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2020 Annual Report

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2020

ANNUAL REPORT


Through cutting-edge biomedical

research, inspired scientific education and

relentless commitment,

Van Andel Institute is unleashing

innovations that will improve health and

enhance lives for generations to come.


Table of Contents

Note: Some photos in this edition of the Annual

Report were taken prior to distancing guidelines

related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2 A letter from David Van Andel

4 Research

6 Erin Dean: Turning uncertainty into action

and hope

7 Scientists taking on cancer

8 Brent Brinks: A commitment to sparking

life-changing innovation

9 Making promising progress in Parkinson’s

10 Research highlights

11 Hubs for translating impact from lab to clinic

12 VAI principal investigators

20 Van Andel Institute Graduate School, in the

words of its students

22 Graduate School highlights

24 Education

26 From cohort to college: Analis Floyd

27 VAI helps bring the classroom to everyone

28 Education highlights

30 Events and Philanthropy

32 Event photos

39 Signature special event sponsors

40 Consumers Credit Union: A community

partnership of action and hope

42 Jim and Jane Zwiers: Embodying the spirit

of philanthropy

43 Uniting young, ambitious professionals

in support of VAI’s mission

44 Southside Hockey Fights Cancer brings hope

to a difficult year

45 Philanthropy highlights

46 Circle of Hope and By the numbers

47 Institute leadership team

48 Board members

50 Board of Governors

51 JBoard Ambassadors

52 In Memoriam

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 1


A letter from David Van Andel

As we approach the celebration of Van Andel Institute’s

25th anniversary in 2021, I’d like to take a moment to first

reflect on 2020, the final year leading up to this important

milestone.

2020 brought with it countless challenges, but also many

triumphs. It pushed our Institute and society as a whole

to pivot and adapt. While there was certainly much to

overcome as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was

a surge of creativity and innovation as well.

Of all our touchstones and accomplishments this year

— and they are many, featured in prestigious scientific

journals and media coverage — we are perhaps most

proud of the overarching philosophy we have embraced

since the early days of VAI’s existence: that collaboration

is key to advancement. You’ll find evidence of this in the

following pages, in stories and anecdotes that reflect our

dedication to working together with one another and with

organizations around the world to improve the health

and enhance the lives of those here today as well as the

generations to come.

Our gratefulness knows no bounds, in large part

because we are indebted to thousands of individuals

and organizations in our hometown and beyond who

have aligned with our mission to alter the very course

of humanity and have continued to offer their support

through a tumultuous year.

This year forced changes to our collective reality, but the

progress made by VAI scientists and educators exemplified

our tenacity and commitment to sharing breakthroughs

and triumphs with the world. We will never stop working to

pursue scientific discoveries and stay on the cutting edge of

K–12 and graduate education. To that end, we have brought

together some of the brightest minds known to humankind,

men and women whose verve and passion know no bounds

in the quest to assuage a world in constant flux.

Your ardent support and your belief in what we do on the

Medical Mile empowers us to continue working urgently

to end diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

and to advance curiosity, creativity and critical thinking in

classrooms worldwide.

We hope the stories and images on the pages that follow

help to reflect the dynamic culture we’ve worked so hard to

develop and grow. We will work just as diligently during the

next quarter-century on behalf of so many in need.

As we celebrate our progress and set our compass for

distant horizons of groundbreaking discoveries, I thank

you — and the Institute thanks you — for your unwavering

support.

Gratefully,

David Van Andel

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO

2 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 3


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE

FOR RESEARCH

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH BRINGS

SCIENTISTS TOGETHER TO TAKE DISEASES

APART. HOW DO YOU ARRIVE AT REVOLUTIONARY

TREATMENTS AND BREAKTHROUGHS? UNLEASH

A GLOBAL COALITION OF BRILLIANT SCIENTIFIC

MINDS AND FOSTER AN ENTREPRENEURIAL AND

COLLABORATIVE PROCESS — ALL WHILE DOING A

WORLD OF GOOD.


Erin Dean: Turning uncertainty into action and hope

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer

among women in the United States, but how that

diagnosis affects each person varies greatly. When

Erin Dean was diagnosed in October 2017, she set down

a path that she never imagined.

“As a wife and mother to three wonderful and active

kids,” Erin said, “how do you fit a cancer diagnosis into

your schedule?”

Even before her diagnosis, Erin long supported Van Andel

Institute’s Couture for a Cure and the Duncan Lake Middle

School Cancer Walk, which directly benefit biomedical

research at VAI. Being involved took on a new meaning

after her diagnosis.

“I planned to run the Bee Brave 5K on a good friend’s

team that year,” Erin said. “But then I received my

diagnosis just a few days before race day, and I needed

to step back to understand what this meant for my life.”

Erin underwent a variety of treatments and will have

ongoing hormone therapy for another seven years. But

while 2020 was a trying year for the world, it was also her

first year without a major medical issue.

She is now training for the Bank of America Chicago

Marathon on behalf of VAI and was previously honored

during the ceremonial puck drop at the 2019 Grand

Rapids Griffins Purple Community Game. Her daughter,

Emily Dean, joined VAI’s Student Ambassador Program as

her own way to give back to the Institute.

“VAI’s work means more chances at life,” Erin said. “Even

though so many of us get a second lease on life, it’s not

without side effects — some of which are long-lasting.

Thinking about advancements that one day might make

going through cancer a little less horrible? It really gives

us hope.”

Scientists taking

on cancer

Scientists recognized for collaborative

efforts in cancer research

The American Association for Cancer Research

awarded 2020 AACR Team Science Awards to VAI

Professor Dr. Peter W. Laird, Director’s Scholar

Dr. Stephen B. Baylin and Associate Professor

Dr. Hui Shen for their pivotal roles in the

establishment and success of The Cancer Genome

Atlas (TCGA), a landmark National Institutes

of Health-led project that revolutionized our

understanding of cancer and is hailed as an

exemplar of scientific collaboration. The awards

recognize more than 100 individuals who were

central to TCGA from its inception through today.

Baylin holds a primary appointment at Sidney

Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns

Hopkins University.

SURROUNDED BY HER FAMILY, ERIN DEAN (CENTER) DROPS THE

CEREMONIAL PUCK AT THE 2019 GRAND RAPIDS

GRIFFINS PURPLE COMMUNITY GAME

6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


RESEARCH

Newly discovered potential biomarker

could ‘flag’ tumors sensitive to metabolic

therapy

A recently identified potential biomarker could help

scientists pinpoint which cancers are vulnerable

to treatment with biguanides, a common class of

medications used to control blood sugar in Type 2

diabetes. Biguanides have long been of interest to

cancer researchers because of their ability to target

cellular metabolism, which fuels the growth and

spread of malignant cells. The discovery, published

by Dr. Russell Jones and collaborators, may give

scientists a way to objectively determine which

types of cancer are sensitive to biguanide treatment

and illuminates how and why some patients may

respond better to biguanides than other patients. 1

1

Research reported in this publication was supported by the Canadian

Institutes of Health Research under grants MOP-142259 (Jones) and MOP-

123352 (Duchaine); The Medical Research Council under grant MC_UU_0015/2

(Hirst); and funding from ImmunoMet Therapeutics. The Goodman Cancer

Research Center Metabolomics Core Facility is supported by grants from the

Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

and Terry Fox Research Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the

authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the granting

organizations.

Seeking a new test to diagnose

pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a difficult foe and a master of

evasion. By the time it is diagnosed, it frequently is

far advanced, which limits options and complicates

treatment. Adding to the challenge, some pancreatic

cancers don’t respond to existing medications. The

result often is an agonizing decision: pursue treatment

that may or may not work, or focus on quality of life.

VAI Professor Dr. Brian Haab wants to change this

reality. He and his colleagues are developing a simple,

experimental blood test that distinguishes pancreatic

cancers that respond to treatment from those that

do not. This critical distinction could one day guide

therapeutic decisions and spare patients with resistant

cancers from undergoing unnecessary treatments with

challenging side effects.

“Knowing which type of pancreatic cancer a person

has is critical to choosing the right treatment strategy

for each patient,” Haab said. “We hope that our new

test, which detects a marker produced by cancer cells

of one subtype and not the other, will one day be a

powerful tool to help physicians and patients make the

best decisions possible.”

The experimental test is slated to undergo additional

clinical validation. 2

2

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute;

the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award

no. U01CA152653 (Haab and Brand) and award no. U01CA226158 (Haab); the

Lustgarten Foundation (Tuveson); and the German Research Foundation (Plenker).

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily

represent the official views of the granting organizations.

Collaborating in a national initiative

against cancer

Biospecimens are the bedrock of scientific research —

without them, we wouldn’t be able to study cancer or

develop new treatments and diagnostics.

Last summer, VAI’s Biorepository was awarded a

$2.7 million, two-year subcontract from the Frederick

National Laboratory for Cancer Research currently

operated by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., on

behalf of the National Cancer Institute to serve as the

biorepository for the Cancer Moonshot Biobank study,

a national initiative to transform cancer treatment and

prevention through accelerated research.

“We are honored to be part of the Cancer Moonshot

Biobank study and look forward to doing our part to

support research and improve cancer care,” said

Dr. Scott Jewell, director of VAI’s Core Technologies and

Services, which includes the Institute’s Biorepository.

The Cancer Moonshot was launched in 2016 by the

Obama Administration. Its strategic aims, determined

by a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts, are designed to

answer critical scientific and medical questions while

ensuring the samples collected represent the diversity

of the U.S. population. 3

3

The project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the

National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under contract no.

HHSN261201500003I, Task Order HHSN26100042 through Leidos Biomedical

Research, Inc. under subcontract no. 20X062Q. The content of this publication

does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health

and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or

organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 7


Brent Brinks: A commitment to sparking

life-changing innovation

Brent Brinks and the company he leads, Buist

Electric, helped build VAI from the ground up —

literally. In 2009, Buist Electric’s work was critical in

completing the second phase of the Institute’s building.

Since then, the Brinks family and Buist Electric have

passionately supported VAI both through individual

giving and sponsorship of Winterfest, VAI’s annual

fundraiser for Parkinson’s research, and Hope on the Hill,

VAI’s annual gala.

“As a people-focused company, it’s very important to us

to give back to our community,” Brent said. “With VAI,

that means supporting the groundbreaking research

that’s done right here in Grand Rapids.”

Their support took on new meaning four years ago, when

Brent’s mother, Sallie, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s

disease. Brent is hopeful that the research underway

in the Institute’s labs will lead to life-changing ways to

slow or stop disease progression — something current

treatments cannot do.

“Without research, progress isn’t going to happen. That’s

why supporting science is so critical,” Brent said. “We

support VAI’s pursuit of breakthroughs for my mom and

for everyone with Parkinson’s.”

THE BRINKS FAMILY

8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


Making promising progress

in Parkinson’s

RESEARCH

Scientists have a gut feeling about

Parkinson’s

The gut and the brain may seem wildly different.

But an in-depth look reveals that their relationship

is much closer than meets the eye — in fact, they

share so many connections that the gut is widely

considered to be the body’s “second brain.”

It makes sense, then, that science is increasingly

pointing to the gut for insights into Parkinson’s. For

example, in 2020, VAI scientists and their colleagues

found that abnormal shifts in the vast population of

helpful microbes in the gut may tilt the production of

bile acids toward more toxic forms.

Importantly, these shifts were seen only in people

with Parkinson’s and not in people without the

disease, a key difference that suggests these acids

could provide a new way to diagnose Parkinson’s

early and track its progression. The insights may

even lead to new opportunities for developing

treatments that impede Parkinson’s-related changes

in the gut, and possibly for slowing or stopping

disease onset and progression.

The research was led by the late Dr. Viviane Labrie of

VAI and collaborators at Beaumont Health, Michigan

State University College of Human Medicine and

Oregon Health & Science University. 4

4

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute and the

Farmer Family Foundation (P. Brundin, with L. Brundin, Pospisilik and Labrie as

co-investigators).

Labrie also held awards from the Department of Defense, National Institute of

Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health and Michigan

State University through the Gibby & Friends vs. Parky Parkinson’s Disease Research

Award. Graham holds awards from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders

and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Aging of

the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association and The Michael J. Fox

Foundation.

Connecting the dots between Parkinson’s

and age

Aging is one of the biggest risk factors in Parkinson’s.

This connection has been known for a long time,

yet the answer to one seemingly small but complex

question remains unclear: why?

Now, scientists from VAI and the University of

Minnesota Medical School are collaborating to root

out clues, with the goal of one day developing new

ways to promote healthy aging.

Together, VAI’s Dr. Darren Moore and Dr. José Brás

and University of Minnesota’s Dr. Michael Lee and

Dr. Laura Niedernhofer seek to uncover the precise

reasons why age increases the risk for developing

Parkinson’s.

Their innovative project is supported by a $6.2 million,

three-year grant from the Aligning Science Across

Parkinson’s initiative, an international collaborative

research effort partnering with The Michael J. Fox

Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to implement

its funding.

Teaming up against Parkinson’s

In 2020, VAI and Cure Parkinson’s (formerly The

Cure Parkinson’s Trust) welcomed a new partner

to our collaborative endeavor to find life-changing

treatments for Parkinson’s — the John Black

Charitable Trust. The strategic partnership is now

worth $6.75 million.

Together, we are thrilled to collaborate on the

International Linked Clinical Trials initiative, which

supports clinical trials that repurpose medications

developed to treat other diseases and that have shown

potential to slow or stop Parkinson’s progression.

VAI welcomes Parkinson’s expert

to its team

In the summer of 2020, VAI welcomed Dr. Michael

Henderson to its growing team of scientists.

An expert in Parkinson’s disease and dementia

with Lewy bodies, Henderson investigates the

role of abnormal proteins in disease onset and

progression, with the goal of developing new,

life-changing therapies. He has made landmark

contributions to the understanding of Parkinson’s

and neurodegeneration, such as showing that alphasynuclein

proteins take advantage of the brain’s

own structure to spread and that an enzyme called

glucocerebrosidase (GBA) plays an important role in

propelling alpha-synuclein’s propagation.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 9


Research highlights

VAI plans an ambitious path forward

In the fall of 2020, Van Andel Institute finished outlining its new strategic vision for

the next five years. This plan, called Research 4.0, lays out a bold path for the future

of VAI’s research and builds on the strong foundations and success of the past — all

made possible in part thanks to our donors and their steadfast dedication to our

mission.

Importantly, the plan affirms our focus on basic research discovery in epigenetics,

neurodegenerative science, cell biology, structural biology and metabolism. It also

renews our commitment to cancer and Parkinson’s through the establishment of

two new Focal Centers — the VAI Cancer Center and the VAI Parkinson’s Disease

Center — which serve as hubs for translating groundbreaking discoveries into clinical

trials. In addition, Research 4.0 kick-started an ambitious campaign to recruit new

scientists to VAI in order to grow our scientific capacity and broaden our impact.

Understanding how brain cells maintain balance to keep us healthy

Imagine standing on the moon and having eyes so powerful that you can clearly

watch a tennis match on Earth. Now imagine that same optical power packed into

a high-tech microscope, and you have cryo-EM — a groundbreaking technology

that helps scientists study the smallest components of life in exquisite detail. Using

the Institute’s state-of-the-art cryo-EM, VAI scientists Dr. Wei Lü and Dr. Juan Du,

in collaboration with Dr. Zhaozhu Qiu of Johns Hopkins University, captured highresolution

images that help explain how cells sense and respond to their environment.

The images depict molecular “gates” that open and close, letting chemical messages in

and out while also helping maintain pH balance within brain cells — a critical function

that keeps cells alive and helps prevent stroke and other brain injuries. 5

5

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute; McKnight Scholar Awards in Neuroscience (Du, Qiu),

Klingenstein-Simons Scholar Awards (Du, Qiu); Sloan Research Fellowships (Du, Qiu); the National Institute of General Medical

Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R35GM124824 (Qiu); the National Institute of Neurological Disorders

and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R01NS118014 (Qiu), R01NS112363 (Lü) and R01NS111031 (Du);

the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R56HL144929 (Lü); a Pew

Scholar in Biomedical Sciences award (Du); and the American Heart Association under award no. 20POST35120556 (Ruan) and

18PRE34060025 (Osei-Owusu). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the

official views of the granting organizations.

Releasing a molecular ‘brake’ kick-starts immune cell function

The immune system’s ability to marshal specialized cells to fight off infection relies in

part on tiny molecules called microRNAs, which act as a release for the “brakes” that

keep cells dormant until needed, according to a study by Dr. Connie Krawczyk and

collaborators. The findings reveal new insights into the nuts and bolts of immune

function and add to a growing body of knowledge that could one day be leveraged to

optimize vaccines or immunotherapies for a number of diseases. 6

6

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) under

grant nos. RGPIN/2018-06257 and RGPIN/419537-2012 (Krawczyk). Brendan Cordeiro was supported by the McGill Integrated Cancer

Research Training Program, the Fonds de la Rescherche du Quebec-Santé and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The

content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the granting organizations.

First detailed images of ‘molecular machine’ provide foundation

for new therapies

Dr. Huilin Li and his team have revealed the first known atomic structure of a “molecular

machine” responsible for installing critical signaling proteins into cellular membranes.

The findings, published in Nature, shed new light on how this process works and lay the

foundation for potential future therapies for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and cystic

fibrosis. 7

7

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute and the National Cancer Institute of the National

Institutes of Health under award no. CA231466 (Li). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily

represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

A search for the genetic roots of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia worldwide. Now, Van Andel

Institute scientists believe they can strengthen our understanding of the disease’s

genetic precursors and find avenues for potential new therapies by hunting for clues in

one particular group with a unique genetic makeup: the Portuguese population. In the

largest and first study of its kind in the country, Dr. Rita Guerreiro will identify common

and rare genetic risk variants associated by mapping and analyzing the genome of a

Portuguese sample population. This data will be combined with publicly available data

from non-Portuguese populations to increase the diversity and statistical power of

ongoing international studies. 8

8

Research reported in this publication is supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under

award no. R01AG067426 (Guerreiro). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the

official views of the National Institutes of Health.

10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


“Impacting human health through

groundbreaking research is at the heart

of VAI’s mission. Research 4.0 sets the

stage for the Institute’s future and is an

important reminder of how far we’ve come,

particularly as we gear up to celebrate VAI’s

25th anniversary. There are great things

on the horizon and, together, we

can make the world a

better place.”

Peter A. Jones,

Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon)

VAI Chief Scientific Officer

RESEARCH

Hubs for translating impact

from lab to clinic

How do research breakthroughs in the lab become tangible treatments for those facing

diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s? Through clinical trials, like those supported by

Van Andel Institute’s Focal Centers.

Established in 2020, the VAI Cancer Center and VAI Parkinson’s Disease Center provide

support and infrastructure for VAI scientists seeking to develop and implement

translational cancer and Parkinson’s projects in Grand Rapids, West Michigan and beyond.

In the coming years, we expect the number of projects supported by the Centers to grow,

multiplying the Institute’s impact in cancer and Parkinson’s.

Dietary interventions may slow onset of inflammatory and

autoimmune disorders

Significantly reducing dietary levels of a specific amino acid, known as methionine,

could slow the onset and progression of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders

such as multiple sclerosis in high-risk individuals, according to a study published in

Cell Metabolism by Dr. Russell Jones and his team.

Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks

and destroys healthy tissue. For example, in multiple sclerosis, the immune

system targets the protective covering of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

The subsequent damage obstructs messages traveling to and from the brain,

resulting in progressively worsening symptoms like numbness, muscle weakness,

coordination and balance problems, and cognitive decline. There currently are

no treatments that significantly slow or stop multiple sclerosis without greatly

increasing the risk of infection or cancer. These findings provide further basis for

dietary interventions as future treatments for such disorders.

Cancer Center

The Cancer Center supports projects

and clinical trials for several different

types of cancer in partnership with

organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer

Epigenetics Dream Team

Finding the cancer therapies of tomorrow

requires visionary thinking and innovative

research today. The VAI–SU2C Epigenetics

Dream Team fosters collaboration between

several of the world’s most respected

research and clinical organizations in an

effort to quickly move promising potential

therapies into clinical trials.

Research by the numbers

13 Trials launched

1 Trial in development

500+ Patients

Parkinson’s Disease Center

The Parkinson’s Disease Center

supports projects and clinical trials that

investigate potential therapies to slow or

stop Parkinson’s progression — a feat not

possible with existing treatments.

International Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT)

Since 2012, VAI has partnered with Cure

Parkinson’s to support clinical trials of

medications developed to treat other

diseases that also show potential for

impeding Parkinson’s progression.

Research by the numbers

15 Trials launched

10 Trials in development

850+ Patients

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 11


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators

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

lives of current and future generations through groundbreaking biomedical research.

LEADERSHIP

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

Chief Scientific Officer; Director, Cancer Center

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon), is a pioneer in epigenetics,

a growing field that explores how genes are regulated and

provides new avenues for developing therapies for cancer and

other diseases. His discoveries have helped usher in an entirely

new class of drugs that have been approved to treat blood

cancer and are being investigated in other tumor types. Jones is a past president of the

American Association for Cancer Research, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, a Fellow of

the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National

Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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

Deputy Chief Scientific Officer; Director, Parkinson’s

Disease Center

Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., investigates molecular mechanisms

in Parkinson’s disease, and his goals are to develop new

therapies aimed at slowing or stopping disease progression or

repairing damage. He is one of the top-cited researchers in the

field of neurodegenerative disease and leads international efforts to repurpose drugs to

treat Parkinson’s.

Scott Jewell, Ph.D.

Director, Core Technologies and Services; Director,

Pathology and Biorepository Core; Professor, Department

of Cell Biology

Scott Jewell, Ph.D., leads VAI’s Core Technologies and Services,

which provides technology and specialized expertise for

research investigators. Services include bioinformatics and

biostatistics, cryo-EM, optical imaging, flow cytometry, genomics, pathology and

biorepository, vivarium management and transgenics. Jewell is a past president of the

International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER).

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D.

President and Dean, Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., is the dean of Van Andel Institute

Graduate School. His lab, which closed in 2018 after 31 years of

productive research, explored the genetic and epigenetic control

systems of viruses to understand how infections progress and

to reveal new ways to stop them. His discoveries with herpes

simplex viruses opened up new possibilities for antiviral drug development and revealed

new insights into how human cells control gene expression.

DEPARTMENT OF EPIGENETICS

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D., seeks to understand how we become

whom we become, and how our disease susceptibility is defined

from early on in life, even before conception, with the long-term

goal of being able to predict lifelong health outlook at birth.

12 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


RESEARCH

Stephen B. Baylin, M.D.

Director’s Scholar; Professor

Stephen Baylin, M.D., studies the body’s genetic control systems

— called epigenetics — searching for vulnerabilities in cancer.

Baylin is a pioneer in this field and was among the first to trace

epigenetic causes of cancer. His studies have led to new therapies

for breast, lung and colorectal cancers, among others. He is

co-leader of the Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team, a

Director’s Scholar at VAI and co-head of Cancer Biology at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive

Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D.

Professor

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D., seeks a detailed understanding of the

molecular foundations of cancer, with a particular focus on

identifying crucial epigenetic alterations that convert otherwise

healthy cells into cancer cells. He is widely regarded as an

international leader in this effort and has helped design some of

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

Laird also is a principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute’s Genome Data

Analysis Network and played a leadership role in The Cancer Genome Atlas, a multiinstitutional

effort to molecularly map cancers.

Department of Epigenetics

The Department of Epigenetics seeks to understand the

plasticity of our genomes and how our genetic output can

be stably modified to protect us from or predispose us to

complex diseases such as cancer, infection, obesity and

Parkinson’s. Faculty investigate the molecular processes

that fine-tune how DNA is packaged and how this packaging

is stabilized to form disease programs. In this way, they will

mine the origins of these complex diseases, mapping them to

genetic and environmental inputs now, in our early lives, and

even before birth.

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.

Professor

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D., studies how the body switches genes on and

off, a biological process called methylation that, when faulty,

can lead to cancer or other diseases. His studies range from the

effect of tobacco smoke on genetic and epigenetic systems to

the discovery of a mechanism that may help protect the brain

from neurodegeneration. Pfeifer’s studies have implications across a range of diseases,

including cancer, Parkinson’s, diabetes and many others.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 13


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D., studies the ways in which cells pack and

unpack DNA. This elegant process twists and coils roughly

2 meters of unwound DNA into a space less than one-tenth the

width of a human hair. Although this process is impressive, it is

also subject to errors that can cause cancer and other disorders.

Rothbart seeks new targets for drug development in this process.

Hui Shen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Hui Shen, Ph.D., develops new approaches to cancer prevention,

detection and treatment by studying the interaction between

genes and their control systems, called epigenetics. Her research

focuses on women’s cancers, particularly ovarian cancer, and also

has shed new light on the underlying mechanisms of other many

cancer types, including breast, kidney and prostate cancers.

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.

Professor

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D., investigates the mechanisms that regulate

DNA and gene expression in an effort to better understand how

they impact cancer development. His research has led to the

discovery of several new “readers” of epigenetic marks that may

serve as targets for cancer treatment.

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D., studies the flow of epigenetic information

from parents to their offspring, with a focus on how epigenetic

markers are remodeled during egg and sperm production,

and how these markers are rewritten after fertilization. These

processes have profound implications on fertility and embryo

development. Disturbances in epigenetic remodeling are thought to contribute to

disease conditions lasting well into adulthood.

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

Assistant Professor

As a statistician and computational biologist with an interest

in clonal evolution and cancers of the blood, the work of

Tim Triche, Jr., Ph.D. focuses on wedding data-intensive

molecular phenotyping to adaptive clinical trial designs, in

an effort to accelerate the pace of drug targeting and

development in rare or refractory diseases.

Hong Wen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Hong Wen, Ph.D., investigates the molecular underpinnings of

pediatric cancers, with a focus on how epigenetic dysregulation

impacts genes expression and drives malignancy. Her work holds

great promise for developing new, improved therapies for these

devastating diseases.

DEPARTMENT OF NEURODEGENERATIVE SCIENCE

Darren Moore, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor

Darren Moore, Ph.D., seeks new diagnostic and treatment

approaches for Parkinson’s by investigating the inherited form

of the disease, which comprises 5% to 10% of cases. He aims

to translate the understanding of these genetic mutations into

better treatments and new diagnostic tools for Parkinson’s, both

inherited and non-inherited. Discoveries from Moore’s lab routinely elucidate the faulty

molecular interactions that transform healthy, functioning neurons into diseased ones.

14 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


RESEARCH

José Brás, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

José Brás, Ph.D., investigates how variations in our genes impact

the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such

as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Using cutting-edge technologies and bioinformatic approaches,

he has identified new genetic mutations that impact disease risk.

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

Professor

As a psychiatrist and a scientist, Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.,

seeks ways to diagnose and treat depression and suicidality

by studying inflammation of the nervous system. Her findings

may lead to earlier interventions for depressive patients and

to development of a new class of antidepressants that targets

the immune system. She also investigates how inflammatory mechanisms can damage

nerve cells in Parkinson’s disease.

Hong-yuan Chu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Hong-yuan Chu, Ph.D., investigates how and why dopamineproducing

cells die off in Parkinson’s, a process that underlies

many of the disease’s hallmark symptoms. He plans to leverage

this new knowledge to develop new, more precise ways to slow

or stop disease progression.

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D.

Professor

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D., searches the human genome for

minuscule changes that contribute to the onset, progression

and drug resistance of many diseases, including cancer and

Parkinson’s. His team deploys genome sequencing technologies

and high-powered computational arrays to tease out patterns

and interactions of markers and treatment targets from among the human genome’s

more than three billion DNA base pairs.

Department of

Neurodegenerative Science

The Department of Neurodegenerative Science focuses on

elucidating disease mechanisms and identifying novel diseasemodifying

therapeutic approaches for major neurodegenerative

diseases, with a special focus on Parkinson’s disease.

Additional areas of interest include dementias (Alzheimer’s

disease, dementia with Lewy bodies) and psychiatric disorders

(depression, anxiety). Department faculty have research

interests and expertise in the molecular underpinnings of

neurodegenerative disease through an understanding of genetic

risk, epigenetics, cell biology, biomarkers, neuropathology,

neuroinflammation, neural circuits and patient-derived

biospecimens. Their mission is to leverage new knowledge for the

development of treatments for Parkinson’s and related disorders.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 15


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D., parses the genetic variations that

contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s,

Alzheimer’s, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal

dementia. Her research has led to new insights into the genetic

contributors to these diseases, which currently have no cure

and no treatments that slow progression.

DEPARTMENT OF CELL BIOLOGY

Michael Henderson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Michael Henderson, Ph.D., investigates the causes of

neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and dementia with

Lewy bodies, and the factors that control disease progression.

He hopes to translate his findings into new therapies that slow

or stop this progression.

Bart Williams, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor

Bart Williams, Ph.D., studies the building blocks of bone

growth on behalf of the millions suffering from diseases such

as osteoporosis. He seeks new ways of altering cell signaling

pathways to encourage healthy bone development and deter

cancer spread to the skeleton.

Brian Haab, Ph.D.

Professor; Associate Dean, Van Andel Institute Graduate

School

Brian Haab, Ph.D., searches for new ways to diagnose and

stratify pancreatic cancers based on the chemical fingerprints

tumors leave behind. Part of the problem Haab aims to solve

is that cancers often look and behave normally — until after

they’ve started making people sick. Haab is sleuthing out clues to build a library of

diagnostic tools that will help providers diagnose tumors earlier and optimize treatment.

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

Professor, VAI; Director, DeVos Cardiovascular Research

Program (a joint effort between VAI and Spectrum Health);

Medical Director of Research, Frederik Meijer Heart and

Vascular Institute, Spectrum Health

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

itself and has led dozens of clinical trials in regenerative medicine.

As a critical care cardiologist and scientist, he uses a bench-to-bedside approach in an

effort to give patients with serious heart conditions longer, healthier lives. The clinical

platform for his research is the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at Spectrum Health

Hospitals Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, and the basic science effort in regenerative

medicine is performed at VAI.

Matt Steensma, M.D.

Associate Professor

Matt Steensma, M.D., studies the genetic and molecular factors

that cause benign tumors to become cancers, in search of

vulnerabilities that may be targeted for treatment. As a scientist

at VAI and practicing surgeon at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos

Children’s Hospital, he is committed to translating scientific

discoveries into treatments that improve patients’ lives.

Tao Yang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Tao Yang, Ph.D., studies the signaling systems that govern skeletal

stem cells and the role they play in diseases such as osteoarthritis

and osteoporosis. Bones are the largest producer of adult stem

cells, which mature into cartilage, fat or bone tissue — a process

that falters with age. Yang seeks a better understanding of these

systems in search of new treatments for degenerative bone disorders and other

skeletal aging.

16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


RESEARCH

Emeritus Faculty (In Memoriam)

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.

On April 13, 2021, the world lost

Dr. George Vande Woude, Van Andel Institute’s

founding research director and a worldrenowned

scientist whose storied career

revolutionized our understanding of cancer.

His vast scientific contributions, exceptional

vision and commitment to building world-class

research programs will galvanize discovery and

Department of Cell Biology

The Department of Cell Biology pursues fundamental discoveries

about how changes in cell growth, survival and function underlie

human diseases and identifies new strategies that could contribute

to improved quality of life. A central theme in all department work is

exploring how tissue-specific stem cells are regulated to maintain

physiological homeostasis in tissues and how inappropriate growth of

cells with these characteristics causes tumorigenesis.

scientific excellence for years to come.

Among Dr. Vande Woude’s most lauded breakthroughs is the 1984 discovery of the human

MET oncogene, which is now a major target for personalized cancer therapies. He was the first

to determine the structure and enhancer function of long terminal repeats, specific sequences

of the DNA that govern gene expression. He also was the first to show that mutations can

transform normal genes to cancer-promoting genes, or oncogenes. These foundational

discoveries — along with the findings detailed in more than 300 published, peer-reviewed

papers — will continue to shape cancer research and treatment now and into the future.

Over his career, Dr. Vande Woude accrued an impressive list of scientific accolades. He was

elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993, and the American Association for Cancer

Research Academy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013.

The proper regulation of cellular division, differentiation and survival

is required for all development in multi-cellular organisms, and the

dysregulation of these processes causes all human disease. The

Department of Cell Biology focuses on discovering the mechanisms

that underlie these processes, with a goal of understanding both

how they normally occur and how alterations in these processes

cause human disease. To this end, laboratories in the department

investigate the molecular mechanisms that control cellular processes

such as proliferation, apoptosis (programmed cell death), senescence

(cellular aging), signal transduction (how cells respond to signals from

their environment), and differentiation (how cells

change characteristics).

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 17


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators

DEPARTMENT OF STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY

Huilin Li, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor; Director, Cryo-EM Core

Huilin Li, Ph.D., uses cryo-electron microscopy to reveal the most

basic building blocks of DNA replication and other systems vital for

life. He has been at the vanguard of cryo-EM for more than 20 years,

and his research has implications for some of the world’s most

critical public health concerns, including tuberculosis, cancer,

mental illness, and many more.

Juan Du, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Juan Du, Ph.D., seeks to understand the brain’s intricate

communication systems using state-of-the-art structural biology

approaches, such as cryo-EM. Her work has revealed new insights

into critical processes such as temperature regulation in the human

body, which has implications for development of new medications

for neurological disorders.

Wei Lü, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Wei Lü, Ph.D., is working to unravel how brain cells communicate

with each other. Using techniques such as cryo-EM, his work

has contributed to the field’s understanding of molecules that

play crucial roles in the development and function of the

nervous system.

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D.

Professor

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D., studies molecular structure and cellular

communication, which have implications for finding new treatments

for serious health threats including cancer, diabetes and obesity.

His expertise extends beyond human cells — his research into plant

hormones may one day lead to heartier crops that resist drought

and help meet the nutritional demands of a growing global population.

Department of

Structural Biology

The Department of Structural Biology aims to understand

biology and human diseases at their most basic level.

Scientists in the department use a series of advanced

biophysical and biochemical techniques, such as

cryo-electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, mass

spectrometry and patch-clamp electrophysiology, to

determine the atomic structures of proteins and proteinnucleic

acid complexes and investigate their biological

functions both in vitro with purified samples and in cells.

The determination of these structures illuminates the

underpinnings of normal cellular function as well as

disease-related dysfunction. They also reveal the action

mechanisms of many existing drugs and may guide the

development of novel therapeutics.

18 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


RESEARCH

DEPARTMENT OF METABOLISM AND NUTRITIONAL PROGRAMMING

Russell Jones, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor

Russell Jones, Ph.D., investigates metabolism at the cellular level

to understand how it affects cell behavior and health, with a

specific eye on cancer and the immune system. By revealing how

cancer cells use metabolic processes to fuel their growth and

spread, he hopes to develop new treatments that help patients

by changing the standard of care for cancer.

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D., investigates the links between

metabolism, epigenetics and the immune system, with the goal

of understanding how they work together to keep us healthy and,

when things go wrong, to promote disease.

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D., is investigating how the dietary choices

of parents may impact the health of their offspring in the hopes

of translating her findings into new ways to prevent disease and

create a healthier future.

Ning Wu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Ning Wu, Ph.D., investigates the interface between cellular

metabolism and cellular signaling, particularly as they relate to

cancer. On the most basic level, cancer is fundamentally a disease

of uncontrolled cell growth, and Wu believes that understanding

a tumor’s voracious energy requirements and altered signaling

pathways will lead to new treatments that optimize existing combination therapies and

identify novel therapeutic targets.

Department of Metabolism and

Nutritional Programming

For the human body to function properly, it must have the right amount of

energy and resources in the right place at the right time. The Department

of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming focuses on understanding the

intricate mechanics of cellular metabolism and their implications for human

health. Its major focus is understanding how environmental exposures and

metabolic dysfunction contribute to complex diseases such as diabetes,

autoimmunity, cancer and neurodegeneration. Research in the department

centers on metabolism and its intersection with cancer biology, immune

function (immunometabolism), metabolic physiology (diabetes and obesity),

and intergenerational inheritance of nutritional states. By leveraging

novel model systems (cellular, animal models and patient samples) and

approaches in molecular physiology, metabolomics, immunology and

epigenetics, department faculty are able to advance numerous fields,

unlocking new understanding of how metabolism fuels fundamental cellular

processes such as cell growth, survival and differentiation in various health

and disease contexts. The department’s mission is to rigorously study

metabolism and how it is impacted by nutrition, genetics and epigenetics, in

order to develop metabolism-based therapeutics and interventions with the

ultimate goal of improving human health.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 19


Van Andel Institute Graduate School,

in the words of its students

To understand what it’s like at Van Andel Institute Graduate School, we sat down with our Ph.D. candidates to hear what they had to say about learning from

VAI’s world-class scientists.

“I liked the idea of small class sizes and

the problem-based learning approach,

because I knew I would be challenged to

a greater extent than at other institutions.

Furthermore, I was intrigued by the exciting

and high-quality research taking place at

the Institute.”

— Shelby Compton, Ph.D. candidate in the

lab of Dr. Russell Jones

“Van Andel Institute was the first community

to give me the opportunity to get research

experience as an intern, and I feel a certain

level of loyalty for that. More importantly,

after working at the Institute for several

years, I witnessed firsthand the quality of

research being conducted here and the

respect VAI shows all its scientists.”

— Jordan Prahl, Ph.D. candidate in the

lab of Dr. Gerry Coetzee

“Having smaller-sized classes helps foster

a community within the graduate program

and ensures that no one is really a stranger

here. The problem-based learning was

another draw, as this approach felt very

similar to my projects at the NIH [National

Institutes of Health] and felt like a more

natural progression of knowledge and

understanding of the material.”

— Lauren McGee, Ph.D. candidate in the

lab of Dr. Matt Steensma

20 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


RESEARCH

“Medical school provides a solid foundation

for the basic sciences, but it doesn’t train

you how to ‘think like a scientist’ or how to

conduct biomedical research. In graduate

school, I’ve developed a complementary

set of skills in order to apply my previous

medical knowledge. Ultimately, I feel as

though dual training is synergistic, in that

my development as a physician and as a

researcher is enhanced by both training

paradigms.”

— Dylan Dues, M.D./Ph.D. student in the

lab of Dr. Darren Moore

“After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I never

wanted to sit in a large lecture hall-style

class again. The student-led discussions

and practical learning applications at the

Graduate School are an excellent way to

learn in a way that is particularly relevant to

Ph.D. careers. I am constantly impressed by

the amount of resources and support we

receive. I knew it was good when I accepted

admission, but the more I compare with my

peers at other schools, the more I realize

what a uniquely supportive environment we

have at the Institute.”

— Emery Haley, Ph.D. candidate in the

lab of Dr. Juan Du

“The small class size and faculty-to-student

ratio was one of the main selling points for

me — I knew that I would not fall through

the cracks. This was also apparent from

interacting with current students; they had

a strong sense of camaraderie as a student

body and were very satisfied with their

graduate school experience. I was also very

attracted by the annual travel funds that

would allow me to network and present my

project even during my first year of

graduate school.”

— Menusha Arumugam, Ph.D candidate in the

lab of Dr. Matt Steensma

For more about the Graduate School, visit vaigs.vai.org.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 21


Graduate School highlights

Graduate student statistics

GRADUATE SCHOOL

Graduate School student earns prestigious award

In September 2020, Graduate School alumna Dr. Maggie Chassé earned a prestigious early career award

from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. This marks the second consecutive

year that a VAI Graduate School student received the Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award,

also known as the F99/K00. Fewer than 24 of the F99/K00 are distributed each year.

“It is an honor to receive this award, which will be a tremendous help as I complete my studies with the

Graduate School and transition to a professional setting,” Chassé said. “I am grateful to the National Cancer

Institute for supporting the work of students and early career scientists like me.” The award provides up to

two years of financial support for Ph.D. candidates to complete their dissertation research, and up to four

years of support for postdoctoral training. Dr. Chassé completed her Ph.D. degree at VAI in spring 2021. 9

9

Research reported in this publication is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award no. F99CA253749. The content is

solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Graduate School prepares for growth, moves to new space

With big plans for the future, VAI Graduate School Dean Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg is looking to double the

number of graduate students in the coming years. In the spring of 2021, the Graduate School will move to

a dynamic new facility on VAI’s campus that includes dedicated classroom and study spaces, social areas,

faculty and staff offices, and more. Applications are at record levels, and the Institute is drawing diverse

cohorts of students from around the country and world.

MAGGIE CHASSÉ

Applicant Pool

Academic Year 2018 2019 2020

Applicants 59 68 82

Admits 12 20 25

Admit Rate 20% 29% 30%

22 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


RESEARCH

Fall 2020 Cohort

6 Domestic 1 International

Primarily research

By Career Type

(current position, numbers current as of Sept. 1, 2020)

62%

Science-related

19%

In 2020, the Graduate School

received an impressive

110 student applications for

the upcoming academic year

— a more than 50% increase

from 2018 application

numbers. The year also saw

seven new students join the

Graduate School, and five

students completed

their degrees.

Number of Graduate

School student

applications, by year:

2020 — 110

2019 — 82

2018 — 68

Primarily teaching

14%

Further training or

5%

education

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

By Job Sector

(current position, numbers current as of Sept. 1, 2020)

Nonprofit

29%

5.5 Median years to Ph.D.

For-Profit

19%

70% Completion rate for Ph.D.

76% Completion rate for M.S. and Ph.D.

Academia

52%

0 10 20 30 40 50 60

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 23


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE

FOR EDUCATION

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE FOR EDUCATION IS

DEDICATED TO CREATING CLASSROOMS

WHERE CURIOSITY, CREATIVITY AND

CRITICAL THINKING THRIVE.


From cohort to college: Analis Floyd

ANALIS FLOYD

Analis Floyd tromped through the

Grand Rapids-area marshland,

searching for crawfish and other

animals that she could observe in their

natural, swampy habitat. At times, she

reached down to take water samples, to

test for bacteria and other water quality

indicators.

This wasn’t a traditional research mission,

spearheaded by an environmental agency

or a university. Analis was in grade school

at the time, and she was out in nature

with Van Andel Institute for Education’s

Afterschool Cohort.

Analis joined Afterschool Cohort in the

2006 school year. Her elementary school

principal noticed her academic gifts and

recommended her family sign her up for

the program, which is open to students in

grades 4–7.

Afterschool Cohort immersed Floyd

and her fellow students in engaging

experiences and thought-provoking

experiments designed to help students

learn to think and act like scientists

by applying the scientific method —

proposing a hypothesis and testing it.

Analis remembers conducting experiments

to learn about bacteria on lizards and

how different soils and fertilizers affect

plant growth. At the end of each semester,

students would present their findings to

each other, which helped Analis develop

her public speaking skills.

“Afterschool Cohort opened up a lot

of opportunities for me academically,”

said Analis. “Being that young and super

curious, I was exposed to a lot that I

wouldn’t have been exposed to, being an

inner-city kid in Grand Rapids.”

Analis’ early introduction to the scientific

method through Afterschool Cohort

helped her throughout her education. At

Grand Rapids City High School, she took

advanced biology classes. She earned a

pre-physical therapy degree from Aquinas

College. As of spring 2021, she was close

to completing her master’s degree in

biomedical sciences at Grand Valley State

University while working at Grand Rapidsbased

Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy.

“To graduate from my master’s degree

program, I have to propose a thesis and

then defend it,” said Analis. “I have to do

research and experiment design and use

the scientific method. Because I did it so

much growing up and during Cohort, I

know what to look for and how to make

things clear and concise.”

Visit vaei.org for more information about

Afterschool Cohort. The program is offered at

no cost thanks to the generous support of a

VAI donor.

26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


VAI helps bring the classroom

to everyone

EDUCATION

Classrooms have the power to transform lives. They serve as the epicenter of society’s

collective efforts to develop and encourage young minds to thrive in an increasingly fastpaced

world. When the pandemic struck, it challenged traditional classroom learning and required

education to happen nearly everywhere besides the classroom: the dinner table, the kitchen

counter, the spare room-turned-home office.

Van Andel Institute for Education was uniquely poised to meet this challenge head-on. The Institute

provided exceptional support to educators and families in a deeply stressful and uncertain

environment. Our sharp, nimble staff of expert educators quickly responded and adapted to

shifting trends in K–12 education. Learning couldn’t miss a beat, and we amped up our work.

Teachers who had spent precious time mapping out in-person lesson plans needed new material

for the world of distance learning. From the outset, VAI buckled down and transitioned our

programs to virtual and, when necessary, a hybrid format for virtual and in-person settings. VAI’s

educators also created “Keep Curiosity Alive,” a carefully curated and continually updated list of

online lessons and science experiments.

Student summer camps moved online, and in order to combat “Zoom fatigue,” the Institute

incorporated elements that would get students up, moving and away from the computer.

Afterschool Cohort, one of our most popular student programs, also moved to a fully

online format.

The Institute launched a series of webinars where teachers could connect with our expert

educators as well as each other to discuss best practices in new learning environments, and VAI’s

Flex PD teacher professional development programs went virtual with great success. The Institute

created online and hybrid versions of Blue Apple project-based learning units, so teachers could

use them in whatever environment best suited their needs. We also offered new Customized

Virtual Science Experiences, giving parents and teachers crucial access to on-demand

science lessons.

So many of society’s most cherished institutions — our schools included — were significantly

impacted by the pandemic. It challenged teachers, parents and students to rethink what a learning

environment looks like. Van Andel Institute for Education’s pivot to virtual made sure they were

supported when they needed it most.

DIRECTOR & CHIEF EDUCATION OFFICER TERRA TARANGO

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 27


Education highlights

Blue Apple projects adapt to

new settings

As learning moved to virtual and hybrid

formats, Van Andel Institute for Education

adapted each inquiry-based Blue Apple project

to amplify impact in whatever setting students,

teachers and parents found themselves.

Educators across the nation used Blue

Apple materials to propel students through

these overwhelming challenges and to bring

curiosity, creativity and critical thinking to

wherever students were learning.

Blue Apple Timely Topics connect

students to current events

The pandemic disrupted even the best-laid

plans, and teachers looking for support as

they pivoted to new learning environments

found it at Van Andel Institute for Education.

The Institute launched a new program called

Timely Topics, a series of free, 15-minute mini

lessons on matters ranging from civil debate

to the changing seasons. The lessons immerse

students in meaningful discussions on current

events and relevant issues through hands-on

investigations and experiments.

Customized Virtual Science

Experiences help teachers on-demand

Students learn best through engaging, handson

lessons. This is even more important —

and challenging — in virtual settings. VAI’s

Customized Virtual Science Experiences

give teachers and parents the tools to help

students succeed with fun, interactive

science experiments. The Institute works

with educators to craft experiences to meet

their individual needs and inspire students to

explore and solve problems using scientific

methods, tools and resources.

To learn more, visit vaei.vai.org.

2,174 teacher

professional development

webinar registrations

416 students served

with virtual science

experiences

STUDENTS AT

CROSSROADS CHARTER

ACADEMY & THE SHIPLEY

SCHOOL PARTICIPATE IN

“PREVENT THE SPREAD”

28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


EDUCATION

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 29


EVENTS AND

PHILANTHROPY

AT VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE, EVENTS AND PHILANTHROPY ARE RAISING

THOUSANDS TO HELP MILLIONS. OUR DONORS AND PHILANTHROPIC

PARTNERS ARE CONNECTED BY A SHARED SENSE OF COMMITMENT TO THE

INSTITUTE’S MISSION. THEIR CREATIVITY, PASSION AND DEDICATION HAVE

HELPED VAI BECOME A THRIVING CENTER FOR BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH AND

K–12 AND GRADUATE EDUCATION. THE INSTITUTE’S SIGNATURE EVENTS

SERVE AS IMPORTANT CATALYSTS FOR SCIENTIFIC INNOVATION AND BRING

TOGETHER COMMUNITY MEMBERS IN SUPPORT OF INITIATIVES THAT GIVE

PEOPLE HOPE FOR A HEALTHIER FUTURE.


Winterfest Celebration

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT,

GOING CLOCKWISE)

STEVE & KELLY UELAND,

KIM & CARL SEYMOUR &

GEORGE & CHARITY BENNETT;

GUESTS GATHERED FOR EVENING

PRESENTATIONS;

GEORGE & MISSY SHARPE WITH

CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL;

JASON LAMOREAUX;

MIKE & SALLY MURDOCK

WITH JIM & DIANE ZUBKAS

Note: Some photos in this edition of

the Annual Report were taken prior

to distancing guidelines related to the

COVID-19 pandemic.

32 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


VAI Forum on Parkinson’s,

Alzheimer’s & Lewy Body Dementia

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT,

GOING CLOCKWISE)

ERIC HAUSLER, PETE JOUWSTRA &

DONNA HAUSLER; DAVID VAN ANDEL;

MIKE & LYNETTE ELLIS,

DR. RITA GUERREIRO, DR. JOSÉ BRÁS &

MIKE & SUE JANDERNOA;

GUESTS SOCIALIZE AT GREY OAKS

COUNTRY CLUB IN NAPLES, FLORIDA

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 33


Board of Governors Virtual Dinner

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING

CLOCKWISE) KATHY & PHIL VOGELSANG;

VICKY LUDEMA PICKS UP COOPER’S HAWK

WINE PROVIDED TO GUESTS PRIOR TO THE

EVENING; GEORGE & MISSY SHARPE;

MISSY SHARPE PICKS UP COMPLIMENTARY

MINI BUNDT CAKES FROM NOTHING BUNDT

CAKES; PICKUP STATION AT COOPER’S HAWK

WINERY & RESTAURANT IN KENTWOOD,

MICHIGAN

34 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


VAI Golf Outing

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT,

GOING CLOCKWISE)

CAROL VAN ANDEL, SUSAN SHAW,

BETH VAN PORTFLIET & MARCIE ROTH;

JARED VELDHEER, KYLE VAN ANDEL,

DAVID VAN ANDEL & JACK DOLES;

LYNNE JARMAN-JOHNSON; JARED

VELDHEER; GOLFERS WARM UP

THEIR SHOTS

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 35


Couture for a Cure

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE) GUESTS SAW A

VARIETY OF ECLECTIC LOOKS FROM LEIGH’S; DAWN SHOCKLEY,

LINDA HEYS & PEGGY GREYDANUS; FEATURED DESIGNER BYRON

LARS JOINS LEIGH’S OWNER REBECCA WIERDA & CAROL VAN ANDEL

VIA ZOOM; BYRON LARS’ LOOKS FEATURE CONTOURED SILHOUTTES,

INTRICATE SEAMING, EMBROIDERY & COUTURE DETAILING;

MARANDA, REBECCA WIERDA, CAROL VAN ANDEL

& AMWAY’S CANDACE MATTHEWS

36 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


Hope on the Hill Gala —

Star Light, Star Bright

EVENTS

(STARTING AT THE TOP LEFT, GOING CLOCKWISE)

PABLO & JENNA PRIETO (FRONT), CHRIS & ALYSSA NANCE,

TANYA & CHARLIE ROWERDINK; PEGGY GREYDANUS,

DAWN SHOCKLEY & LAURA HUIZENGA;

CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL PREPARE TO TOAST TO THE

20TH ANNIVERSARY; THE EVENING’S VIRTUAL FEATURED

PERFORMERS, THE DETROIT YOUTH CHOIR

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 37


A Conversation About Depression

Hosted By Carol Van Andel

DR. ERIC ACHTYES, DR. LENA BRUNDIN &

DR. MARK EASTBURG JOIN MARANDA & CAROL VAN ANDEL VIRTUALLY

238 | | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


Signature special event sponsors

We are grateful to have extraordinarily dedicated signature event sponsors. Thank

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

PHILANTHROPY

AHC Hospitality

AIC Insurance Services

Amway

Anonymous

Aon

Steven & Amanda Barbour

Barnes & Thornburg LLP

BD’s BBQ

Belwith Keeler

Betz Industries

BHS Insurance

Dave & Jill Bielema

Blue Cross Blue Shield

Bluewater Technologies

Chuck & Christine Boelkins

Brody’s Be Café

Buist Electric

Calamos Investments

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan

Scott & Heidi Campbell

Carnelian Energy Capital

Charles Anderson

Cheeky Strut

Consumers Credit Union

Cornerstone University

Corporate Cocktail Co.

Mimi Cummings

Cumulus Media

Tom & Tracy Curran

Custer Inc.

CWD Real Estate Investment

Davenport University

David & Carol Van Andel Family

Foundation

Deloitte

Mike & Jean Dery

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh

Jeff & Mary Dixon

Edge Natural Resources

Eenhoorn LLC

Eileen DeVries Family Foundation

Ellis Parking

Engelsma Homes LLC

Erhardt Construction

Ernst & Young

Eurest

Fifth Third Private Bank

First National Bank

First National Bank of Michigan

Foremost Insurance Group

Gallagher Insurance

Grand Rapids Business Journal

Grand Rapids Christian Schools

Grand Valley State University

Martin & Peggy Greydanus

Patti Griswold

Jana Hall

Hansen — Balk Steel Treating Co.

Harvey Automotive

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate

HB Wealth Management

HealthBridge

Dave & Donna Hockstra

Hope College

Howard Miller

J.C. & Tammy Huizenga

Huizenga Group

Bill & Starr Humphries

Ben & Molly Hunting

ICN Foundation

iHeart Media

Mike & Sue Jandernoa

Jeffery Roberts Design

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones

Kloostra Family Foundation

Al & Robin Koop

Craig & Deb Kinney

Blake & Mary Krueger

John & Katie Kuiper

Ray & Jeannine Lanning

Lighthouse Insurance Group

Loomis, Sayles & Company

Gary & Vicky Ludema

Macatawa Bank

Making the Turn Against Parkinson’s

McAlvey Merchant & Associates

McShane & Bowie, PLC

Deb Meijer

Mercy Health

Merrill Lynch — The Veldheer, Long,

Mackay & Bernecker Group

Metro Health — University of

Michigan Health

Michigan State University — College

of Human Medicine

Midwest Capital Advisors

New Holland Brewing Co.

Northern Jet Management

Nothing Bundt Cakes

NPF Investment Advisors

Oppenheimer & Company Inc. Michael

J. Murdock

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.

Palio

Perper Design

Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation

Pine Rest Christian Mental

Health Services

Pioneer Construction

PL Capital Advisors, LLC

Priority Health

Reds at Thousand Oaks

Tom & Brenda Rinks

Rockford Construction

Paul Becker & Eve Rogus

Rowerdink Inc.

John & Therese Rowerdink

Rycenga Building Center

San Chez Bistro

Secrest Wardle

Tony & Dawn Semple

Sharpe

Slows BBQ

Spectrum Health

Rob & Susan Stafford

Steelcase

Stephen Klotz Family Foundation

Straight Line Design

Tom & Mary Stuit

Suburban Landscapes

Summit Point Roofing

Taconic Charitable Foundation

The Chop House

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck

The Steve & Amy Van Andel Foundation

Thomas S. Fox Family

TKS Security

Townsquare

Trillium Ventures

US Bank

US Signal

Sharon Van Dellen

Mike & Michelle Van Dyke

Dan & Ann Van Eerden

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet

Brian & Lori Vander Baan

Mike & Gayle VanGessel

Vintage Prime & Seafood

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP

West Michigan Woman

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak

Greg & Meg Willit

Robert & Karen Wiltz

Wolverine Worldwide

Women’s Lifestyle

Zip Xpress Inc.

Jim & Jane Zwiers

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 39


Consumers Credit Union: A community

partnership of action and hope

The support of dedicated community partners bolsters biomedical research and

educational programs at Van Andel Institute year after year. This group of cherished

supporters includes Consumers Credit Union, whose collaborative efforts with VAI are

co-championed by their chief marketing officer, Lynne Jarman-Johnson.

When Lynne joined Consumers a decade ago, the company was hosting a 5K/10K run

that became extremely popular and all-consuming. They began looking for a partner with

experience in races to help with the expertise of executing a successful, charitable race.

“In our search for a community partner with that know-how, we learned about the VAI

Purple Community 5K and got in touch about creating a partnership,” said Lynne. “Our 54th

Street office manager, Stephanie Stacey, coordinated the partnership. She ensured that we

volunteered with our feet on the ground in our communities and was the impetus for our

long-term partnership with VAI.”

“One of our values as a credit union is to be passionate. Our

passion for serving others and bridging gaps in wellness,

both financially and through our partnership with Van Andel

Institute, is a value we are honored to share.”

— Lynne Jarman-Johnson

The Consumers Credit Union Purple Community 5K has been going strong for six years. Consumers

has continued to grow their support for VAI’s mission through sponsorship of signature special

events such as the VAI Golf Outing, Couture for a Cure and the Hope on the Hill Gala.

“There are so many ways our organization can be a part of VAI’s mission, even in the midst of

such a difficult year,” said Lynne. “Our members are very community oriented, and for us to

be able to showcase that 100% of the funds raised through our VAI-focused events go directly

to research and education is an extremely powerful statement. When the pandemic hit, we

40 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


PHILANTHROPY

257 registrations for Consumers

Credit Union Virtual Public Lecture

knew our partnership was needed more than ever, and

while the Purple Community 5K is on hold, our support

is not.”

Most recently, the credit union collaborated with VAI to

host the Consumers Credit Union Virtual Public Lecture: A

Focus on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Dementia

as part of the Institute’s Public Lecture Series, held

virtually this year.

“I think that especially right now, people are craving to

learn. This last year has been a time of deep reflection for

many people,” said Lynne. “The educational component

of being able to listen to and ask questions of scientists

is something that nobody expects to be able to do, but

that — especially now — has been very calming for many

people and many of our members.”

$210,847 lifetime total

raised by the Purple Community 5K

LYNNE JARMAN-JOHNSON AT THE 2019

CONSUMERS CREDIT UNION PURPLE

COMMUNITY 5K

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 41


Jim & Jane Zwiers: Embodying the spirit of philanthropy

Members of Van Andel Institute’s Board of Governors

embody in their everyday lives the spirit of VAI’s

mission — to impact human health and enhance lives

for current and future generations.

Jim and Jane Zwiers are a prime example. The Calvin

University alumni have been married for nearly 31 years

and together have given time and funds to VAI for almost a

decade.

“Philanthropy is a big part of our lives and our family,

especially as it connects to things like youth, education and

the outdoors,” said Jane. “Each of our children has found a

way in their adult lives to remain connected to volunteering

and nonprofit work, and we are proud that they also

continue to give back to this community.”

Like many donors and volunteers at VAI, the Zwiers have

several close family members and friends who have

been impacted by diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s.

Supporting the Institute gives them a meaningful role in

addressing these diseases at the highest levels of research.

“We are privileged to have VAI’s world-class scientists

and facilities right here in Grand Rapids; they are deeply

impacting the lives of individuals and our community,”

said Jim. “At the fundraising and informational events, it’s

inspiring to hear about their ingenuity and skills. It makes

the work of VAI come to life.”

Wedgwood Christian Services Board and volunteers and

fundraises for a variety of other charities and nonprofits.

Jim, who formerly worked as a CPA and a lawyer after

receiving his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan,

now serves as executive vice president at Wolverine

Worldwide. Like his wife, he prioritizes giving back to his

community; he sits on the board of Grand Rapids’ famed

ArtPrize and previously served on the boards of several

industry and community nonprofit organizations.

“VAI’s mission is a bold one, but to supporters, volunteers,

scientists, staff and patients, it means hope,” said Jane.

“Hope for better health, hope for better understanding

and hope for cures to some of the most challenging and

devastating diseases facing our society.”

Members of Van Andel Institute’s Board of

Governors support the Institute financially and

are ambassadors who share VAI’s mission, vision

and important work with others to advance the

Institute’s efforts. Learn more about the

Board of Governors at vai.org/help-donate/

board-of-governors/.

The pair, in addition to their philanthropic support, also

dedicate time and energy to donor initiatives at the

Institute and beyond. Jane serves on VAI’s Hope on the

Hill Gala planning committee. She also serves on the

42 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020

JANE & JIM ZWIERS (LEFT); THE ZWIERS FAMILY (RIGHT)


Uniting young, ambitious professionals

in support of VAI’s mission

PHILANTHROPY

Young professionals looking to make an impact

on research into diseases like cancer and

Parkinson’s need look no further than Van Andel

Institute’s JBoard Ambassadors. This group, more

than 80 members strong, brings together the young,

philanthropic hearts and hands of Grand Rapids in

support of VAI’s mission to improve health and enhance

lives now and for generations to come.

“Van Andel Institute’s ability to bring the community

together under a common goal is unmatched,” said Kyle

Van Andel, a member of VAI’s JBoard Advisory Council

and son of Chairman and CEO David Van Andel and his

wife Carol Van Andel. “Whether it be through education

events, or volunteering, VAI understands that anyone

and everyone can contribute in a positive way. This

ability to bring people together has led to major cuttingedge

discoveries and will continue to create more

opportunities for many generations.”

To support those breakthroughs, JBoard Ambassadors

pledge to donate $25 a month, or $300 a year, all of

which directly benefits biomedical research and K–12

and graduate education at VAI. Members have the

opportunity throughout the year to engage directly with

Institute scientists and educators and learn more about

VAI’s work through events like Virtual Coffee Connection.

Although the annual JBoard Member Mixer went virtual

in 2020, Ambassadors were still able to enjoy wine

and cheese pairings from Aperitivo in the comfort

of their own homes while learning about the latest

groundbreaking work happening at VAI. Presenters

included Chief Education Officer Terra Tarango and

postdoctoral fellows Dr. Michael Dahabieh,

Dr. Emmanuel Quansah and Dr. Payton Stevens.

2020 JBoard Advisory Council

Co-chairs: Chad Bassett & Rachel Mraz

Christopher Billmeier

Kendra Osowski

Alex Schrotenboer

Kyle Van Andel

APERITIVO’S GENERAL MANAGER EVAN TALEN

& LEAD BARTENDER & EDUCATOR BEN

VANDERWAAL WALK VIRTUAL ATTENDEES

THROUGH WINE TASTINGS

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 43


Southside Hockey Fights Cancer brings hope to a difficult year

Looking back after such a challenging year, the annual

Southside Hockey Fights Cancer weekend was a true

spot of brightness. Walking into Southside Arena on

Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, it was impossible to miss all the purple

decor and the air of excitement and hope. By the end

of the weekend, the event raised more than $59,000 in

support of cancer research at VAI. And since the event’s

creation in 2016, more than $253,000 has been raised

— an incredible show of support from Southside and the

Grand Rapids community.

Hundreds of families and players turn out each year to

support VAI during this incredible three-day weekend:

Children play games and win prizes at the Purple

Community table, and the players’ families don every shade

of purple imaginable. Teams from across Michigan come to

play against Fox Motors Hockey, whose players each sport

a unique jersey featuring the name of a loved one who has

experienced a cancer diagnosis.

The biggest event of the weekend is the All-Star Game,

during which Southside chooses one special person to

participate in the ceremonial puck drop. For the past two

years, Eric Langdon, a loving husband and father who was

diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, has been featured as

the puck drop honoree.

Southside Hockey Fights Cancer gives the Grand Rapids

community a chance to show support for loved ones

who have faced cancer, and to have an impactful role in

the groundbreaking research into diseases like cancer

and Parkinson’s that happens every day at VAI. Thanks

to their incredible fundraising efforts on behalf of VAI,

Southside was inducted into the Institute’s Legacy Society

in 2018 — an honor bestowed on individuals, organizations

and businesses that have given more than $100,000

cumulatively to VAI.

Hockey Fights Cancer weekend at Southside holds a special

place in Eric’s heart, too: It serves as a reminder that there

are more people cheering him on — in life and on the ice

— than he could have ever imagined.

To learn more about Southside Hockey Fights Cancer and other

VAI events, visit vai.org/events.

PLAYERS HONOR LOVED ONES BATTLING CANCER (LEFT); ERIC

LANGDON DROPS CEREMONIAL PUCK AT THE 2020 GAME (ABOVE)

44 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


Scored Grant Program gives research

an extra boost

In 2020, West Michigan engineering firm Prein&Newhof marked 50 years in

business. To celebrate, and to honor the firm’s co-founder Thomas Newhof and

his wife Garretta, they established the Thomas & Garretta Newhof/Prein&Newhof

Research Fund to support Van Andel Institute’s Scored Grant Award Program.

Grants from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health are the

main source of funding for scientific research in the U.S. Funding is limited each

year, and the process for earning federal grants is highly rigorous and competitive.

To earn such a grant, a scientist must show that they have enough data to support

the idea they want to investigate. But conducting the research necessary to

generate this foundational data can be hampered by a lack of funding.

That’s where VAI’s Scored Grant Award Program comes in. It provides research

funding to scientists whose federal grant applications scored very highly, but just

below the funding threshold — giving scientists with promising projects the extra

boost needed to conduct the additional research necessary to put forth a revised,

successful application in the next round of grants. In 2020, four projects were

supported by the program.

Philanthropy highlights

A year of changes brings about creative adaptations

2020 brought about relentless challenges in our communities, and Van Andel

Institute was no exception. Even with such adversity surrounding us, VAI’s Purple

Community events made a strong showing and found ways to adapt.

• 38 student ambassadors joined VAI’s Student Ambassador Program, which went

virtual in 2020. The group held a virtual silent auction in April 2021 as a

culmination of the leadership and fundraising experience they gained through

the program.

• The annual Bee Brave 5K raised more than $58,000 after overcoming obstacles

created by the pandemic to host a fun, safe event in October.

• The Student Leadership Conference went virtual for the Zoom era and is

now available completely on-demand; when teachers want to schedule a time

to virtually tour VAI, hear directly from Institute scientists and conduct fun

experiments remotely, VAI is there to help.

For information about these programs and others, visit purplecommunity.vai.org.

VAI Marathon Team offers support start to finish

Van Andel Institute’s Marathon Team gets people moving in support of our

mission to improve health and enhance lives. Established in 2017 in conjunction

with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the VAI team receives a limited number

of free entries into the Chicago race and the TCS New York City Marathon each

year. Members have access to training programs and a supportive group of fellow

runners as they count down to race day. Since the team’s creation, 145 runners

have participated and raised more than $278,000 — all of which directly benefits

biomedical research and K–12 and graduate education programs at VAI.

“I would not have been that active, in that manner, doing those things, if it wasn’t

for the cause that I was doing it for,” said Ben Cook, a previous VAI Marathon Team

member who ran in memory of his late friend Eric Westra and his battle against

osteosarcoma. ”The infrastructure and the help and training VAI provided made it

a much better experience.”

Public Lecture Series thrives in virtual landscape

Van Andel Institute held four virtual public lectures in 2020 and one public

lecture in person prior to the outset of the pandemic. VAI experts shared

with the community — in Grand Rapids and, thanks to the virtual platform,

anywhere with internet — their knowledge on the latest breakthroughs and

trends in biomedical research and science education. Topics included cancer

research trends; Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia with Lewy bodies;

metabolism and its effect on future generations; and a look at the experience of

educating in a landscape changed by the pandemic. These presentations were

given by Dr. Peter A. Jones, Dr. José Brás, Dr. Rita Guerreiro, Dr. Patrik Brundin,

Dr. Darren Moore, Dr. Heidi Lempradl, Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik and Chief

Education Officer Terra Tarango.

For information on the 2021 Public Lecture Series, visit vai.org/events.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 45


PHILANTHROPY

Circle of Hope

The Jay and Betty Van Andel Circle of Hope

recognizes those who have included

Van Andel Institute in their will, trust, or other

estate plans. Through our acknowledgment of

and gratitude to these exceptional people, we

hope that their generosity will inspire others.

Anonymous

Vivian Anderson*

Blanche Ash*

Kevin & Michelle Bassett

Philip & Shirley Battershall

John* & Nancy Batts

Fred & Julie* Bogaert

William & Marilyn Crawford

Barbara Erhards

J. Scott Grill*

Joan Hammersmith*

Terry & Jacklyn Hickman

Arthur Joseph Jabury*

Maryanna Johnson

Reneé Kuipers*

Timothy & Kimberly Long

Donald* & Kathleen Maine

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols

LG* & Helen* Myers

Robert* & Lorraine* Nyhoff

Jone E. Phillips*

Donna Rosa

Ronald Rutkowski

Alan R. Ryan*

Ralph Siegel*

George Sietsema*

Eva Sonneville*

Fred L. Tape

Hylda* & Alvin* Tuuk

John E. VanFossen

John Visser*

Carol Winton*

John Wisneski*

*Indicates deceased

Circle of Hope members

By the numbers

69%

VAI VAI Operating Revenues

2%

4%

25%

$63,900K

$22,600K

$4,100K

$2,000K

Investment

return utilized

Grant &

contract revenue

Contributions

Other revenues

30%

Operating VAI Operating Expenses Expenses

4%

66%

$64,800K Research

$28,800K

$4,300K

Management,

general & other

Education

Designated Gifts | $5,271K Total

Unrestricted

$1,519K

$585K

$844K

$1,232K

$869K

$82K

$140K

Scientific Evt Sponsorships

Cancer

Other

Cardiovascular

Neurodegenerative

Internship Program

Neurodegenerative

Internship Program

Unrestricted

Education

Other

Cardiovascular

Cancer

Education

46 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


Institute Leadership Team

LEADERSHIP

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

David Van Andel is Chairman and CEO of Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids,

Michigan. He is also an entrepreneur involved in several other business

interests in the natural and life science products industries.

The son of Jay Van Andel, founder of Van Andel Institute and co-founder

of Amway Corporation, David is currently a member of Amway’s Board of

Directors and serves on its Executive, Governance and Audit committees.

Before leading Van Andel Institute, he had held various positions at Amway

since 1977, including chief operating officer of Amway’s Pyxis Innovations

Business Unit, and was senior vice president — Americas and Europe,

overseeing Amway business activities in North America and 22 European and

11 Latin American affiliates.

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

Deputy Chief Scientific Officer

Jerry Callahan, Ph.D., MBA

Chief Strategic Officer

Jana Hall, Ph.D., MBA

Chief Operations Officer

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

Chief Scientific Officer

Timothy Myers, MBA, CPA

Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Sam Pinto

Vice President & Chief Facilities Officer

Terra Tarango

Director & Chief Education Officer,

Van Andel Institute for Education

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D.

President & Dean, Van Andel Institute

Graduate School

Linda Zarzecki

Vice President of Human Resources

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 47


Van Andel Institute Board Members

Van Andel Institute

Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

Joan Budden

Former President & Chief Executive Officer, Priority Health

John Kennedy

President & Chief Executive Officer, Autocam Medical

Mark Meijer

Founder & President, Life E.M.S. Ambulance

Van Andel Research

Institute Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

Tom R. DeMeester, M.D.

Professor & Chairman Emeritus, Department of Surgery,

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

James B. Fahner, M.D.

Chief of Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s

Hospital

Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology;

Director, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer

Center; Director, Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory,

University of Chicago

George Vande Woude, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Emeritus; Founding

Research Director, Van Andel Institute

Max S. Wicha, M.D.

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Van Andel Education

Institute Trustees

David Van Andel

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute

James E. Bultman, Ed.D.

President Emeritus, Hope College

Susan Keipper Meell

Chief Executive Officer, MMS Education

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity

& Inclusion, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy,

Grand Valley State University; President Emeritus,

Aquinas College

Teresa Weatherall Neal, Ed.D. (hon)

Former Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools

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

MARK MEIJER & JOAN BUDDEN

48 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


BOARDS

Van Andel Institute Graduate

School Board of Directors

James B. Fahner, M.D.

Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology & Senior

Administrative Physician for Philanthropy & Community

Relations at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

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

Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Institute

Pamela Kidd, M.D.

Medical Medical Director, Hematology & Flow Cytometry

Laboratories of Spectrum Health & Helen DeVos

Children’s Hospital

Karen Klomparens, Ph.D.

Vice Chair; Former Dean of the Graduate School &

Associate Provost for Graduate Education, Michigan State

University

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.

Chairman of the Board; Distinguished Scholar in

Residence for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Dorothy A.

Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State

University; President Emeritus, Aquinas College

Mary O’Riordan, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

and Frederick C. Neidhardt Collegiate Professor of

Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan

Medical School

Danny R. Welch, Ph.D.

Founding Chair, Department of Cancer Biology, University

of Kansas Cancer Center

Van Andel Research Institute

External Scientific Advisory Board

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

Professor & Chair, Department of Epigenetics & Molecular

Carcinogenesis; Director, Science Park; Director, Center

for Cancer Epigenetics, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Xiaodong Cheng, Ph.D.

Professor, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer

Center, Department of Molecular & Cellular Oncology

Joseph Ecker, Ph.D.

Professor, Plant Molecular & Cellular Biology Laboratory;

Director, Genomic Analysis Laboratory, Salk Institute;

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

Theresa Guise, M.D.

Professor Department of Endocrine Neoplasia &

Hormonal Disorders; Chief, Section of Bone & Mineral

Disorders at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer

Center; Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas

(CPRIT) Scholar; Co-Director, The Rolanette & Berdon

Lawrence Bone Disease Program of Texas​; Co-Leader,

Tumor Microenvironment & Metastasis program of the

IU Simon Cancer Center, NCI Comprehensive Cancer

Center

Tony Hunter, Ph.D.

Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory; American

Cancer Society Professor; Renato Dulbecco Chair;

Director, Salk Institute Cancer Center

Anthony E. Lang, M.D.

Senior Scientist, Krembil Research Institute

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

Willard & Rhoda Ware Professor in Diabetes &

Metabolic Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine,

University of Pennsylvania

Thomas J. Montine, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Pathology, Stanford University

Max S. Wicha, M.D.

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 49


Van Andel Institute Board of Governors

Co-Chairs

Tim Long

Vicky Ludema

Members

Chris Ade

Perry Alburg

Liz Alexander

Rosemary Anderson

Kurt Arvidson

Tony & Kathleen Asselta

Jeff Battershall

Regena Bassett

John & Virginia Baysore

Norman & Kristina Beauchamp

Stacie Behler

Bradley & Anna Bengtson

Gregory & Rajene Betz

Karl & Patricia Betz

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi

Dave & Jill Bielema

Daniel Bitzer

Chuck & Christine Boelkins

Carrie Boer

M. Rodrick & Kathleen Bolhous

Chuck & Sarah Booth

Jeremy Bouwhuis

Patrick Brady

Leonard Brucato

Joan Budden

Dr. James E. Bultman

William & Jackie Bylenga

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan

Amy & Randall Chambers

Stacey Coffman

Mike & Kathy Cok

Steven & Diane Colvin

Stephen Comer

Matthew & Carlie Cook

Bill & Marilyn Crawford

Mimi Cummings

Tom & Tracy Curran

William Currie

Dave & Karen Custer

Stephen & Jennifer Czech

Jerry & Karen DeBlaay

Thomas & Jacquie DeJonge

Douglas & Sandra Dekock

Rob DeVilbiss

Dick & Betsy DeVos

Douglas & Maria DeVos

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh

Daniel & Viki Distin

Cynthia Dunlap

John Dykstra

Mark Eastburg

Michael & Lynette Ellis

Tim & Gail Emmitt

Henry & Anne Emrich

Mathew & Jennifer Fahrenkrug

Tom & Mickie Fox

Tina Freese-Decker

Edward Fritsch

Dan & LouAnn Gaydou

Todd & Brenda Gardner

Stuart & Lori Genschaw

John & Nancy Gordon

Brent & Cheryl Granger

Martin & Peggy Greydanus

Jefra Groendyk

Ronald Haan

Dr. Thomas & Marcia Haas

Peter Hahn

Jana Hall

Tom & Lynn Hammer

Scott Hammontree

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate

Lewis & Teresa Hendricks-Pitsch

Paul & Rosemary Heule

Steve Hodges

Dirk & June Hoffius

Rhonda & Marshall Huismann

J.C. Huizenga & Dr. Tammy L.

Born-Huizenga

Bill & Starr Humphries

Ben & Molly Hunting

John & Laura Hurley

Bea Idema

Kyle Irwin

Mike & Sue Jandernoa

Robert & Lynne Jarman-Johnson

Dr. Peter A. & Veronica Jones

John & Deb Kailunas

John & Nancy Kennedy

Craig & Debra Kinney

Stephen Klotz

Al & Robin Koop

Blake & Mary Krueger

Renee Kuipers

Michael & Brenda Lamfers

Ray & Jeannine Lanning

Kenneth Larm

Wayne & Terry Lobdell

Ray B. Loeschner

Kim Long

Steve Longstreet

Gary Ludema

Michael & Suzanne Lunn

David Madiol

Kathleen Maine

John & Michele Maly-Dykema

Joe Martinez

Holly McCaw

Michael & Jen McGraw

Deb Meijer

Lena Meijer

Mark & Mary Beth Meijer

Rusty & Jenn Merchant

Howard & Lisa Miller

Jack H. Miller

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols

Mike & Rachel Mraz

Martha Muir

Laurie-Ann Netto

Jack Nichols

Juan & Mary Olivarez

Steve Olson

Richard Pappas

Richard Postma

Ryan Quillan

Sam & Francesca Rehnborg

Patrick Reid

Henry Rempe

Pat Ringnalda

Brenda & Tom Rinks

Jeffery Roberts

Eve Rogus & Paul Becker

Kari Luther Rosbeck

Doug Rottman

John & Therese Rowerdink

Fred & Kathy Rozema

Christine Salvati

H. Gideon Sanders

Michael & Cynthia Schaap

Megan Schmidt

Tim & Barbie Schowalter

Mr. Matthew A. Scogin

Peter & Joan Secchia

Tony & Dawn Semple

Thank you, Board of Governors.

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

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

50 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


COMMUNITY AMBASSADORS

George & Linda Sharpe

George & Missy Sharpe

Nicole Sharpe

Eric & Mary Shupe

Jason & Kasie Smith

John & Judy Spoelhof

Rob & Susan Stafford

Peter Stamos & Soonmee

Cha-Stamos

Frank & Dana Stanek

Tom Stavrou

Dr. James L. Strikwerda

Thomas & Mary Stuit

Theresa Sullivan

Duke Suwyn

Steve & Cheryl Timyan

Marilyn Titche

Brian Toronyi

Dr. Steve & Laura Triezenberg

David & Carol Van Andel

Steve & Amy Van Andel

Michael & Michelle Van Dyke

Dan & Ann Marie Van Eerden

Donna Van Haren

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet

Maria Van Til

Dr. George Vande Woude

Brian & Lori Vander Baan

Allen & Nancy VanderLaan

Sharon VanDellen

Don & Janell VanDine

Michael & Gayle VanGessel

James & Mary Veldheer

John & Vanessa Veleris

Peter & Denise Versluis

Chris & Dana Vinton

Phillip & Kathleen Vogelsang

Jen Weixeldorfer

Tom & Laurie Welch

Todd & Tracy Wenzel

Ben & Jennifer Wickstrom

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak

Scott & Rebecca Wierda

Julie Wiersema

Jim & Sue Williams

Greg & Meg Willit

Steve Wlodarski

Galit Wolf

Dr. Leslie Wong

John & Kathleen Workman

Todd Wriggelsworth &

Renee Tabben

Sean Wright

Jim & Jane Zwiers

Van Andel Institute JBoard Ambassadors

Co-chairs: Chad Bassett & Rachel Mraz

Dorothy Armstrong

Travis Arnoys

Keegan Balk

Robert & Kathryn Barcelona

Chad Bassett

Christopher Billmeier

Hannah Blackwell

Paige Cornetet

Blake Crabb

Jenna DeBest

Aaron & Afton DeVos

Samuel DeVries

Alex Ehlert-VanBeveren

Jennifer Fischer

Dana Friis-Hansen

Meghan Gartman

Zachary Gebben

Mary Hilger

Ken Hoffman & Lisa Rose

Mark Holzbach

Jordan Hoyer

Jason & Brandi Huyser

Eric Jones

Matt & Sarah Jones

Andrew Kapanowski

Margaret Kennedy

Kevin & Kathryn Kileen

Michael & Andrea Leestma

Casey Lowery

Mike & Rachel Mraz

Thomas Murray

Christopher & Alyssa Nance

Kendra Osowski

Gregory Paplawsky

Eric Payne

Stacy Peck

Leland & Alexandra Perez

Justin Pinto

Cody Pletcher

Lily Powers

Pablo & Jenna Prieto

Nicole Probst

Thomas & Kendra Ralston

Sara Ross

* THESE LISTS REPRESENT MEMBERSHIP BETWEEN JAN. 1, 2020, AND DEC. 31, 2020.

Charles & Tanya Rowerdink

Richard & Lisa Schrotenboer

Kelsey Schweibert

Jonathan & Allison Sleight

Joseph Spoelhof

Timothy Streit

Mark Stuit

Aaron & Hailey Van Andel

Chris Van Andel

Jesse & Heather Van Andel

Kyle Van Andel

Brian VanBeveren

Daniel VandenBosch

Sarah Vander Baan

Tripp & Katie VanderWal

Samuel & Sydney Vucelich

Brandon & Tina Wong

Cameron Young

Megan Zubrickas

Thank you, JBoard Ambassadors.

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

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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 51


In Memoriam

Dr. Viviane Labrie, an associate

professor at Van Andel Institute, passed

away in a tragic vehicle accident Aug. 21,

2020. She was an imaginative, creative

scientist. Her ability to look at the world

through different lenses allowed her to see

things in new ways, and ultimately revealed

groundbreaking insights with the potential

to change lives. Born in Ottawa, Ontario,

and raised in the small town of Deep River,

Ontario, Dr. Labrie quickly established

herself as a globally recognized leader in her field. Although early in her career, she

already had made pioneering discoveries that continue to transform the understanding

of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, including the revelation that the appendix may

be a starting point for Parkinson’s. Her findings led to exciting new avenues of discovery

for potential treatments for these diseases and shed light on the underpinnings of many

other conditions, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and lactose intolerance.

Innately curious, Dr. Labrie’s creativity and tenacity were immediately evident and

energizing to those around her. She rapidly advanced, earning an early promotion to

associate professor in 2019 — a tremendous achievement. Throughout her career, she

earned numerous scientific awards and honors, including highly competitive grants from

the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.

Peter Secchia, an ardent supporter

of Van Andel Institute and a member

of its Board of Governors, passed away

Oct. 21, 2020, at the age of 83. He often

was described as “larger than life” and

leaves a substantial hole in the collective

spirit of West Michigan and in the hearts

of family and friends worldwide. Along

with his wife, Joan, Secchia was a longtime

supporter of VAI from the early

years. Secchia was the recipient of many

notable awards throughout his life, including the Carol Van Andel Angel of Excellence

Award, which he and Joan each received in 2017. The award celebrates individuals

who have demonstrated significant contributions to VAI through volunteer service and

philanthropy. Elsewhere on the Medical Mile, when Michigan State University was seeking

to expand its medical school, Secchia worked to ensure its new campus was located in

Grand Rapids. Today, MSU’s College of Human Medicine is housed in the Secchia Center

on the city’s Medical Mile.

52 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020


In Memoriam

Dr. Luis Tomatis, a driving force in

bringing VAI to life, passed away Sept. 29,

2020. Originally from Argentina, Dr. Tomatis

was an energetic advocate for Grand

Rapids. He was influential in creating and

maintaining the environment that enabled

the Institute to thrive and the Medical Mile

to sprout up around us. Dr. Tomatis helped

recruit top-tier scientific talent to establish

VAI’s first Board of Scientific Advisors and

appoint Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Brown

as the board’s first chairman. After serving as VAI’s founding president from 1995–2001,

he went on to become the director of medical affairs for the Richard M. DeVos family.

A cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Tomatis was a former chief of cardiovascular surgery at

Spectrum Health and MSU professor of cardiac surgery. He won numerous awards,

volunteered for organizations like the American Heart Association and the Grand Rapids

Symphony, and was responsible for arranging for invaluable medical equipment to be

sent to his homeland of Argentina.

Dr. Gordon Van Wylen passed away

Nov. 5, 2020, at the age of 100. As one

of VAI’s original trustees, Dr. Van Wylen

was instrumental in establishing the

early programs of Van Andel Institute for

Education and laid the groundwork for

VAI’s success. We continue to see his vision

in action through the programs we are

developing and implementing today, some

25 years later. A man of immense scientific

knowledge, education, experience and

integrity, Dr. Van Wylen was an accomplished educator and administrator. He served as

dean of engineering at University of Michigan, as Hope College president for 15 years,

and as founding trustee and inaugural director of Van Andel Institute for Education.

Dr. Van Wylen generously devoted his time and talent to numerous other organizations

throughout his life. He was widely regarded as a thoughtful, visionary, kind and

respectful leader.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 53


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

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