<br />

innovative Ph.D. program<br />

• Recaps <strong>of</strong> scientific and educational events held at<br />

the Institute<br />

And more!<br />

To subscribe to the VAI Voice blog, visit vai.org/vai-voice.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 19


PHILANTHROPY<br />

Support VAI through an IRA<br />

charitable rollover<br />

Supporting Van Andel Institute with an IRA<br />

charitable rollover gift helps our scientists<br />

and educators continue their work toward<br />

improving the health and enhancing the lives<br />

<strong>of</strong> current and future generations. You can also<br />

designate VAI as a beneficiary <strong>of</strong> your IRA.<br />

An IRA charitable rollover allows any individual who<br />

is age 70.5 or older to transfer up to $100,000 from<br />

their IRA directly to a nonpr<strong>of</strong>it such as VAI this year.<br />

You will pay no taxes on the transfer, and every<br />

dollar <strong>of</strong> your gift goes directly to the Institute’s<br />

research laboratories and education programs.<br />

Your Support<br />

We built our organization knowing that small<br />

gestures make big differences. An IRA charitable<br />

rollover gift, no matter the size, has the potential to<br />

transform an idea from the minds <strong>of</strong> our scientists<br />

into a discovery that could make a lasting and<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>ound impact on human health.<br />

For more information about making an IRA<br />

charitable rollover gift or including VAI as a<br />

beneficiary <strong>of</strong> your IRA, please contact:<br />

Kate Frillmann, Philanthropy Director<br />

616.234.5515<br />

kate.frillmann@vai.org<br />

Steve Ozinga, Philanthropy Director<br />

616.234.5040<br />

steve.ozinga@vai.org

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