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2021 Spring/Summer Highlights of Hope

The 2021 Spring/Summer edition of Van Andel Institute's Highlights of Hope donor publication.

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HIGHLIGHTS OF<br />

HOPE<br />

SPRING/SUMMER ’21 ISSUE<br />

2 VAI Charts an Ambitious Path Forward 3 Parkinson’s Research Updates<br />

4 Meet the Scientist Behind the Science 5 Cancer Research Updates<br />

6 GCPD Goes Virtual 7 Understanding How Brain Cells Maintain Balance<br />

8 Graduate School Student Spotlight 9 Graduate School Updates<br />

10 Afterschool Cohort Goes Virtual 11 Education Updates<br />

12 Student Ambassador Program Adapts & Thrives<br />

14 Virtual Leadership Conferences Offer On-demand Science, Fun<br />

16 Events 24 Event Sponsors 26 Donor Spotlight: The Bassetts<br />

28 Scored Grant Program Updates 29 Memorials & Tributes


RESEARCH<br />

VAI charts an ambitious<br />

path forward<br />

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, Van Andel Institute is looking<br />

toward brighter years to come.<br />

Center — that serve as hubs for translating groundbreaking<br />

discoveries into clinical trials.<br />

Despite the challenges, this past fall the Institute finished outlining<br />

its new strategic vision for the next five years. This plan, called<br />

Research 4.0, lays out a bold vision for the future <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s<br />

research and builds on the strong foundations and success <strong>of</strong> the<br />

past — all made possible in part thanks to our donors and their<br />

steadfast dedication to our mission.<br />

Importantly, the plan affirms our focus on basic research discovery<br />

in epigenetics, neurodegenerative science, cell biology, structural<br />

biology and metabolism. It also renews our commitment to cancer<br />

and Parkinson’s through the establishment <strong>of</strong> two new Focal<br />

Centers — the VAI Cancer Center and the VAI Parkinson’s Disease<br />

In addition, Research 4.0 kick-started an ambitious campaign to<br />

recruit new scientists to the Institute in order to grow our scientific<br />

capacity and broaden our impact.<br />

“Impacting human health through groundbreaking research is<br />

at the heart <strong>of</strong> VAI’s mission,” said Dr. Peter A. Jones, VAI’s chief<br />

scientific <strong>of</strong>ficer. “Research 4.0 sets the stage for the Institute’s<br />

future and is an important reminder <strong>of</strong> how far we’ve come,<br />

particularly as we gear up to celebrate VAI’s 25th anniversary. There<br />

are great things on the horizon and, together, we can make the<br />

world a better place.”<br />

Teaming up against Parkinson’s<br />

In 2020, VAI and Cure Parkinson’s (formerly The Cure Parkinson’s Trust) welcomed a new partner — the John Black Charitable<br />

Foundation — to our collaborative endeavor to find life-changing treatments for Parkinson’s.<br />

Together, we are thrilled to collaborate on the International Linked Clinical Trials initiative, which supports clinical trials that repurpose<br />

medications developed to treat other diseases and have shown potential to slow or stop Parkinson’s progression — something no existing<br />

treatment can do. The strategic partnership is now worth $6.75 million.<br />

2 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Making progress against Parkinson’s<br />

When it comes to studying Parkinson’s, VAI scientists take a<br />

comprehensive approach, from sleuthing out links between the<br />

gut, the immune system and the brain to parsing vast swaths<br />

<strong>of</strong> genetic information in search <strong>of</strong> clues. While our scientists’<br />

research may be complex, their goal is simple — to find ways to<br />

prevent the disease, to slow or stop progression and to give hope<br />

to people around the world.<br />

Scientists have a gut feeling about Parkinson’s<br />

VAI scientists who study Parkinson’s are looking in a surprising<br />

place for answers: the gut.<br />

While the gut and the brain may seem wildly different at first, a<br />

more in-depth look shows that their relationship is much closer<br />

than one would expect. In fact, they share so many connections<br />

that the gut is widely considered to be the body’s “second brain.”<br />

It makes sense, then, that science is increasingly pointing to the<br />

gut for insights into Parkinson’s. For example, earlier this year,<br />

VAI scientists and their colleagues found that abnormal shifts<br />

in the vast population <strong>of</strong> helpful microbes in the gut may tilt the<br />

production <strong>of</strong> digestive acids toward more toxic forms.<br />

Importantly, these shifts were seen only in people with Parkinson’s<br />

and not in people without the disease, a key difference suggesting<br />

that these acids could provide a new way to diagnose Parkinson’s<br />

early and track its progression. The insights may even lead to new<br />

opportunities for developing treatments that impede Parkinson’srelated<br />

changes in the gut, and possibly for slowing or stopping<br />

disease onset and progression.<br />

The research was led by the late Dr. Viviane Labrie <strong>of</strong> VAI and<br />

collaborators Beaumont Health, Michigan State University College <strong>of</strong><br />

Human Medicine and Oregon Health & Science University. 1<br />

Connecting the dots between Parkinson’s and age<br />

Aging is one <strong>of</strong> the biggest risk factors in Parkinson’s, a connection<br />

that has been known for a long time. Yet the answer to one<br />

seemingly small but complex question remains unclear: Why?<br />

Now, scientists from VAI and the University <strong>of</strong> Minnesota Medical<br />

School are collaborating to root out clues, with the goal <strong>of</strong> one day<br />

developing new ways to promote healthy aging.<br />

Together, VAI’s Dr. Darren Moore and Dr. José Brás and University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Minnesota’s Dr. Michael Lee and Dr. Laura Niedernh<strong>of</strong>er seek<br />

to uncover the precise reasons why age increases the risk for<br />

developing Parkinson’s.<br />

Their innovative project is supported by a $6.2 million, three-year<br />

grant from the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s initiative, an<br />

international collaborative research effort partnering with<br />

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

implement its funding.<br />

1<br />

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute and the Farmer Family Foundation (P. Brundin,<br />

with L. Brundin, Pospisilik and Labrie as co-investigators). Labrie also held awards from the Department <strong>of</strong> Defense, National<br />

Institute <strong>of</strong> Neurological Disorders and Stroke <strong>of</strong> the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health and Michigan State University through<br />

the Gibby & Friends vs. Parky Parkinson’s Disease Research Award. Graham holds awards from the National Institute <strong>of</strong><br />

Neurological Disorders and Stroke <strong>of</strong> the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health, the National Institute on Aging <strong>of</strong> the National Institutes<br />

<strong>of</strong> Health, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Michael J. Fox Foundation.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 3


RESEARCH<br />

Meet the scientist behind<br />

the science:<br />

Dr. Michael Henderson<br />

Q:<br />

MH:<br />

In August, VAI welcomed Assistant<br />

Pr<strong>of</strong>essor Dr. Michael Henderson,<br />

an expert in Parkinson’s disease<br />

and dementia with Lewy bodies,<br />

a type <strong>of</strong> progressive dementia.<br />

For Henderson, studying the brain<br />

and unraveling its mysteries is a<br />

final frontier <strong>of</strong> sorts, one that holds<br />

immense potential for treating these<br />

diseases.<br />

How would you describe your<br />

research to someone without a<br />

scientific background?<br />

Maintaining a healthy brain is<br />

somewhat like maintaining a house.<br />

The original structure <strong>of</strong> the house<br />

is like your genes. The house may<br />

have a critical weakness (or gene<br />

mutation) that won’t matter for<br />

years. But eventually, as the house<br />

weathers storms and floods and sun<br />

and wind, the house wears down.<br />

That weakness becomes more<br />

important. The brain has a strong,<br />

redundant structure to protect it<br />

from most damage, but over time,<br />

these protections weaken and can<br />

be worsened by gene mutations.<br />

My research tries to find these<br />

Q:<br />

MH:<br />

Q:<br />

MH:<br />

weakened areas and identify a way<br />

to reinforce them so the brain can<br />

continue to function healthily into<br />

old age.<br />

What made you decide to come<br />

to VAI?<br />

Critical mass. Science is difficult,<br />

and a diversity <strong>of</strong> perspectives and<br />

technical expertise focused on<br />

similar goals is needed to move the<br />

field forward. VAI has assembled a<br />

team <strong>of</strong> world-renowned experts<br />

in neurodegenerative diseases.<br />

As an early career researcher, this<br />

critical mass <strong>of</strong> neurodegeneration<br />

researchers is especially important<br />

to help move my own research<br />

program forward.<br />

Where do you think research and<br />

treatment for Parkinson’s and<br />

dementia with Lewy bodies will be<br />

in 10 years?<br />

Researchers have developed a wide<br />

variety <strong>of</strong> therapies for Parkinson’s<br />

and dementia with Lewy bodies<br />

over the past decade. It is a very<br />

exciting time for therapy because<br />

many <strong>of</strong> these treatments are entering<br />

Phase II and III clinical trials. This<br />

means that, within a few years, we will<br />

learn if these therapies can change<br />

the course <strong>of</strong> disease. We are also<br />

getting more sophisticated about how<br />

we measure disease progression. In<br />

10 years, we will be closer than ever<br />

to disease-modifying treatments.<br />

Neurodegenerative diseases are<br />

complex and likely start decades<br />

before symptoms, so therapies may<br />

need to be started very early, or may<br />

only treat a subset <strong>of</strong> patients. That is<br />

why pursuing multiple research and<br />

treatment strategies is so critical.<br />

Learn more about Dr. Henderson and his<br />

research at hendersonlab.vai.org.<br />

“VAI has assembled a team <strong>of</strong> world experts in neurodegenerative<br />

diseases. As an early career researcher, this critical mass <strong>of</strong><br />

neurodegeneration researchers is especially important to help move<br />

my own research program forward.”<br />

— Dr. Michael Henderson<br />

4 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Making strides in cancer in<br />

Grand Rapids and beyond<br />

VAI scientists and collaborators tackle cancer from all angles, from studying its molecular<br />

underpinnings to supporting clinical trials designed to find new treatments.<br />

Seeking a new test to diagnose pancreatic cancer<br />

Pancreatic cancer is a difficult foe and a master <strong>of</strong> evasion. By the time it is<br />

diagnosed, it frequently is far advanced, which limits options and complicates<br />

treatment. Adding to the challenge, some pancreatic cancers don’t respond<br />

to existing medications. The result <strong>of</strong>ten is an agonizing decision: pursue<br />

treatment that may or may not work or focus on quality <strong>of</strong> life.<br />

VAI Pr<strong>of</strong>essor Dr. Brian Haab wants to change this reality. He and his<br />

colleagues are developing a simple, experimental blood test that<br />

distinguishes pancreatic cancers that respond to treatment from those<br />

that do not. This critical distinction could one day guide therapeutic<br />

decisions and spare patients with resistant cancers from undergoing<br />

unnecessary treatments with challenging side effects.<br />

“Knowing which type <strong>of</strong> pancreatic cancer a person has is critical to<br />

implementing the right treatment strategy for each patient,” Haab said.<br />

“We hope that our new test, which detects a marker produced by cancer<br />

cells <strong>of</strong> one subtype and not the other, will one day be a powerful tool to<br />

help physicians and patients make the best decisions possible.”<br />

The experimental test is slated to undergo additional clinical validation. 1<br />

Collaborating on a national initiative against cancer<br />

Biospecimens are the bedrock <strong>of</strong> scientific research — without them, we<br />

wouldn’t be able to study cancer or develop new treatments and diagnostics.<br />

Last summer, VAI’s Biorepository was awarded a $2.7 million, two-year subcontract<br />

from the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research currently operated by<br />

Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., on behalf <strong>of</strong> the National Cancer Institute to serve as<br />

the biorepository for the Cancer Moonshot Biobank study, a national initiative to transform<br />

cancer treatment and prevention through accelerated research.<br />

“We are honored to be part <strong>of</strong> the Cancer Moonshot Biobank study and look forward to doing our part<br />

to support research and improve cancer care,” said Dr. Scott Jewell, director <strong>of</strong> VAI’s Core Technologies and<br />

Services, which includes the Institute’s Biorepository.<br />

The Cancer Moonshot was launched in 2016 by the Obama Administration. Its strategic aims, determined by a Blue Ribbon Panel <strong>of</strong><br />

experts, are designed to answer critical scientific and medical questions while ensuring the samples collected represent the diversity <strong>of</strong> the<br />

U.S. population. 2<br />

1<br />

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute; the National Cancer Institute <strong>of</strong> the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health under award no. U01CA152653 (Haab and Brand) and award no. U01CA226158<br />

(Haab); the Lustgarten Foundation (Tuveson); and the German Research Foundation (Plenker). The content is solely the responsibility <strong>of</strong> the authors and does not necessarily represent the <strong>of</strong>ficial views <strong>of</strong> the granting organizations.<br />

2<br />

The project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute <strong>of</strong> the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health under contract no. HHSN261201500003I, Task Order HHSN26100042 through Leidos<br />

Biomedical Research, Inc. under subcontract no. 20X062Q. The content <strong>of</strong> this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies <strong>of</strong> the Department <strong>of</strong> Health and Human Services, nor does mention <strong>of</strong> trade names,<br />

commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 5


RESEARCH<br />

Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s<br />

Disease goes virtual in 2020<br />

In September, more than 700 people from around the world joined together for our<br />

Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease scientific symposium and Rallying to the<br />

Challenge meeting for people with Parkinson’s and care partners, co-hosted with<br />

Cure Parkinson’s. For the first time, both events were virtual, enabling record<br />

attendance while participants safely joined in from home.<br />

Together, the events focused on exploring a question that holds importance for<br />

people with Parkinson’s, scientists and VAI donors: When and where does Parkinson’s<br />

start? Speakers highlighted the latest research into the earliest stages and symptoms<br />

<strong>of</strong> the disease, discussed potential triggers, and brainstormed how understanding its<br />

origins may lead to new therapies.<br />

We also honored three incredible scientists for their contributions to the field and<br />

commitment to the Parkinson’s community.<br />

This year’s events focused<br />

on exploring a question<br />

that holds importance for<br />

people with Parkinson’s,<br />

scientists and VAI donors:<br />

When and where does<br />

Parkinson’s start?<br />

DR. DANIELA BERG<br />

DR. RON POSTUMA<br />

DR. CAROLINE TANNER<br />

VAI presented the Jay Van Andel Award for Outstanding Achievement in<br />

Parkinson’s Disease Research to Dr. Daniela Berg and Dr. Ron Postuma for their<br />

groundbreaking efforts to identify the earliest symptoms <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s disease and<br />

to translate their findings into new diagnostic criteria. Berg is the chair and director<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Department <strong>of</strong> Neurology at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, Germany.<br />

Postuma is a pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> neurology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.<br />

Cure Parkinson’s and VAI presented Dr. Caroline Tanner <strong>of</strong> University <strong>of</strong> California,<br />

San Francisco’s Weill Institute for Neurosciences with the 2020 Tom Isaacs Award,<br />

which honors individuals who have had a significant impact on the lives <strong>of</strong> people<br />

with Parkinson’s and/or involved them in a participatory way in research. Throughout<br />

her inspiring career, Tanner has sought to better understand the causes <strong>of</strong><br />

Parkinson’s and to develop better treatments for those with the disease.<br />

Read more at vai.org/2020-gcpd-recap and save the date for the next Grand Challenges<br />

in Parkinson’s Disease, which will be held Oct. 6–7, <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

Speakers highlighted the latest<br />

research into the earliest<br />

stages and symptoms <strong>of</strong> the<br />

disease, discussed potential<br />

triggers, and brainstormed<br />

how understanding its origins<br />

may lead to new therapies.<br />

6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


COURTESY LÜ LAB<br />

The images taken with VAI’s<br />

state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art cryo-EM<br />

reveal a wedding bouquet-like<br />

structure, with molecular “gates”<br />

that open and close.<br />

Understanding how<br />

brain cells maintain<br />

balance to keep<br />

us healthy<br />

Imagine standing on the moon and having eyes so powerful that you can<br />

clearly watch a tennis match on Earth. Now imagine that same optical power<br />

packed into a high-tech microscope, and you have cryo-electron microscopy, or<br />

cryo-EM — a groundbreaking technology that helps scientists study the smallest<br />

components <strong>of</strong> life in exquisite detail. Using the Institute’s state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art cryo-<br />

EM, VAI scientists Dr. Wei Lü and Dr. Juan Du, in collaboration with Dr. Zhaozhu<br />

Qiu <strong>of</strong> Johns Hopkins University, captured high-resolution images that help<br />

explain how cells sense and respond to their environment. The images depict<br />

molecular “gates” that open and close, letting chemical messages in and out while<br />

also helping maintain pH balance within brain cells — a critical function that keeps<br />

cells alive and helps prevent stroke and other brain injuries.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 7


RESEARCH<br />

Dr. Guillermo Flores combines<br />

passion for research, clinical work<br />

through dual-degree program<br />

Dr. Guillermo Flores wants the best <strong>of</strong> both worlds as a physicianscientist.<br />

His ambition is to blend research and clinical experience<br />

to further our understanding <strong>of</strong> disease and treatment. He’s<br />

tackling this admirable goal by pursuing education on both sides<br />

<strong>of</strong> the coin, as part <strong>of</strong> a dual-degree program <strong>of</strong>fered through a<br />

partnership between Van Andel Institute Graduate School and<br />

Michigan State University College <strong>of</strong> Human Medicine.<br />

“I want the clinic to inform my benchwork, and my benchwork to<br />

provide the basis for new therapies,” said Flores, whose research<br />

at VAI sought to uncover the causes <strong>of</strong> pediatric cancers. “An M.D.<br />

degree will let me treat individual patients, while a Ph.D. will help<br />

me serve larger populations.”<br />

Students in this dual-degree program conduct research in VAI labs<br />

while pursuing their Ph.D. and work hands-on with patients and<br />

mentors during their M.D. training. These programs typically span<br />

eight years, with four years <strong>of</strong> Ph.D. research training flanked on<br />

each side by two years <strong>of</strong> medical and clinical education.<br />

While in the Graduate School, students experience an innovative,<br />

problem-based learning approach that trains them to conduct<br />

high-caliber, rigorous science and to translate basic biological<br />

findings into clinical applications. They also undergo extensive<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional development in areas such as leadership, ethics,<br />

responsible and effective conduct <strong>of</strong> research, public speaking,<br />

and grant and technical writing — all skills necessary for<br />

tomorrow’s biomedical research leaders.<br />

Flores completed his Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology at VAI<br />

in 2020 and is now working to finish his M.D. at MSU College<br />

<strong>of</strong> Human Medicine. Residency training in a medical specialty<br />

will likely be the next step in his path to a career as a physicianscientist.<br />

For more information, visit vaigs.vai.org/doctoral-program/physicianscientist/.<br />

DR. GUILLERMO FLORES<br />

8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Two dual-degree programs:<br />

in partnership with MSU College <strong>of</strong> Human Medicine<br />

and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D.<br />

School <strong>of</strong> Medicine.<br />

YEAR ONE<br />

Medical training<br />

YEARS<br />

THREE<br />

TO SIX<br />

Ph.D. training<br />

at VAI<br />

YEAR EIGHT<br />

Medical training<br />

YEAR TWO<br />

Medical training<br />

YEAR<br />

SEVEN<br />

Medical training<br />

A fellowship provides financial<br />

assistance during Graduate<br />

School years, including:<br />

• A stipend for living expenses<br />

• Health, dental, vision and life insurance<br />

• A full waiver <strong>of</strong> tuition for the degree<br />

• $2,000 per year for travel to scientific conferences<br />

Grad School<br />

makes<br />

milestones in<br />

2020<br />

Preparing for growth, Graduate School moves to new space<br />

VAI Graduate School Dean Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg has big<br />

plans for the future. Among them: doubling the number <strong>of</strong><br />

graduate students within the next few years. Applications<br />

already are at record levels, and the Institute is drawing<br />

students from all around the world. This spring, the Graduate<br />

School will move to a dynamic new facility on VAI’s campus that<br />

includes dedicated classroom and study spaces, social areas,<br />

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

Virtual celebrations <strong>of</strong> new students and recent graduates<br />

In a typical year, the Graduate School celebrates its convocation<br />

and commencement ceremonies in the Institute’s Tomatis<br />

Auditorium. This year, to accommodate distancing guidelines<br />

related to the pandemic, the pomp and circumstance were<br />

instead celebrated virtually. Seven new students joined the<br />

Graduate School, while five students completed their degrees.<br />

• New students: Elshaimaa Ali (Alexandria, Egypt), Lauren<br />

Duimstra (Holland, Michigan), Ellen Griggs (Kalamazoo,<br />

Michigan), Lauren Harmon (Caldwell, Idaho), Vanessa<br />

Howland (Aptos, California), Mitch McDonald (Greenville,<br />

Michigan) and Andrea Parham (Portage, Michigan)<br />

• 2020 graduates: Dr. Lindsey Cunningham (Boulder, Colorado),<br />

Dr. Minge Du (Shandong Province, China), Dr. Guillermo Flores<br />

(Holland, Michigan), Dr. Jamie Grit (Byron Center, Michigan)<br />

and Dr. Nicole Vander Schaaf (Three Rivers, Michigan)<br />

Graduate School student earns prestigious award<br />

In September, Graduate School student Maggie Chassé earned<br />

a prestigious early-career award from the National Cancer<br />

Institute <strong>of</strong> the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health. This marks the<br />

second consecutive year that a VAI Graduate School student<br />

has received the Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition<br />

Award, also known as the F99/K00. Fewer than 24 <strong>of</strong> these<br />

awards are distributed each year. The award provides up to<br />

two years <strong>of</strong> financial support for Ph.D. candidates to complete<br />

their dissertation research, and up to four years <strong>of</strong> support for<br />

postdoctoral training.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 9


EDUCATION<br />

Virtual Afterschool<br />

Cohort brings<br />

hands-on science<br />

investigations to life<br />

Sometimes, a spark is all it takes to ignite a student’s passion for science. Through<br />

engaging experiments and thoughtful pursuit <strong>of</strong> solutions to some <strong>of</strong> society’s greatest<br />

challenges, Van Andel Institute for Education’s Afterschool Cohort program lights the way<br />

for young students in their formative years.<br />

With the help <strong>of</strong> VAI’s world-class educators and scientists, students are immersed in the<br />

scientific process with hands-on investigations that explore topics in biodiversity, human<br />

health and human innovation. They ask questions, investigate problems and discover<br />

answers using scientific tools and resources provided by the Institute.<br />

“We think the program is phenomenal.<br />

All <strong>of</strong> the activities in the last week were<br />

just so cool. We are so grateful to be a<br />

part <strong>of</strong> this program.”<br />

— Laura Golub, parent <strong>of</strong> Cohort student<br />

Upcoming<br />

Afterschool<br />

Cohorts<br />

FALL <strong>2021</strong><br />

Space Engineers<br />

(Grades 4–5)<br />

Blast <strong>of</strong>f to worlds<br />

unknown to explore<br />

space and the<br />

innovations that make<br />

space exploration<br />

possible.<br />

Biomedical Explorers<br />

(Grades 6–7)<br />

Investigate the role<br />

model organisms play<br />

in helping us better<br />

understand human health.<br />

SPRING 2022<br />

“I love that the Cohort program gives students a chance to learn high-level science<br />

concepts in a hands-on, inquiry-based format,” said VAI Chief Education Officer Terra<br />

Tarango. “But what I love even more is seeing students feel like they belong — like they are<br />

part <strong>of</strong> an important team working on meaningful issues facing our world.”<br />

The program is open to students in grades 4–7. These crucial years shape young minds<br />

and open up worlds <strong>of</strong> possibility for the future. Afterschool Cohort catalyzes a lifelong<br />

passion for science in students, helping them take those pivotal first steps toward a career<br />

in any number <strong>of</strong> scientific fields.<br />

Thanks to the generous support <strong>of</strong> a Van Andel Institute donor, Afterschool Cohort is open<br />

to students at no cost.<br />

To learn more, visit vaei.org.<br />

Ecosystem<br />

Explorers<br />

(Grades 5–6)<br />

Learn how ecosystems<br />

work and why they<br />

matter by designing<br />

your own investigations using<br />

animals and plants.<br />

Energy Innovators<br />

(Grades 6–7)<br />

Explore the<br />

environmental and<br />

economic costs and<br />

benefits <strong>of</strong> energy<br />

used to move vehicles.<br />

Students also get to<br />

design their own car.<br />

10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Van Andel Institute for<br />

Education adapts<br />

Teachers and students come first at Van Andel Institute for Education. As a global<br />

pandemic caused seismic shifts in the educational landscape, our team <strong>of</strong> expert<br />

educators recognized the heightened need for engaging materials to use in a variety <strong>of</strong><br />

environments. They quickly pivoted and tailored VAI’s Blue Apple project-based learning<br />

units for in-person, virtual and blended learning environments. Across the country,<br />

teachers used these materials to successfully propel students through overwhelming<br />

challenges. Their spirit and commitment to their students inspire us every day.<br />

Blue Apple Timely<br />

Topics connect to<br />

current events<br />

Free Virtual Blue<br />

Apple Projects<br />

• Prevent the Spread: How can we stop<br />

germs in their tracks?<br />

Students test the effectiveness <strong>of</strong><br />

disinfectants on germs and create a<br />

public service announcement to help<br />

fight back against these microbes.<br />

• VacciNation<br />

Students explore the science and<br />

history behind vaccines. Then, they’ll<br />

use what they’ve learned to share<br />

their knowledge with others and to<br />

make a positive difference!<br />

As lesson planning evolved in response to an ever-changing classroom environment,<br />

VAI launched a new program called Timely Topics. This series <strong>of</strong> 15-minute mini lessons<br />

on topics ranging from civil debate to the changing seasons boosts curiosity, creativity and<br />

critical thinking, and gets students actively involved in meaningful discussions on current<br />

events. Free teacher resources, such as Timely Topics, are made possible through the<br />

generous support <strong>of</strong> the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation.<br />

Customized Virtual<br />

Science Experiences<br />

Students excel with engaging, hands-on lessons — something made even more important<br />

and challenging by an uncertain learning environment. VAI gives teachers and parents the<br />

tools to tap into this with fun, hands-on science investigations. The Institute’s Customized<br />

Virtual Science Experiences inspire students to explore and solve problems using scientific<br />

methods, tools and resources. We know that each classroom is unique, and each teacher has<br />

their own style; we work with individual teachers and parents to bring lesson plans to life.<br />

To learn more, visit vaei.vai.org.<br />

STUDENTS AT CROSSROADS CHARTER ACADEMY<br />

& THE SHIPLEY SCHOOL PARTICIPATE IN<br />

PREVENT THE SPREAD<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 11


VAI PURPLE COMMUNITY<br />

Student Ambassador Program<br />

shapes community leaders<br />

<strong>of</strong> tomorrow<br />

At the start <strong>of</strong> the academic year, high school students from<br />

across West Michigan came together virtually to learn leadership<br />

skills and impart a lasting impact on research into diseases like<br />

cancer and Parkinson’s.<br />

These bright, young students are part <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute’s<br />

Student Ambassador Program. They meet once a month over the<br />

course <strong>of</strong> two semesters and hear directly from the Institute’s<br />

world-class scientists, educators and staff about the important<br />

research and education efforts happening at VAI. For the 2020–21<br />

school year, there were 28 Student Ambassadors from 11 schools;<br />

all meetings were hosted virtually.<br />

By meeting with VAI scientists, Student Ambassadors learn about<br />

the important biomedical research happening at the Institute and<br />

gain insight into what it takes to run a research lab. They also hear<br />

from Van Andel Institute for Education instructional specialists<br />

about the latest trends in K–12 education. The students’ ultimate<br />

goal is to apply what they’ve learned to launch a fundraiser, with<br />

(STARTING AT THE BOTTOM LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE; PHOTOS TAKEN<br />

PRIOR TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC) HOLLY BARKER, ISABELLA HARNISH,<br />

EMILY DEAN, GRACE GEER, CAROL VAN ANDEL, BRIANNA VOLPE,<br />

ABBY MILES, MARGARET BRUEMMER & KENDALL HALUCH; KENDALL<br />

HALUCH; EMILY DEAN<br />

“Our Student Ambassadors pour<br />

their hearts into learning about<br />

our Institute and how they can<br />

support our mission to improve<br />

the health <strong>of</strong> current and future<br />

generations through research<br />

and education.”<br />

— Carol Van Andel<br />

100% <strong>of</strong> the proceeds going directly to the Institute’s research and<br />

educational programs.<br />

When meeting with Institute staff, the students explore topics like<br />

how to craft a communications plan to reach the right audiences<br />

for their fundraiser and how to gain fundraising support from<br />

business sponsors. The Student Ambassadors also are mentored<br />

12 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Volunteer<br />

Opportunities<br />

Volunteers are the backbone <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute’s<br />

community support, helping to educate people about our<br />

important research and education programs. They serve<br />

as energetic partners in the fight against devastating<br />

diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s and as advocates<br />

for VAI throughout the West Michigan community.<br />

by the Institute’s biggest advocate: Carol Van Andel,<br />

executive director <strong>of</strong> The David and Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation and wife <strong>of</strong> VAI’s Chairman and CEO David Van Andel.<br />

“Our Student Ambassadors pour their hearts into learning about<br />

our Institute and how they can support our mission to improve<br />

the health <strong>of</strong> current and future generations through research<br />

and education,” Carol Van Andel said. “It is a great honor for me to<br />

mentor and work with these young leaders as they work toward<br />

their fundraising goal.”<br />

As their final fundraising project, the 2020–21 class <strong>of</strong> Student<br />

Ambassadors elected to host an online silent auction. The virtual<br />

auction, set to be held April 19–30, will be a crowning achievement<br />

for the students after months <strong>of</strong> hard work and planning. The<br />

Institute is proud to count these students among our dedicated<br />

volunteers who lend their talent to supporting research into the<br />

diseases that impact so many <strong>of</strong> our loved ones.<br />

To learn more about the Student Ambassador Program, visit<br />

purplecommunity.org.<br />

There are various ways to volunteer with the Institute,<br />

including:<br />

• Volunteer Ambassador<br />

• Event Hand<br />

• Event Lead<br />

• Weekly Volunteer Team<br />

• Group volunteering<br />

Though in-person volunteer opportunities are<br />

temporarily on hold, the Institute is incredibly excited<br />

to bring aboard new volunteers and further develop<br />

relationships in the community. To learn more about<br />

how you can get involved, visit purplecommunity.org or<br />

email purplecommunity@vai.org.<br />

Upcoming opportunities<br />

June 10 —<br />

Virtual Volunteer Appreciation Pizza Party<br />

Last Friday <strong>of</strong> every month —<br />

Volunteer Virtual C<strong>of</strong>fee Connection<br />

Stay connected with VAI and hear from researchers<br />

about their latest work!<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 13


VAI PURPLE COMMUNITY<br />

Virtual Leadership Conferences<br />

<strong>of</strong>fer on-demand science, fun<br />

for students<br />

When the pandemic forced in-person events to go virtual, Van Andel Institute’s Student<br />

Leadership Conference rose to the challenge to adapt.<br />

The free program, which invites classrooms to visit the Institute for a day <strong>of</strong> touring VAI<br />

facilities and conducting fun experiments in our educational labs, could not continue on as<br />

it had. So, the Institute pivoted quickly and introduced a new format.<br />

The Virtual Leadership Conference program is built for the Zoom era and follows a<br />

similar playbook as the Student Leadership Conference. Whereas the Student Leadership<br />

Conference had been held on set days during the school year, the Virtual Leadership<br />

Conference is completely on-demand — when teachers want to schedule a time, VAI is<br />

there to help.<br />

“The pandemic disrupted normal classroom routines across the board, and we wanted to<br />

do something to help,” said McKenzie Hollern, VAI event coordinator. “We are thrilled that<br />

the shift to this format gives teachers the option to schedule a virtual field trip at a time<br />

that works best for them.”<br />

“The pandemic disrupted<br />

normal classroom<br />

routines across the<br />

board, and we wanted to<br />

do something to help.”<br />

— McKenzie Hollern<br />

By adding the at-home experiment<br />

component, the Virtual Leadership<br />

Conference turned what would have<br />

been just another video call into a handson<br />

science lesson that keeps students<br />

curious, engaged and enjoying themselves.<br />

The conference is a great way for students to learn more about the Institute, hear<br />

directly from VAI scientists about their research and — perhaps best <strong>of</strong> all — enjoy<br />

entertaining science experiments from the comfort <strong>of</strong> home. With support from a variety<br />

<strong>of</strong> sources, including donors, VAI provides plans for teachers to help students conduct<br />

the experiments, and instructional specialists from Van Andel Institute for Education walk<br />

participants through the steps during the conferences.<br />

To learn more about the Virtual Leadership<br />

Conferences and to register, visit<br />

purplecommunity.org.<br />

STUDENTS AT ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE PARTICIPATE IN VAI’S VIRTUAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE<br />

14 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Pure Barre on the<br />

Blue Bridge goes virtual<br />

The 7th annual Pure Barre on the Blue<br />

Bridge was unable to fully take place on<br />

its namesake downtown Grand Rapids<br />

landmark due to the pandemic, but that<br />

didn’t stop dedicated and determined<br />

Van Andel Institute supporters from<br />

meeting up to sweat it out online.<br />

Participants took to Zoom for an evening<br />

<strong>of</strong> exercise to support the Institute’s<br />

research into diseases like cancer and<br />

Parkinson’s, and our K–12 and graduate<br />

education programs. The event was led<br />

by Pure Barre Grand Rapids’ Kiersten<br />

Kemp, who was on the Blue Bridge to give<br />

participants a chance to take in the views<br />

from the comfort <strong>of</strong> home.<br />

Pure Barre on the Blue Bridge was sponsored<br />

in 2020 by Pure Barre Grand Rapids,<br />

Lolë, Trusted Rides and Mary Free Bed<br />

Rehabilitation Hospital.<br />

Bee Brave beats pandemic<br />

odds to support VAI<br />

Organizers <strong>of</strong> the annual Bee Brave<br />

5K overcame obstacles created by<br />

the pandemic to host a fun, safe<br />

event in October. The race, held every<br />

fall at Shagbark Farm in Caledonia,<br />

Michigan, directly benefits Van Andel<br />

Institute’s breast cancer research.<br />

The race raised more than $56,000<br />

for 2020, and this year’s event will be<br />

held Saturday, Oct. 9, <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

PURE BARRE ON THE BLUE BRIDGE FILMING AHEAD OF TIME IN ORDER TO<br />

SAFELY BRING THE EXPERIENCE RIGHT INTO ATTENDEES’ HOMES<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 15


CONGRATULATIONS<br />

to David & Carol<br />

Van Andel<br />

for their inclusion among the 2020<br />

Grand Rapids Business Journal<br />

Grand Rapids 200 honorees.<br />

EVENTS<br />

Though numerous events<br />

at Van Andel Institute<br />

took on a different,<br />

virtual look in much <strong>of</strong><br />

2020, their impact did<br />

not waver. All proceeds<br />

from VAI events<br />

benefit biomedical<br />

research and K–12 and<br />

graduate education at<br />

the Institute, and help<br />

support our mission <strong>of</strong><br />

unleashing innovations<br />

that will improve health<br />

and enhance lives for<br />

generations to come.<br />

Read on for more<br />

about the exceptional,<br />

enlightening and even<br />

dazzling events that<br />

brought together our<br />

community <strong>of</strong> supporters<br />

in Grand Rapids, West<br />

Michigan and beyond in<br />

support and celebration<br />

<strong>of</strong> our beloved Institute.<br />

CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL<br />

16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Curiosity Hour<br />

The fun-loving spirit and science skills <strong>of</strong> the Van Andel<br />

Institute for Education team were brought into homes across<br />

West Michigan and beyond during August’s Curiosity Hour.<br />

Held virtually for the first time, the 2020 event featured creative<br />

science demonstrations that attendees could easily follow along<br />

with from the comfort <strong>of</strong> home — including microwave lightning,<br />

paper bridges, elephant toothpaste and dancing oobleck. The fun<br />

culminated with an edible science experiment featuring a makeyour-own<br />

pizza — ingredients courtesy <strong>of</strong> Grand Rapids’ own<br />

Amore Trattoria Italiana.<br />

uriosity<br />

A COMMUNITY OPEN HOUSE AT<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE FOR EDUCATION<br />

Special thanks to the Title Sponsor: Crystal Flash.<br />

(STARTING FROM THE TOP, GOING DOWN) INGREDIENTS FOR A FUN, EDIBLE<br />

EXPERIMENT — PIZZA!; THE HAZLEWOOD KIDS PREP THEIR PIZZAS FOR THE OVEN<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 17


EVENTS<br />

VAI Golf Outing<br />

Golfers, donors and Van Andel Institute supporters <strong>of</strong> all skill<br />

levels joined together at the beautiful Wuskowhan Players<br />

Club in West Olive, Michigan, for the 13th annual Van Andel<br />

Institute Golf Outing. During the event that has become a<br />

yearly favorite, players enjoyed 18 holes along with light snacks,<br />

beverages and a boxed lunch provided on the course. They<br />

also heard from special guest American football <strong>of</strong>fensive tackle<br />

Jared Veldheer.<br />

Special thanks to the Title Sponsor: The Veldheer, Long, Mackay &<br />

Bernecker Group <strong>of</strong> Merrill Lynch.<br />

(STARTING FROM THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) LYNNE JARMAN-JOHNSON; CAROL VAN ANDEL, SUSAN SHAW, BETH VAN PORTFLIET &<br />

MARCIE ROTH; JARED VELDHEER, KYLE VAN ANDEL, DAVID VAN ANDEL & JACK DOLES; GOLFERS WARM UP THEIR SHOTS;<br />

BEN & MOLLY HUNTING WITH TERESA & MARK HUNTING<br />

18 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Virtual Public<br />

Lecture Series<br />

Van Andel Institute held<br />

four virtual public lectures<br />

in the latter half <strong>of</strong> 2020,<br />

sharing the knowledge <strong>of</strong> our<br />

scientists and educators with<br />

the community. Presenters<br />

included Dr. José Brás and<br />

Dr. Rita Guerreiro, speaking on<br />

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and<br />

dementia with Lewy bodies;<br />

Dr. Patrik Brundin and<br />

Dr. Darren Moore, speaking on<br />

Parkinson’s; Dr. Heidi Lempradl<br />

and Dr. Andrew Pospisilik,<br />

speaking on metabolism and<br />

its effect on future generations;<br />

and Chief Education Officer<br />

Terra Tarango and a panel<br />

<strong>of</strong> educators, speaking on<br />

educating through a pandemic.<br />

For information on the <strong>2021</strong><br />

Public Lecture Series, visit<br />

vai.org/events.<br />

(STARTING AT TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) DR. JOSÉ BRAS; DR. RITA GUERREIRO; DR. DARREN MOORE; TERRA TARANGO;<br />

DR. ANDREW POSPISILIK; DR. HEIDI LEMPRADL; DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 19


EVENTS<br />

Couture for a Cure<br />

Fashion lovers from near and far turned out in style for the social<br />

(distance) event <strong>of</strong> the year: the Institute’s 15th annual Couture<br />

for a Cure. The virtual event featured a one-<strong>of</strong>-a-kind runway<br />

fashion presentation by Leigh’s, live-streamed entertainment and a<br />

toast to Couture’s 15th anniversary, as well as a special appearance<br />

by famed designer Byron Lars and an exclusive look at his Fall 2020<br />

Beauty Mark collection. Attendees also experienced Artistry’s new<br />

products and on-trend looks via the runway.<br />

Special thanks to the Presenting Sponsor: Leigh’s, and the<br />

Title Sponsor: Amway.<br />

20 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


(STARTING AT TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) BYRON LARS’ LOOKS FEATURE<br />

CONTOURED SILHOUETTES, INTRICATE SEAMING, EMBROIDERY & COUTURE<br />

DETAILING; A MODEL SHOWS OFF AN URBAN ADVENTURE LOOK FROM<br />

LEIGH’S; GUESTS SAW A VARIETY OF LOOKS FROM LEIGH’S, INCLUDING<br />

ECLECTIC MIX PAIRINGS FEATURING VIVID PRINTS; BYRON LARS JOINS<br />

MARANDA, LEIGH’S OWNER REBECCA WIERDA, CAROL VAN ANDEL &<br />

AMWAY’S CANDACE MATTHEWS VIA ZOOM; A BEHIND-THE-SCENES<br />

LOOK AT FILMING THIS VIRTUAL FASHION EVENT; ATTENDEES VIRTUALLY<br />

ENJOYED EXCLUSIVE LOOKS AT BYRON LARS’ LATEST COLLECTION;<br />

MARANDA, REBECCA WIERDA, CAROL VAN ANDEL & CANDACE MATTHEWS<br />

CELEBRATE COUTURE’S 15TH ANNIVERSARY; PAIRING PRINTS,<br />

LIKE FLORAL & FAUX SNAKESKIN, WAS A TOP TREND OF THE EVENING<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 21


EVENTS<br />

<strong>Hope</strong> on the Hill Gala —<br />

Star Light, Star Bright<br />

The 20th anniversary <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute’s <strong>Hope</strong> on the Hill<br />

Gala — Star Light, Star Bright brought shimmering lights and<br />

dazzling sights right into the homes <strong>of</strong> attendees. This sparkling<br />

virtual event celebrated the stars who, for the past two decades,<br />

have helped make incredible things happen at VAI: our donors,<br />

our community, and the scientists and educators you support. It<br />

included not one, not two, but three virtual performances by the<br />

Detroit Youth Choir, whose powerful appearance on “America’s Got<br />

Talent” propelled its young stars into a well-deserved spotlight.<br />

Special thanks to the Title Sponsor: Fifth Third Private Bank.<br />

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) ROB & SUSAN STAFFORD HOST A VIRTUAL VIEWING PARTY AT HOME;<br />

CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL PREPARE TO TOAST TO THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY; PABLO & JENNA PRIETO (FRONT), CHRIS &<br />

ALYSSA NANCE, CHARLIE & TANYA ROWERDINK; THE DETROIT YOUTH CHOIR<br />

22 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


A Conversation About Depression<br />

— Hosted by Carol Van Andel<br />

Van Andel Institute’s signature events have the power to bring<br />

the insights and research <strong>of</strong> our scientists to our community<br />

and our supporters. Through one <strong>of</strong> this year’s special events,<br />

A Conversation About Depression — Hosted by Carol Van Andel,<br />

this knowledge could travel even further, thanks to the unique<br />

virtual setting. Experts discussed the biological underpinnings <strong>of</strong><br />

depression, considered how a better understanding <strong>of</strong> the disorder<br />

can be translated into improved diagnostics and treatments,<br />

explored COVID-19’s relationship to inflammation and depression,<br />

and addressed community resources available to those affected.<br />

Speakers included Dr. Lena Brundin (VAI), Dr. Eric Achtyes (Pine<br />

Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Michigan State University<br />

College <strong>of</strong> Human Medicine and Network180), and Dr. Mark<br />

Eastburg (Pine Rest).<br />

Special thanks to the Conversation Sponsor: Howard Miller, and to<br />

the Title Sponsor: The Veldheer, Long, Mackay & Bernecker Group<br />

<strong>of</strong> Merrill Lynch.<br />

(STARTING AT THE TOP, GOING DOWN) MARANDA & CAROL VAN ANDEL; SCIENTISTS DR. ERIC ACHTYES (PINE REST), DR. LENA BRUNDIN (VAI) &<br />

DR. MARK EASTBURG (PINE REST) JOIN MARANDA & CAROL VAN ANDEL VIA ZOOM<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 23


EVENTS<br />

Thank you to our generous<br />

event sponsors<br />

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

VAI Golf Outing<br />

Charles Anderson<br />

Bluewater Technologies<br />

Consumers Credit Union<br />

Cornerstone University<br />

Custer Inc.<br />

Erhardt Construction<br />

First National Bank<br />

Gallagher Insurance<br />

Grand Rapids Christian Schools<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

iHeartMedia<br />

Loomis, Sayles & Company<br />

Macatawa Bank<br />

Making the Turn Against Parkinson’s<br />

McAlvey Merchant & Associates<br />

Merrill Lynch — The Veldheer, Long, Mackay<br />

& Bernecker Group<br />

Metro Health — University <strong>of</strong><br />

Michigan Health<br />

Midwest Capital Advisors<br />

Northern Jet Management<br />

Owen-Ames-Kimball<br />

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services<br />

Priority Health<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Secrest Wardle<br />

Sharpe<br />

Tom & Mary Stuit<br />

Summit Point Ro<strong>of</strong>ing<br />

U.S. Bank<br />

US Signal<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet<br />

West Michigan Woman<br />

Zip Xpress, Inc.<br />

Couture for a Cure<br />

Amway<br />

Belwith Keeler<br />

Scott & Heidi Campbell<br />

Cheeky Strut<br />

Chuck & Christine Boelkins<br />

Consumers Credit Union<br />

Mimi Cummings<br />

Sam & Janene Cummings<br />

CWD Real Estate Investment<br />

David & Carol Van Andel Family Foundation<br />

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh<br />

Eileen DeVries Family Foundation<br />

Eurest<br />

First National Bank <strong>of</strong> Michigan<br />

Gallagher Insurance<br />

Patti Griswold<br />

Jana Hall<br />

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate<br />

Dave & Donna Hockstra<br />

J.C. & Tammy Huizenga<br />

Bill & Starr Humphries<br />

Mike & Sue Jandernoa<br />

Jeffery Roberts Design<br />

McAlvey Merchant & Associates<br />

Deb Meijer<br />

Priority Health<br />

The Steve & Amy Van Andel Foundation<br />

Tom & Brenda Rinks<br />

24 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Sharon Van Dellen<br />

Mike & Gayle VanGessel<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Zip Xpress, Inc.<br />

<strong>Hope</strong> on the Hill Gala<br />

Amway<br />

Aon<br />

Paul Becker & Eve Rogus<br />

Betz Industries<br />

BHS Insurance<br />

Dave & Jill Bielema<br />

Chuck & Christine Boelkins<br />

Blue Cross Blue Shield<br />

Buist Electric<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Consumers Credit Union<br />

Tom & Tracy Curran<br />

Custer Inc.<br />

Davenport University<br />

The David & Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation<br />

Jeff & Mary Dixon<br />

Eenhoorn LLC<br />

Ellis Parking<br />

Fifth Third Private Bank<br />

Foremost Insurance Group<br />

Gallagher Insurance<br />

Grand Valley State University<br />

Martin & Peggy Greydanus<br />

Jana Hall<br />

Hansen — Balk Steel Treating Co.<br />

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger<br />

Healthbridge<br />

<strong>Hope</strong> College<br />

Howard Miller<br />

Huizenga Group<br />

ICN Foundation<br />

Mike & Sue Jandernoa<br />

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones<br />

Craig & Deb Kinney<br />

Kloostra Family Foundation<br />

Al & Robin Koop<br />

Blake & Mary Krueger<br />

John & Katie Kuiper<br />

Ray & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Lighthouse Insurance Group<br />

Gary & Vicky Ludema<br />

McAlvey Merchant & Associates<br />

Mercy Health<br />

Merrill Lynch — The Veldheer, Long,<br />

Mackay & Bernecker Group<br />

Metro Health — University <strong>of</strong><br />

Michigan Health<br />

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

New Holland Brewing Co.<br />

NPF Investment Advisors<br />

Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation<br />

Pioneer Construction<br />

Priority Health<br />

Rockford Construction Company<br />

Rowerdink Inc.<br />

Tony & Dawn Semple<br />

Sharpe<br />

Spectrum Health<br />

Rob & Susan Stafford<br />

Steelcase<br />

Stephen Klotz Family Foundation<br />

The Steve & Amy Van Andel Foundation<br />

Taconic Charitable Foundation<br />

Thomas S. Fox Family<br />

Mike & Michelle VanDyke<br />

Dan & Ann Van Eerden<br />

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Wolverine Worldwide<br />

Jim & Jane Zwiers<br />

A Conversation About Depression<br />

Hosted by Carol Van Andel<br />

AHC Hospitality<br />

Gallagher Insurance<br />

Howard Miller<br />

McAlvey Merchant & Associates<br />

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 25


PHILANTHROPY<br />

Donors Michelle and Kevin<br />

Bassett support biomedical<br />

research today, bring hope<br />

for tomorrow<br />

Every donor brings a unique hope, passion<br />

and motivation to supporting Van Andel<br />

Institute’s work. In the case <strong>of</strong> Michelle<br />

and Kevin Bassett, they began on different<br />

paths, but their end goal has always been<br />

the same: to support an organization that<br />

works tirelessly to give hope and a lasting<br />

impact to future generations.<br />

For Michelle Bassett, director <strong>of</strong> research<br />

administration at Mary Free Bed<br />

Rehabilitation Hospital, it began when she,<br />

her two children, and her first husband,<br />

Dwight Reed, moved to Grand Rapids in<br />

1999. She was part <strong>of</strong> a group recruited<br />

from the National Cancer Institute to help<br />

VAI get its early start, and she worked<br />

directly for the Institute’s founding research<br />

director, Dr. George Vande Woude.<br />

“I moved up here because I believed in<br />

Jay Van Andel’s vision, in George Vande<br />

Woude’s work,” said Michelle, who<br />

worked at the Institute until 2012. “VAI<br />

has been such a gift to Grand Rapids<br />

and has stimulated so much growth and<br />

collaboration.”<br />

Just one year after their move to West<br />

Michigan, Dwight was diagnosed with s<strong>of</strong>ttissue<br />

sarcoma and passed away only 20<br />

months later.<br />

“Cancer research was my chosen<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>ession, and it became far more real<br />

and relevant for me both during Dwight’s<br />

illness and after he died,” said Michelle.<br />

In Dwight’s memory, his sister and her<br />

husband, Dawn and Darryl Schumaker,<br />

launched a memorial golf outing. Held<br />

annually for a decade, the event raised<br />

more than $80,000 for VAI’s cancer<br />

research efforts.<br />

Meanwhile, Kevin Bassett, president <strong>of</strong><br />

family-owned company Spectrum Industries,<br />

began giving to VAI after his brother, Keith,<br />

was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma<br />

and passed away in December 2013.<br />

“Cancer research already had been near<br />

and dear to us, and then when Keith lost his<br />

battle with renal cell, it became even more<br />

real,” said Kevin.<br />

Kevin and Michelle, who married in 2006,<br />

recognized their shared passion for cancer<br />

research and soon decided to include VAI in<br />

their will.<br />

Their close experiences with disease<br />

unfortunately did not end with Keith and<br />

Dwight. In August 2017, Michelle was<br />

diagnosed with AL cardiac amyloidosis,<br />

which affects the heart’s ability to pump<br />

blood and is related to a cancer called<br />

multiple myeloma. Following seven months<br />

<strong>of</strong> chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant<br />

in 2018, Michelle is in remission.<br />

“Receiving those treatments would not<br />

have happened without research. It saved<br />

my life,” she said. “The work done at VAI in<br />

the last 25 years didn’t necessarily impact<br />

my specific outcome, but it contributes to<br />

a chain <strong>of</strong> knowledge that opens up new<br />

possibilities.”<br />

MICHELLE & KEVIN BASSETT (CENTER) WITH THEIR<br />

CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN<br />

26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


MICHELLE & KEVIN BASSETT<br />

“What inspires in<br />

us an overwhelming<br />

desire to give is the<br />

examples <strong>of</strong> others<br />

around Grand Rapids<br />

who also give. Other<br />

people with deeper<br />

pockets give freely<br />

<strong>of</strong> their money,<br />

and while we know<br />

that our pockets<br />

aren’t as deep,<br />

our contributions<br />

absolutely help along<br />

the way.”<br />

— Kevin Bassett<br />

To learn more about supporting VAI through<br />

a planned gift, visit vai.org/plannedgiving or<br />

contact Philanthropy Director Steve Ozinga<br />

at Steve.Ozinga@vai.org or 616.234.5040,<br />

or Philanthropy Director Kate Frillmann at<br />

Kate.Frillmann@vai.org or 616.234.5515.<br />

Research can advance toward a<br />

deeper understanding in the hopes <strong>of</strong><br />

one day supporting the development<br />

<strong>of</strong> new treatments and clinical trials.<br />

Donations help turn an idea into<br />

action, and action into change.<br />

A VAI scientist has an idea and<br />

takes it into the lab for testing,<br />

adjustment and data collection,<br />

with support from donations and<br />

other funding.<br />

The dataset grows to a point<br />

where large-scale funding<br />

can be pursued.<br />

Join VAI as a donor.<br />

JAY AND BETTY VAN ANDEL<br />

CIRCLE OF HOPE<br />

The Jay and Betty Van Andel Circle <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Hope</strong> recognizes individuals and couples,<br />

like Michelle and Kevin Bassett, who<br />

have notified us that they have included<br />

Van Andel Institute in their will or other<br />

estate plans.<br />

Donations, no matter the amount, can catapult an idea<br />

from initial stages in the lab into bigger research efforts.<br />

These ideas may one day lead to a deeper understanding <strong>of</strong><br />

health and disease and help to support the development <strong>of</strong><br />

new treatments and clinical trials.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 27


PHILANTHROPY<br />

Scored Grant Program helps turn<br />

inspiration into action<br />

A spark <strong>of</strong> inspiration can strike at any moment. Picture a scientist<br />

working hard at the bench, focusing intensely on an exciting new<br />

idea. She buckles down to investigate her newfound idea, and the<br />

data and evidence accumulate. Ready to take her research to the<br />

next level, she applies for a grant, but falls just below the threshold<br />

to receive funding.<br />

Now what?<br />

Grants from federal agencies such as the National Institutes <strong>of</strong><br />

Health are the main source <strong>of</strong> funding for scientific research in<br />

the U.S. Funding is limited each year, and the process for earning<br />

federal grants is highly rigorous and competitive.<br />

To earn a federal grant, scientists must show that they have<br />

enough data to support the idea they want to investigate. But<br />

conducting the research necessary to generate this foundational<br />

data can be hampered by a lack <strong>of</strong> funding — quite a catch-22.<br />

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

comes in. It provides research funding to scientists whose federal<br />

grant applications scored very highly but just below the funding<br />

threshold. This approach gives scientists with promising projects<br />

the extra boost needed to conduct the additional research<br />

necessary to put forth a revised, successful application in the<br />

next round <strong>of</strong> grants. Philanthropic support <strong>of</strong> this program is an<br />

important springboard for future research.<br />

Projects supported in<br />

2020 by VAI’s Scored<br />

Grant Award Program<br />

• Dr. Peter Laird: Developing a better cellular clock<br />

• Dr. Matt Steensma: Connecting the genetic dots between a<br />

rare disease and breast cancer<br />

• Dr. Xiaobing Shi: Finding a new target for a tough-to-treat<br />

type <strong>of</strong> lung cancer<br />

• Dr. Hong Wen: Developing new treatments for pediatric<br />

blood cancer<br />

Dr. Laird was awarded a five-year, $3 million award from the<br />

National Institute on Aging to support his research — a 30-fold<br />

return on investment from the $100,000 that he received from<br />

the Scored Grant Award Program. 1 Dr. Wen was awarded a<br />

four-year, $818,173 award from the National Cancer Institute to<br />

support her research. 2 Drs. Steensma and Shi also are seeking<br />

federal funding.<br />

1<br />

This work is supported by Van Andel Institute and the National Institute on Aging <strong>of</strong><br />

the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health under award no. R01AG066764 (Laird). The content is<br />

solely the responsibility <strong>of</strong> the authors and does not necessarily represent the <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

views <strong>of</strong> the granting organization.<br />

2<br />

This work is supported by Van Andel Institute and the National Cancer Institute <strong>of</strong><br />

In 2020, West Michigan engineering firm<br />

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

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

Thomas Newh<strong>of</strong>, they established the Thomas &<br />

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

to support VAI’s Scored Grant Award Program.<br />

The fund also honors Tom’s wife Garretta for<br />

her unwavering commitment to the company’s<br />

success.<br />

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

support the fund, and Tom and Garretta showed<br />

their appreciation with their own generous gift.<br />

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

matching dollars from VAI funded the Institute’s<br />

Scored Grant Award Program in 2020.<br />

the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health under award no. R01CA255506 (Wen). The content is<br />

solely the responsibility <strong>of</strong> the authors and does not necessarily represent the <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

views <strong>of</strong> the granting organization.<br />

28 | 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> your family and friend s — with hope for a<br />

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

Allan Arnoys<br />

Rob & Dawn Arnoys<br />

Jean Atkinson<br />

David & Patti Atkinson<br />

David Baines<br />

Roger & Kelley Stranger<br />

James Barcelona<br />

Alex Barcelona<br />

Donna Bellgardt<br />

Steve & Linda Drews<br />

Reflection Lake Condo<br />

Association<br />

Gary Bleyer<br />

Marlan & Alida Arnoys<br />

James Bouwhuis<br />

Steve & Tricia Dickens<br />

Robert Bradford<br />

Marvin & Ruth Bradford<br />

Peter Bylsma<br />

Carol Bylsma<br />

Daniel Chappell<br />

Thomas & Susan Swaney<br />

Wyatt Collins<br />

James & Janet Collins<br />

Wendell Cooper<br />

Peter & Ginger Herman<br />

Barbara Ditch<br />

Apothecary Gift Shop Staff<br />

Raymond & Helen DeVries<br />

Steven & Rita Falk<br />

Wayne & Linda Pynnonen<br />

Cindy Thomason<br />

Karen Tucker<br />

Kathleen Drennan<br />

Patrick & Kristine Brady<br />

Brock & Katie Plumb<br />

Robert DuHadway<br />

Bill & Linda Peterson<br />

Thomas Dyke<br />

Frieda Jaynes<br />

Lorrie Jaynes<br />

Debbie Jaynes‐Dyke<br />

Melissa Eden<br />

Keith & Carolyn Murphy<br />

Juris Fred Erhards<br />

Barbara Erhards<br />

Elizabeth Foster<br />

Doug & Sue Atkinson<br />

Fred Deneke & Jim Eastman<br />

Gloria Fauble<br />

Ann Heffron<br />

Marilyn Hiemstra<br />

Brian & Casey Keck<br />

Julie Lang<br />

Jill McDonough<br />

Stanley & Ellen Pasieka<br />

Paul & Kathy Riewald<br />

Richard Tallin<br />

Jayne VerLee<br />

George Goudie<br />

Paul & Jean Becker<br />

Kenneth & Carolyn Bowlin<br />

Bruce & Donna Hood<br />

H. Allan & Karen Mell<br />

Patrick & Christine Nolan<br />

Robert & Carolyn Pell<br />

Russell & Lori Schuitema<br />

Gary & Mary Silvis<br />

Barbara Vukits<br />

Robert Granstra<br />

Carol Bauer<br />

Kathleen Grogan<br />

Donald Goeckel & Dianne<br />

Weidner<br />

Timothy Haak<br />

Mary Haak<br />

Carol Ann Haarman<br />

Steve Haarman<br />

Heather Iannacone<br />

Joseph & Margaret Biersack<br />

Robert Jares<br />

Joanne Fowler<br />

Mike & Lindsey John<br />

James & Kimberle Johnson<br />

Paula Joyner‐Clinard<br />

Marnie Fondren<br />

Gisela Kah<br />

Win & Kyle Irwin<br />

Mark Kastner<br />

Arlin & Emma Disselkoen<br />

Brenda Kastner<br />

Nathanael Kastner<br />

Diane Kent<br />

Barbara McAnelly<br />

Viviane Labrie Walters<br />

Jean‐Pierre & Louise<br />

Boileau Labrie<br />

Bryan Las & Kyla Redden<br />

Noelle Voluntad<br />

Nelson McBride<br />

Mary McBride<br />

Thomas New<br />

Lawrence Waite & Lucy<br />

Hough‐Waite<br />

Jane Nichols<br />

Jack Nichols<br />

Denise Picardat<br />

Brian Picardat<br />

Richard Pullen<br />

Ruth Kemp<br />

Marjorie Raab<br />

Gene Raab<br />

Neda Raterink<br />

Gary Raterink<br />

Harvey Ringerwole<br />

Robert & Margaret<br />

Andrews<br />

Jerry & Karen Dejonge<br />

Audrey Kortman<br />

Lou Rena Reese<br />

Joyce Ringerwole<br />

Roger & Marilyn Van Til<br />

Peter & Judy VanderArk<br />

Kel & Pat Vanderkolk<br />

David L. Rossi<br />

Anne Rossi<br />

James Schmalz<br />

Leslie Schmalz<br />

Peter Secchia<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Family Foundation<br />

John Shiffer<br />

John Vaughan<br />

Keith Smith<br />

Carol Smith<br />

Charles Stehouwer<br />

Marianne Stehouwer<br />

Billy Swaney<br />

Thomas & Susan Swaney<br />

Luis Tomatis<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Family Foundation<br />

Gordon Van Wylen<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Family Foundation<br />

Robert VanDeKerkhove<br />

Clifford & Mary Jo Tholen<br />

Bill VanRegenmorter<br />

Bill & Rosemary Stevenson<br />

Daryl Vetter<br />

Alvin & Barbara Masselink<br />

Katherine Visota<br />

Leo & Helen Boruta<br />

Joe & Chris Czarnopys<br />

Joseph & Amy Sevic<br />

Craig & Kathy Stone<br />

Barbara Visota<br />

Eric Westra<br />

Hilary Hoekwater<br />

Rodney & Carla Muller<br />

Raymond Winkel<br />

Benjamin & Rachel Gurk<br />

Carol Winton<br />

Michael & Joni Corbett<br />

Walt & Margaret Kauppila<br />

Raymond & Barbara Nelson<br />

Gene Yost<br />

Carole Yost<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 29


PHILANTHROPY<br />

TRIBUTES<br />

Gerald Bovenkamp<br />

Michael Garland<br />

George A. Sharpe<br />

Todd Stevens<br />

Kimberly Van Stee<br />

Chris & Julie Bovenkamp<br />

Cynthia Thayer<br />

Fredrick & Elizabeth<br />

Kathleen Teunis<br />

Alvin & Joyce Docter<br />

Edgerton<br />

Phantom Hockey Families<br />

Thomas & Garretta<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Christa Grieve<br />

Newh<strong>of</strong><br />

Matthew R. Steensma<br />

Duke Suwyn<br />

Kevin & Julie Kieft<br />

Arlin & Emma Disselkoen<br />

Greg & Barbara Marczak<br />

These lists represent gifts made between July 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. The accuracy <strong>of</strong> these lists is very important to us.<br />

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

In Memoriam<br />

PHOTO CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN’S FORD SCHOOL<br />

Peter Secchia, an ardent supporter <strong>of</strong><br />

Van Andel Institute and a member <strong>of</strong> its<br />

Board <strong>of</strong> Governors, passed away Oct.<br />

21, 2020, at the age <strong>of</strong> 83. He <strong>of</strong>ten was<br />

described as “larger than life” and leaves<br />

a substantial hole in the collective spirit <strong>of</strong><br />

West Michigan and in the hearts <strong>of</strong> family<br />

and friends worldwide. Along with his wife,<br />

Joan, Secchia was a long-time supporter <strong>of</strong><br />

VAI from the early years. “What a time this<br />

is for Grand Rapids … new and improved<br />

medical facilities, a new medical school, a<br />

focus on life sciences … and right at the<br />

heart <strong>of</strong> all <strong>of</strong> this is Van Andel Institute,”<br />

said the pair in VAI’s 2007 Annual Report.<br />

“The city is experiencing a complete<br />

transformation.” Secchia was the recipient<br />

<strong>of</strong> many notable awards throughout his<br />

life, including the Carol Van Andel Angel <strong>of</strong><br />

Excellence Award, which he and Joan each<br />

received in 2017. The award celebrates<br />

individuals who have demonstrated<br />

significant contributions to VAI through<br />

volunteer service and philanthropy.<br />

Elsewhere on the Medical Mile, when<br />

Michigan State University was seeking to<br />

expand its medical school, Secchia worked<br />

to ensure its new campus was located in<br />

Grand Rapids. Today, MSU’s College <strong>of</strong><br />

Human Medicine is housed in the Secchia<br />

Center on the city’s Medical Mile.<br />

30 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE


Dr. Luis Tomatis, a driving force in bringing<br />

Van Andel Institute to life, passed away<br />

Sept. 29, 2020. Originally from Argentina,<br />

Tomatis was an energetic advocate for<br />

Grand Rapids, Mich. He was influential in<br />

creating and maintaining the environment<br />

that enabled the Institute to thrive and<br />

the Medical Mile to sprout up around us.<br />

Tomatis helped recruit top-tier scientific<br />

talent to establish VAI’s first Board <strong>of</strong><br />

Scientific Advisors and appoint Nobel<br />

Laureate Dr. Michael Brown as the board’s<br />

first chairman. After serving as VAI’s<br />

founding president from 1995 to 2001, he<br />

went on to become the director <strong>of</strong> medical<br />

affairs for the Richard M. DeVos family.<br />

A cardiothoracic surgeon, Tomatis was a<br />

former chief <strong>of</strong> cardiovascular surgery at<br />

Spectrum Health and MSU pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong><br />

cardiac surgery. He won numerous awards,<br />

volunteered for organizations like the<br />

American Heart Association and the Grand<br />

Rapids Symphony, and was responsible for<br />

arranging for invaluable medical equipment<br />

to be sent to his homeland <strong>of</strong> Argentina.<br />

Dr. Gordon Van Wylen passed away Nov.<br />

5, 2020, at the age <strong>of</strong> 100. As one <strong>of</strong><br />

VAI’s original trustees, Van Wylen was<br />

instrumental in establishing the early<br />

programs <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute for<br />

Education and created the groundwork<br />

for the success <strong>of</strong> VAI. We continue to see<br />

his vision in action through the programs<br />

we are developing and implementing<br />

today, some 25 years later. A man <strong>of</strong><br />

immense scientific knowledge, education,<br />

experience and integrity, Van Wylen was an<br />

accomplished educator and administrator.<br />

He served as dean <strong>of</strong> engineering at<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Michigan, as <strong>Hope</strong> College<br />

president for 15 years, and as founding<br />

trustee and inaugural director <strong>of</strong> Van Andel<br />

Institute for Education. Van Wylen<br />

generously devoted his time and talent to<br />

numerous other organizations throughout<br />

his life. He was widely regarded as a<br />

thoughtful, visionary, kind and respectful<br />

leader.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 31


Leave a<br />

legacy <strong>of</strong><br />

support<br />

What is it?<br />

A charitable gift annuity provides donors with a fixed lifetime<br />

income at an attractive rate, tax benefits, and the peace <strong>of</strong><br />

mind <strong>of</strong> providing long-term support to Van Andel Institute’s<br />

breakthrough cancer and Parkinson’s research and innovative<br />

educational programs.<br />

through a<br />

charitable<br />

gift<br />

annuity<br />

Requirements<br />

Minimum age<br />

Minimum amount<br />

Assets accepted<br />

Payments to you<br />

Rates<br />

70 years<br />

(55 years for deferred gift<br />

annuity)<br />

$25,000<br />

Cash or appreciated<br />

securities (such as stocks<br />

and/or bonds)<br />

Annually,<br />

quarterly<br />

or monthly<br />

VAI uses annuity rates as recommended by the American Council<br />

on Gift Annuities, effective July 1, 2020. Rates are subject to<br />

change. Please contact us regarding your age and situation.<br />

Age (years)<br />

70 75 80 85 90+<br />

Rate (%)<br />

4.7 5.4 6.5 7.6 8.6<br />

For more information about charitable gift<br />

annuities and estate planning, 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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