2020 Annual Report

This is the 2020 Annual Report for Van Andel Institute.

This is the 2020 Annual Report for Van Andel Institute.


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<strong>2020</strong><br />


Through cutting-edge biomedical<br />

research, inspired scientific education and<br />

relentless commitment,<br />

Van Andel Institute is unleashing<br />

innovations that will improve health and<br />

enhance lives for generations to come.

Table of Contents<br />

Note: Some photos in this edition of the <strong>Annual</strong><br />

<strong>Report</strong> were taken prior to distancing guidelines<br />

related to the COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

2 A letter from David Van Andel<br />

4 Research<br />

6 Erin Dean: Turning uncertainty into action<br />

and hope<br />

7 Scientists taking on cancer<br />

8 Brent Brinks: A commitment to sparking<br />

life-changing innovation<br />

9 Making promising progress in Parkinson’s<br />

10 Research highlights<br />

11 Hubs for translating impact from lab to clinic<br />

12 VAI principal investigators<br />

20 Van Andel Institute Graduate School, in the<br />

words of its students<br />

22 Graduate School highlights<br />

24 Education<br />

26 From cohort to college: Analis Floyd<br />

27 VAI helps bring the classroom to everyone<br />

28 Education highlights<br />

30 Events and Philanthropy<br />

32 Event photos<br />

39 Signature special event sponsors<br />

40 Consumers Credit Union: A community<br />

partnership of action and hope<br />

42 Jim and Jane Zwiers: Embodying the spirit<br />

of philanthropy<br />

43 Uniting young, ambitious professionals<br />

in support of VAI’s mission<br />

44 Southside Hockey Fights Cancer brings hope<br />

to a difficult year<br />

45 Philanthropy highlights<br />

46 Circle of Hope and By the numbers<br />

47 Institute leadership team<br />

48 Board members<br />

50 Board of Governors<br />

51 JBoard Ambassadors<br />

52 In Memoriam<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 1

A letter from David Van Andel<br />

As we approach the celebration of Van Andel Institute’s<br />

25th anniversary in 2021, I’d like to take a moment to first<br />

reflect on <strong>2020</strong>, the final year leading up to this important<br />

milestone.<br />

<strong>2020</strong> brought with it countless challenges, but also many<br />

triumphs. It pushed our Institute and society as a whole<br />

to pivot and adapt. While there was certainly much to<br />

overcome as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was<br />

a surge of creativity and innovation as well.<br />

Of all our touchstones and accomplishments this year<br />

— and they are many, featured in prestigious scientific<br />

journals and media coverage — we are perhaps most<br />

proud of the overarching philosophy we have embraced<br />

since the early days of VAI’s existence: that collaboration<br />

is key to advancement. You’ll find evidence of this in the<br />

following pages, in stories and anecdotes that reflect our<br />

dedication to working together with one another and with<br />

organizations around the world to improve the health<br />

and enhance the lives of those here today as well as the<br />

generations to come.<br />

Our gratefulness knows no bounds, in large part<br />

because we are indebted to thousands of individuals<br />

and organizations in our hometown and beyond who<br />

have aligned with our mission to alter the very course<br />

of humanity and have continued to offer their support<br />

through a tumultuous year.<br />

This year forced changes to our collective reality, but the<br />

progress made by VAI scientists and educators exemplified<br />

our tenacity and commitment to sharing breakthroughs<br />

and triumphs with the world. We will never stop working to<br />

pursue scientific discoveries and stay on the cutting edge of<br />

K–12 and graduate education. To that end, we have brought<br />

together some of the brightest minds known to humankind,<br />

men and women whose verve and passion know no bounds<br />

in the quest to assuage a world in constant flux.<br />

Your ardent support and your belief in what we do on the<br />

Medical Mile empowers us to continue working urgently<br />

to end diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s<br />

and to advance curiosity, creativity and critical thinking in<br />

classrooms worldwide.<br />

We hope the stories and images on the pages that follow<br />

help to reflect the dynamic culture we’ve worked so hard to<br />

develop and grow. We will work just as diligently during the<br />

next quarter-century on behalf of so many in need.<br />

As we celebrate our progress and set our compass for<br />

distant horizons of groundbreaking discoveries, I thank<br />

you — and the Institute thanks you — for your unwavering<br />

support.<br />

Gratefully,<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO<br />

2 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 3











Erin Dean: Turning uncertainty into action and hope<br />

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer<br />

among women in the United States, but how that<br />

diagnosis affects each person varies greatly. When<br />

Erin Dean was diagnosed in October 2017, she set down<br />

a path that she never imagined.<br />

“As a wife and mother to three wonderful and active<br />

kids,” Erin said, “how do you fit a cancer diagnosis into<br />

your schedule?”<br />

Even before her diagnosis, Erin long supported Van Andel<br />

Institute’s Couture for a Cure and the Duncan Lake Middle<br />

School Cancer Walk, which directly benefit biomedical<br />

research at VAI. Being involved took on a new meaning<br />

after her diagnosis.<br />

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

team that year,” Erin said. “But then I received my<br />

diagnosis just a few days before race day, and I needed<br />

to step back to understand what this meant for my life.”<br />

Erin underwent a variety of treatments and will have<br />

ongoing hormone therapy for another seven years. But<br />

while <strong>2020</strong> was a trying year for the world, it was also her<br />

first year without a major medical issue.<br />

She is now training for the Bank of America Chicago<br />

Marathon on behalf of VAI and was previously honored<br />

during the ceremonial puck drop at the 2019 Grand<br />

Rapids Griffins Purple Community Game. Her daughter,<br />

Emily Dean, joined VAI’s Student Ambassador Program as<br />

her own way to give back to the Institute.<br />

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

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

without side effects — some of which are long-lasting.<br />

Thinking about advancements that one day might make<br />

going through cancer a little less horrible? It really gives<br />

us hope.”<br />

Scientists taking<br />

on cancer<br />

Scientists recognized for collaborative<br />

efforts in cancer research<br />

The American Association for Cancer Research<br />

awarded <strong>2020</strong> AACR Team Science Awards to VAI<br />

Professor Dr. Peter W. Laird, Director’s Scholar<br />

Dr. Stephen B. Baylin and Associate Professor<br />

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

establishment and success of The Cancer Genome<br />

Atlas (TCGA), a landmark National Institutes<br />

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

understanding of cancer and is hailed as an<br />

exemplar of scientific collaboration. The awards<br />

recognize more than 100 individuals who were<br />

central to TCGA from its inception through today.<br />

Baylin holds a primary appointment at Sidney<br />

Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns<br />

Hopkins University.<br />




6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


Newly discovered potential biomarker<br />

could ‘flag’ tumors sensitive to metabolic<br />

therapy<br />

A recently identified potential biomarker could help<br />

scientists pinpoint which cancers are vulnerable<br />

to treatment with biguanides, a common class of<br />

medications used to control blood sugar in Type 2<br />

diabetes. Biguanides have long been of interest to<br />

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

cellular metabolism, which fuels the growth and<br />

spread of malignant cells. The discovery, published<br />

by Dr. Russell Jones and collaborators, may give<br />

scientists a way to objectively determine which<br />

types of cancer are sensitive to biguanide treatment<br />

and illuminates how and why some patients may<br />

respond better to biguanides than other patients. 1<br />

1<br />

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

Institutes of Health Research under grants MOP-142259 (Jones) and MOP-<br />

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

(Hirst); and funding from ImmunoMet Therapeutics. The Goodman Cancer<br />

Research Center Metabolomics Core Facility is supported by grants from the<br />

Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research<br />

and Terry Fox Research Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the<br />

authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the granting<br />

organizations.<br />

Seeking a new test to diagnose<br />

pancreatic cancer<br />

Pancreatic cancer is a difficult foe and a master of<br />

evasion. By the time it is diagnosed, it frequently is<br />

far advanced, which limits options and complicates<br />

treatment. Adding to the challenge, some pancreatic<br />

cancers don’t respond to existing medications. The<br />

result often is an agonizing decision: pursue treatment<br />

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

VAI Professor Dr. Brian Haab wants to change this<br />

reality. He and his colleagues are developing a simple,<br />

experimental blood test that distinguishes pancreatic<br />

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

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

therapeutic decisions and spare patients with resistant<br />

cancers from undergoing unnecessary treatments with<br />

challenging side effects.<br />

“Knowing which type of pancreatic cancer a person<br />

has is critical to choosing the right treatment strategy<br />

for each patient,” Haab said. “We hope that our new<br />

test, which detects a marker produced by cancer cells<br />

of one subtype and not the other, will one day be a<br />

powerful tool to help physicians and patients make the<br />

best decisions possible.”<br />

The experimental test is slated to undergo additional<br />

clinical validation. 2<br />

2<br />

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute;<br />

the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award<br />

no. U01CA152653 (Haab and Brand) and award no. U01CA226158 (Haab); the<br />

Lustgarten Foundation (Tuveson); and the German Research Foundation (Plenker).<br />

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily<br />

represent the official views of the granting organizations.<br />

Collaborating in a national initiative<br />

against cancer<br />

Biospecimens are the bedrock of scientific research —<br />

without them, we wouldn’t be able to study cancer or<br />

develop new treatments and diagnostics.<br />

Last summer, VAI’s Biorepository was awarded a<br />

$2.7 million, two-year subcontract from the Frederick<br />

National Laboratory for Cancer Research currently<br />

operated by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., on<br />

behalf of the National Cancer Institute to serve as the<br />

biorepository for the Cancer Moonshot Biobank study,<br />

a national initiative to transform cancer treatment and<br />

prevention through accelerated research.<br />

“We are honored to be part of the Cancer Moonshot<br />

Biobank study and look forward to doing our part to<br />

support research and improve cancer care,” said<br />

Dr. Scott Jewell, director of VAI’s Core Technologies and<br />

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

The Cancer Moonshot was launched in 2016 by the<br />

Obama Administration. Its strategic aims, determined<br />

by a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts, are designed to<br />

answer critical scientific and medical questions while<br />

ensuring the samples collected represent the diversity<br />

of the U.S. population. 3<br />

3<br />

The project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the<br />

National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under contract no.<br />

HHSN261201500003I, Task Order HHSN26100042 through Leidos Biomedical<br />

Research, Inc. under subcontract no. 20X062Q. The content of this publication<br />

does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health<br />

and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or<br />

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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 7

Brent Brinks: A commitment to sparking<br />

life-changing innovation<br />

Brent Brinks and the company he leads, Buist<br />

Electric, helped build VAI from the ground up —<br />

literally. In 2009, Buist Electric’s work was critical in<br />

completing the second phase of the Institute’s building.<br />

Since then, the Brinks family and Buist Electric have<br />

passionately supported VAI both through individual<br />

giving and sponsorship of Winterfest, VAI’s annual<br />

fundraiser for Parkinson’s research, and Hope on the Hill,<br />

VAI’s annual gala.<br />

“As a people-focused company, it’s very important to us<br />

to give back to our community,” Brent said. “With VAI,<br />

that means supporting the groundbreaking research<br />

that’s done right here in Grand Rapids.”<br />

Their support took on new meaning four years ago, when<br />

Brent’s mother, Sallie, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s<br />

disease. Brent is hopeful that the research underway<br />

in the Institute’s labs will lead to life-changing ways to<br />

slow or stop disease progression — something current<br />

treatments cannot do.<br />

“Without research, progress isn’t going to happen. That’s<br />

why supporting science is so critical,” Brent said. “We<br />

support VAI’s pursuit of breakthroughs for my mom and<br />

for everyone with Parkinson’s.”<br />


8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

Making promising progress<br />

in Parkinson’s<br />


Scientists have a gut feeling about<br />

Parkinson’s<br />

The gut and the brain may seem wildly different.<br />

But an in-depth look reveals that their relationship<br />

is much closer than meets the eye — in fact, they<br />

share so many connections that the gut is widely<br />

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

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

pointing to the gut for insights into Parkinson’s. For<br />

example, in <strong>2020</strong>, VAI scientists and their colleagues<br />

found that abnormal shifts in the vast population of<br />

helpful microbes in the gut may tilt the production of<br />

bile acids toward more toxic forms.<br />

Importantly, these shifts were seen only in people<br />

with Parkinson’s and not in people without the<br />

disease, a key difference that suggests these acids<br />

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

early and track its progression. The insights may<br />

even lead to new opportunities for developing<br />

treatments that impede Parkinson’s-related changes<br />

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

disease onset and progression.<br />

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

VAI and collaborators at Beaumont Health, Michigan<br />

State University College of Human Medicine and<br />

Oregon Health & Science University. 4<br />

4<br />

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute and the<br />

Farmer Family Foundation (P. Brundin, with L. Brundin, Pospisilik and Labrie as<br />

co-investigators).<br />

Labrie also held awards from the Department of Defense, National Institute of<br />

Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health and Michigan<br />

State University through the Gibby & Friends vs. Parky Parkinson’s Disease Research<br />

Award. Graham holds awards from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders<br />

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

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

Foundation.<br />

Connecting the dots between Parkinson’s<br />

and age<br />

Aging is one of the biggest risk factors in Parkinson’s.<br />

This connection has been known for a long time,<br />

yet the answer to one seemingly small but complex<br />

question remains unclear: why?<br />

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

Minnesota Medical School are collaborating to root<br />

out clues, with the goal of one day developing new<br />

ways to promote healthy aging.<br />

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

and University of Minnesota’s Dr. Michael Lee and<br />

Dr. Laura Niedernhofer seek to uncover the precise<br />

reasons why age increases the risk for developing<br />

Parkinson’s.<br />

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

three-year grant from the Aligning Science Across<br />

Parkinson’s initiative, an international collaborative<br />

research effort partnering with The Michael J. Fox<br />

Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to implement<br />

its funding.<br />

Teaming up against Parkinson’s<br />

In <strong>2020</strong>, VAI and Cure Parkinson’s (formerly The<br />

Cure Parkinson’s Trust) welcomed a new partner<br />

to our collaborative endeavor to find life-changing<br />

treatments for Parkinson’s — the John Black<br />

Charitable Trust. The strategic partnership is now<br />

worth $6.75 million.<br />

Together, we are thrilled to collaborate on the<br />

International Linked Clinical Trials initiative, which<br />

supports clinical trials that repurpose medications<br />

developed to treat other diseases and that have shown<br />

potential to slow or stop Parkinson’s progression.<br />

VAI welcomes Parkinson’s expert<br />

to its team<br />

In the summer of <strong>2020</strong>, VAI welcomed Dr. Michael<br />

Henderson to its growing team of scientists.<br />

An expert in Parkinson’s disease and dementia<br />

with Lewy bodies, Henderson investigates the<br />

role of abnormal proteins in disease onset and<br />

progression, with the goal of developing new,<br />

life-changing therapies. He has made landmark<br />

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

and neurodegeneration, such as showing that alphasynuclein<br />

proteins take advantage of the brain’s<br />

own structure to spread and that an enzyme called<br />

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

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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 9

Research highlights<br />

VAI plans an ambitious path forward<br />

In the fall of <strong>2020</strong>, Van Andel Institute finished outlining its new strategic vision for<br />

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

of VAI’s research and builds on the strong foundations and success of the past — all<br />

made possible in part thanks to our donors and their steadfast dedication to our<br />

mission.<br />

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

neurodegenerative science, cell biology, structural biology and metabolism. It also<br />

renews our commitment to cancer and Parkinson’s through the establishment of<br />

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

Center — which serve as hubs for translating groundbreaking discoveries into clinical<br />

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

scientists to VAI in order to grow our scientific capacity and broaden our impact.<br />

Understanding how brain cells maintain balance to keep us healthy<br />

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

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

a high-tech microscope, and you have cryo-EM — a groundbreaking technology<br />

that helps scientists study the smallest components of life in exquisite detail. Using<br />

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

in collaboration with Dr. Zhaozhu Qiu of Johns Hopkins University, captured highresolution<br />

images that help explain how cells sense and respond to their environment.<br />

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

and out while also helping maintain pH balance within brain cells — a critical function<br />

that keeps cells alive and helps prevent stroke and other brain injuries. 5<br />

5<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

official views of the granting organizations.<br />

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

The immune system’s ability to marshal specialized cells to fight off infection relies in<br />

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

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

collaborators. The findings reveal new insights into the nuts and bolts of immune<br />

function and add to a growing body of knowledge that could one day be leveraged to<br />

optimize vaccines or immunotherapies for a number of diseases. 6<br />

6<br />

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

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

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

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

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

for new therapies<br />

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

machine” responsible for installing critical signaling proteins into cellular membranes.<br />

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

foundation for potential future therapies for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and cystic<br />

fibrosis. 7<br />

7<br />

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

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

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

A search for the genetic roots of Alzheimer’s disease<br />

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

Institute scientists believe they can strengthen our understanding of the disease’s<br />

genetic precursors and find avenues for potential new therapies by hunting for clues in<br />

one particular group with a unique genetic makeup: the Portuguese population. In the<br />

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

and rare genetic risk variants associated by mapping and analyzing the genome of a<br />

Portuguese sample population. This data will be combined with publicly available data<br />

from non-Portuguese populations to increase the diversity and statistical power of<br />

ongoing international studies. 8<br />

8<br />

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

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

official views of the National Institutes of Health.<br />

10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

“Impacting human health through<br />

groundbreaking research is at the heart<br />

of VAI’s mission. Research 4.0 sets the<br />

stage for the Institute’s future and is an<br />

important reminder of how far we’ve come,<br />

particularly as we gear up to celebrate VAI’s<br />

25th anniversary. There are great things<br />

on the horizon and, together, we<br />

can make the world a<br />

better place.”<br />

Peter A. Jones,<br />

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

VAI Chief Scientific Officer<br />


Hubs for translating impact<br />

from lab to clinic<br />

How do research breakthroughs in the lab become tangible treatments for those facing<br />

diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s? Through clinical trials, like those supported by<br />

Van Andel Institute’s Focal Centers.<br />

Established in <strong>2020</strong>, the VAI Cancer Center and VAI Parkinson’s Disease Center provide<br />

support and infrastructure for VAI scientists seeking to develop and implement<br />

translational cancer and Parkinson’s projects in Grand Rapids, West Michigan and beyond.<br />

In the coming years, we expect the number of projects supported by the Centers to grow,<br />

multiplying the Institute’s impact in cancer and Parkinson’s.<br />

Dietary interventions may slow onset of inflammatory and<br />

autoimmune disorders<br />

Significantly reducing dietary levels of a specific amino acid, known as methionine,<br />

could slow the onset and progression of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders<br />

such as multiple sclerosis in high-risk individuals, according to a study published in<br />

Cell Metabolism by Dr. Russell Jones and his team.<br />

Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks<br />

and destroys healthy tissue. For example, in multiple sclerosis, the immune<br />

system targets the protective covering of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.<br />

The subsequent damage obstructs messages traveling to and from the brain,<br />

resulting in progressively worsening symptoms like numbness, muscle weakness,<br />

coordination and balance problems, and cognitive decline. There currently are<br />

no treatments that significantly slow or stop multiple sclerosis without greatly<br />

increasing the risk of infection or cancer. These findings provide further basis for<br />

dietary interventions as future treatments for such disorders.<br />

Cancer Center<br />

The Cancer Center supports projects<br />

and clinical trials for several different<br />

types of cancer in partnership with<br />

organizations in the U.S. and abroad.<br />

Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer<br />

Epigenetics Dream Team<br />

Finding the cancer therapies of tomorrow<br />

requires visionary thinking and innovative<br />

research today. The VAI–SU2C Epigenetics<br />

Dream Team fosters collaboration between<br />

several of the world’s most respected<br />

research and clinical organizations in an<br />

effort to quickly move promising potential<br />

therapies into clinical trials.<br />

Research by the numbers<br />

13 Trials launched<br />

1 Trial in development<br />

500+ Patients<br />

Parkinson’s Disease Center<br />

The Parkinson’s Disease Center<br />

supports projects and clinical trials that<br />

investigate potential therapies to slow or<br />

stop Parkinson’s progression — a feat not<br />

possible with existing treatments.<br />

International Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT)<br />

Since 2012, VAI has partnered with Cure<br />

Parkinson’s to support clinical trials of<br />

medications developed to treat other<br />

diseases that also show potential for<br />

impeding Parkinson’s progression.<br />

Research by the numbers<br />

15 Trials launched<br />

10 Trials in development<br />

850+ Patients<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 11

Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

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

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


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

Chief Scientific Officer; Director, Cancer Center<br />

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

a growing field that explores how genes are regulated and<br />

provides new avenues for developing therapies for cancer and<br />

other diseases. His discoveries have helped usher in an entirely<br />

new class of drugs that have been approved to treat blood<br />

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

American Association for Cancer Research, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, a Fellow of<br />

the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National<br />

Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.<br />

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

Deputy Chief Scientific Officer; Director, Parkinson’s<br />

Disease Center<br />

Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., investigates molecular mechanisms<br />

in Parkinson’s disease, and his goals are to develop new<br />

therapies aimed at slowing or stopping disease progression or<br />

repairing damage. He is one of the top-cited researchers in the<br />

field of neurodegenerative disease and leads international efforts to repurpose drugs to<br />

treat Parkinson’s.<br />

Scott Jewell, Ph.D.<br />

Director, Core Technologies and Services; Director,<br />

Pathology and Biorepository Core; Professor, Department<br />

of Cell Biology<br />

Scott Jewell, Ph.D., leads VAI’s Core Technologies and Services,<br />

which provides technology and specialized expertise for<br />

research investigators. Services include bioinformatics and<br />

biostatistics, cryo-EM, optical imaging, flow cytometry, genomics, pathology and<br />

biorepository, vivarium management and transgenics. Jewell is a past president of the<br />

International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER).<br />

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

President and Dean, Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., is the dean of Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School. His lab, which closed in 2018 after 31 years of<br />

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

systems of viruses to understand how infections progress and<br />

to reveal new ways to stop them. His discoveries with herpes<br />

simplex viruses opened up new possibilities for antiviral drug development and revealed<br />

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


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

Chair and Professor<br />

J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D., seeks to understand how we become<br />

whom we become, and how our disease susceptibility is defined<br />

from early on in life, even before conception, with the long-term<br />

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

12 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


Stephen B. Baylin, M.D.<br />

Director’s Scholar; Professor<br />

Stephen Baylin, M.D., studies the body’s genetic control systems<br />

— called epigenetics — searching for vulnerabilities in cancer.<br />

Baylin is a pioneer in this field and was among the first to trace<br />

epigenetic causes of cancer. His studies have led to new therapies<br />

for breast, lung and colorectal cancers, among others. He is<br />

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

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

Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University.<br />

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

Professor<br />

Peter W. Laird, Ph.D., seeks a detailed understanding of the<br />

molecular foundations of cancer, with a particular focus on<br />

identifying crucial epigenetic alterations that convert otherwise<br />

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

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

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

Laird also is a principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute’s Genome Data<br />

Analysis Network and played a leadership role in The Cancer Genome Atlas, a multiinstitutional<br />

effort to molecularly map cancers.<br />

Department of Epigenetics<br />

The Department of Epigenetics seeks to understand the<br />

plasticity of our genomes and how our genetic output can<br />

be stably modified to protect us from or predispose us to<br />

complex diseases such as cancer, infection, obesity and<br />

Parkinson’s. Faculty investigate the molecular processes<br />

that fine-tune how DNA is packaged and how this packaging<br />

is stabilized to form disease programs. In this way, they will<br />

mine the origins of these complex diseases, mapping them to<br />

genetic and environmental inputs now, in our early lives, and<br />

even before birth.<br />

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D., studies how the body switches genes on and<br />

off, a biological process called methylation that, when faulty,<br />

can lead to cancer or other diseases. His studies range from the<br />

effect of tobacco smoke on genetic and epigenetic systems to<br />

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

from neurodegeneration. Pfeifer’s studies have implications across a range of diseases,<br />

including cancer, Parkinson’s, diabetes and many others.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 13

Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D., studies the ways in which cells pack and<br />

unpack DNA. This elegant process twists and coils roughly<br />

2 meters of unwound DNA into a space less than one-tenth the<br />

width of a human hair. Although this process is impressive, it is<br />

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

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

Hui Shen, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Hui Shen, Ph.D., develops new approaches to cancer prevention,<br />

detection and treatment by studying the interaction between<br />

genes and their control systems, called epigenetics. Her research<br />

focuses on women’s cancers, particularly ovarian cancer, and also<br />

has shed new light on the underlying mechanisms of other many<br />

cancer types, including breast, kidney and prostate cancers.<br />

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D., investigates the mechanisms that regulate<br />

DNA and gene expression in an effort to better understand how<br />

they impact cancer development. His research has led to the<br />

discovery of several new “readers” of epigenetic marks that may<br />

serve as targets for cancer treatment.<br />

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D., studies the flow of epigenetic information<br />

from parents to their offspring, with a focus on how epigenetic<br />

markers are remodeled during egg and sperm production,<br />

and how these markers are rewritten after fertilization. These<br />

processes have profound implications on fertility and embryo<br />

development. Disturbances in epigenetic remodeling are thought to contribute to<br />

disease conditions lasting well into adulthood.<br />

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

Assistant Professor<br />

As a statistician and computational biologist with an interest<br />

in clonal evolution and cancers of the blood, the work of<br />

Tim Triche, Jr., Ph.D. focuses on wedding data-intensive<br />

molecular phenotyping to adaptive clinical trial designs, in<br />

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

development in rare or refractory diseases.<br />

Hong Wen, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Hong Wen, Ph.D., investigates the molecular underpinnings of<br />

pediatric cancers, with a focus on how epigenetic dysregulation<br />

impacts genes expression and drives malignancy. Her work holds<br />

great promise for developing new, improved therapies for these<br />

devastating diseases.<br />


Darren Moore, Ph.D.<br />

Chair and Professor<br />

Darren Moore, Ph.D., seeks new diagnostic and treatment<br />

approaches for Parkinson’s by investigating the inherited form<br />

of the disease, which comprises 5% to 10% of cases. He aims<br />

to translate the understanding of these genetic mutations into<br />

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

inherited and non-inherited. Discoveries from Moore’s lab routinely elucidate the faulty<br />

molecular interactions that transform healthy, functioning neurons into diseased ones.<br />

14 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


José Brás, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

José Brás, Ph.D., investigates how variations in our genes impact<br />

the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such<br />

as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia with Lewy bodies.<br />

Using cutting-edge technologies and bioinformatic approaches,<br />

he has identified new genetic mutations that impact disease risk.<br />

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

Professor<br />

As a psychiatrist and a scientist, Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.,<br />

seeks ways to diagnose and treat depression and suicidality<br />

by studying inflammation of the nervous system. Her findings<br />

may lead to earlier interventions for depressive patients and<br />

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

the immune system. She also investigates how inflammatory mechanisms can damage<br />

nerve cells in Parkinson’s disease.<br />

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

Assistant Professor<br />

Hong-yuan Chu, Ph.D., investigates how and why dopamineproducing<br />

cells die off in Parkinson’s, a process that underlies<br />

many of the disease’s hallmark symptoms. He plans to leverage<br />

this new knowledge to develop new, more precise ways to slow<br />

or stop disease progression.<br />

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D., searches the human genome for<br />

minuscule changes that contribute to the onset, progression<br />

and drug resistance of many diseases, including cancer and<br />

Parkinson’s. His team deploys genome sequencing technologies<br />

and high-powered computational arrays to tease out patterns<br />

and interactions of markers and treatment targets from among the human genome’s<br />

more than three billion DNA base pairs.<br />

Department of<br />

Neurodegenerative Science<br />

The Department of Neurodegenerative Science focuses on<br />

elucidating disease mechanisms and identifying novel diseasemodifying<br />

therapeutic approaches for major neurodegenerative<br />

diseases, with a special focus on Parkinson’s disease.<br />

Additional areas of interest include dementias (Alzheimer’s<br />

disease, dementia with Lewy bodies) and psychiatric disorders<br />

(depression, anxiety). Department faculty have research<br />

interests and expertise in the molecular underpinnings of<br />

neurodegenerative disease through an understanding of genetic<br />

risk, epigenetics, cell biology, biomarkers, neuropathology,<br />

neuroinflammation, neural circuits and patient-derived<br />

biospecimens. Their mission is to leverage new knowledge for the<br />

development of treatments for Parkinson’s and related disorders.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 15

Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D., parses the genetic variations that<br />

contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s,<br />

Alzheimer’s, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal<br />

dementia. Her research has led to new insights into the genetic<br />

contributors to these diseases, which currently have no cure<br />

and no treatments that slow progression.<br />


Michael Henderson, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Michael Henderson, Ph.D., investigates the causes of<br />

neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and dementia with<br />

Lewy bodies, and the factors that control disease progression.<br />

He hopes to translate his findings into new therapies that slow<br />

or stop this progression.<br />

Bart Williams, Ph.D.<br />

Chair and Professor<br />

Bart Williams, Ph.D., studies the building blocks of bone<br />

growth on behalf of the millions suffering from diseases such<br />

as osteoporosis. He seeks new ways of altering cell signaling<br />

pathways to encourage healthy bone development and deter<br />

cancer spread to the skeleton.<br />

Brian Haab, Ph.D.<br />

Professor; Associate Dean, Van Andel Institute Graduate<br />

School<br />

Brian Haab, Ph.D., searches for new ways to diagnose and<br />

stratify pancreatic cancers based on the chemical fingerprints<br />

tumors leave behind. Part of the problem Haab aims to solve<br />

is that cancers often look and behave normally — until after<br />

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

diagnostic tools that will help providers diagnose tumors earlier and optimize treatment.<br />

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

Professor, VAI; Director, DeVos Cardiovascular Research<br />

Program (a joint effort between VAI and Spectrum Health);<br />

Medical Director of Research, Frederik Meijer Heart and<br />

Vascular Institute, Spectrum Health<br />

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

itself and has led dozens of clinical trials in regenerative medicine.<br />

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

effort to give patients with serious heart conditions longer, healthier lives. The clinical<br />

platform for his research is the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at Spectrum Health<br />

Hospitals Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, and the basic science effort in regenerative<br />

medicine is performed at VAI.<br />

Matt Steensma, M.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Matt Steensma, M.D., studies the genetic and molecular factors<br />

that cause benign tumors to become cancers, in search of<br />

vulnerabilities that may be targeted for treatment. As a scientist<br />

at VAI and practicing surgeon at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos<br />

Children’s Hospital, he is committed to translating scientific<br />

discoveries into treatments that improve patients’ lives.<br />

Tao Yang, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Tao Yang, Ph.D., studies the signaling systems that govern skeletal<br />

stem cells and the role they play in diseases such as osteoarthritis<br />

and osteoporosis. Bones are the largest producer of adult stem<br />

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

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

systems in search of new treatments for degenerative bone disorders and other<br />

skeletal aging.<br />

16 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


Emeritus Faculty (In Memoriam)<br />

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

On April 13, 2021, the world lost<br />

Dr. George Vande Woude, Van Andel Institute’s<br />

founding research director and a worldrenowned<br />

scientist whose storied career<br />

revolutionized our understanding of cancer.<br />

His vast scientific contributions, exceptional<br />

vision and commitment to building world-class<br />

research programs will galvanize discovery and<br />

Department of Cell Biology<br />

The Department of Cell Biology pursues fundamental discoveries<br />

about how changes in cell growth, survival and function underlie<br />

human diseases and identifies new strategies that could contribute<br />

to improved quality of life. A central theme in all department work is<br />

exploring how tissue-specific stem cells are regulated to maintain<br />

physiological homeostasis in tissues and how inappropriate growth of<br />

cells with these characteristics causes tumorigenesis.<br />

scientific excellence for years to come.<br />

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

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

to determine the structure and enhancer function of long terminal repeats, specific sequences<br />

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

transform normal genes to cancer-promoting genes, or oncogenes. These foundational<br />

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

papers — will continue to shape cancer research and treatment now and into the future.<br />

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

elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993, and the American Association for Cancer<br />

Research Academy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013.<br />

The proper regulation of cellular division, differentiation and survival<br />

is required for all development in multi-cellular organisms, and the<br />

dysregulation of these processes causes all human disease. The<br />

Department of Cell Biology focuses on discovering the mechanisms<br />

that underlie these processes, with a goal of understanding both<br />

how they normally occur and how alterations in these processes<br />

cause human disease. To this end, laboratories in the department<br />

investigate the molecular mechanisms that control cellular processes<br />

such as proliferation, apoptosis (programmed cell death), senescence<br />

(cellular aging), signal transduction (how cells respond to signals from<br />

their environment), and differentiation (how cells<br />

change characteristics).<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 17

Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />


Huilin Li, Ph.D.<br />

Chair and Professor; Director, Cryo-EM Core<br />

Huilin Li, Ph.D., uses cryo-electron microscopy to reveal the most<br />

basic building blocks of DNA replication and other systems vital for<br />

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

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

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

mental illness, and many more.<br />

Juan Du, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Juan Du, Ph.D., seeks to understand the brain’s intricate<br />

communication systems using state-of-the-art structural biology<br />

approaches, such as cryo-EM. Her work has revealed new insights<br />

into critical processes such as temperature regulation in the human<br />

body, which has implications for development of new medications<br />

for neurological disorders.<br />

Wei Lü, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Wei Lü, Ph.D., is working to unravel how brain cells communicate<br />

with each other. Using techniques such as cryo-EM, his work<br />

has contributed to the field’s understanding of molecules that<br />

play crucial roles in the development and function of the<br />

nervous system.<br />

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Karsten Melcher, Ph.D., studies molecular structure and cellular<br />

communication, which have implications for finding new treatments<br />

for serious health threats including cancer, diabetes and obesity.<br />

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

hormones may one day lead to heartier crops that resist drought<br />

and help meet the nutritional demands of a growing global population.<br />

Department of<br />

Structural Biology<br />

The Department of Structural Biology aims to understand<br />

biology and human diseases at their most basic level.<br />

Scientists in the department use a series of advanced<br />

biophysical and biochemical techniques, such as<br />

cryo-electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, mass<br />

spectrometry and patch-clamp electrophysiology, to<br />

determine the atomic structures of proteins and proteinnucleic<br />

acid complexes and investigate their biological<br />

functions both in vitro with purified samples and in cells.<br />

The determination of these structures illuminates the<br />

underpinnings of normal cellular function as well as<br />

disease-related dysfunction. They also reveal the action<br />

mechanisms of many existing drugs and may guide the<br />

development of novel therapeutics.<br />

18 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>



Russell Jones, Ph.D.<br />

Chair and Professor<br />

Russell Jones, Ph.D., investigates metabolism at the cellular level<br />

to understand how it affects cell behavior and health, with a<br />

specific eye on cancer and the immune system. By revealing how<br />

cancer cells use metabolic processes to fuel their growth and<br />

spread, he hopes to develop new treatments that help patients<br />

by changing the standard of care for cancer.<br />

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D., investigates the links between<br />

metabolism, epigenetics and the immune system, with the goal<br />

of understanding how they work together to keep us healthy and,<br />

when things go wrong, to promote disease.<br />

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D., is investigating how the dietary choices<br />

of parents may impact the health of their offspring in the hopes<br />

of translating her findings into new ways to prevent disease and<br />

create a healthier future.<br />

Ning Wu, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Ning Wu, Ph.D., investigates the interface between cellular<br />

metabolism and cellular signaling, particularly as they relate to<br />

cancer. On the most basic level, cancer is fundamentally a disease<br />

of uncontrolled cell growth, and Wu believes that understanding<br />

a tumor’s voracious energy requirements and altered signaling<br />

pathways will lead to new treatments that optimize existing combination therapies and<br />

identify novel therapeutic targets.<br />

Department of Metabolism and<br />

Nutritional Programming<br />

For the human body to function properly, it must have the right amount of<br />

energy and resources in the right place at the right time. The Department<br />

of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming focuses on understanding the<br />

intricate mechanics of cellular metabolism and their implications for human<br />

health. Its major focus is understanding how environmental exposures and<br />

metabolic dysfunction contribute to complex diseases such as diabetes,<br />

autoimmunity, cancer and neurodegeneration. Research in the department<br />

centers on metabolism and its intersection with cancer biology, immune<br />

function (immunometabolism), metabolic physiology (diabetes and obesity),<br />

and intergenerational inheritance of nutritional states. By leveraging<br />

novel model systems (cellular, animal models and patient samples) and<br />

approaches in molecular physiology, metabolomics, immunology and<br />

epigenetics, department faculty are able to advance numerous fields,<br />

unlocking new understanding of how metabolism fuels fundamental cellular<br />

processes such as cell growth, survival and differentiation in various health<br />

and disease contexts. The department’s mission is to rigorously study<br />

metabolism and how it is impacted by nutrition, genetics and epigenetics, in<br />

order to develop metabolism-based therapeutics and interventions with the<br />

ultimate goal of improving human health.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 19

Van Andel Institute Graduate School,<br />

in the words of its students<br />

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<br />

VAI’s world-class scientists.<br />

“I liked the idea of small class sizes and<br />

the problem-based learning approach,<br />

because I knew I would be challenged to<br />

a greater extent than at other institutions.<br />

Furthermore, I was intrigued by the exciting<br />

and high-quality research taking place at<br />

the Institute.”<br />

— Shelby Compton, Ph.D. candidate in the<br />

lab of Dr. Russell Jones<br />

“Van Andel Institute was the first community<br />

to give me the opportunity to get research<br />

experience as an intern, and I feel a certain<br />

level of loyalty for that. More importantly,<br />

after working at the Institute for several<br />

years, I witnessed firsthand the quality of<br />

research being conducted here and the<br />

respect VAI shows all its scientists.”<br />

— Jordan Prahl, Ph.D. candidate in the<br />

lab of Dr. Gerry Coetzee<br />

“Having smaller-sized classes helps foster<br />

a community within the graduate program<br />

and ensures that no one is really a stranger<br />

here. The problem-based learning was<br />

another draw, as this approach felt very<br />

similar to my projects at the NIH [National<br />

Institutes of Health] and felt like a more<br />

natural progression of knowledge and<br />

understanding of the material.”<br />

— Lauren McGee, Ph.D. candidate in the<br />

lab of Dr. Matt Steensma<br />

20 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


“Medical school provides a solid foundation<br />

for the basic sciences, but it doesn’t train<br />

you how to ‘think like a scientist’ or how to<br />

conduct biomedical research. In graduate<br />

school, I’ve developed a complementary<br />

set of skills in order to apply my previous<br />

medical knowledge. Ultimately, I feel as<br />

though dual training is synergistic, in that<br />

my development as a physician and as a<br />

researcher is enhanced by both training<br />

paradigms.”<br />

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

lab of Dr. Darren Moore<br />

“After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I never<br />

wanted to sit in a large lecture hall-style<br />

class again. The student-led discussions<br />

and practical learning applications at the<br />

Graduate School are an excellent way to<br />

learn in a way that is particularly relevant to<br />

Ph.D. careers. I am constantly impressed by<br />

the amount of resources and support we<br />

receive. I knew it was good when I accepted<br />

admission, but the more I compare with my<br />

peers at other schools, the more I realize<br />

what a uniquely supportive environment we<br />

have at the Institute.”<br />

— Emery Haley, Ph.D. candidate in the<br />

lab of Dr. Juan Du<br />

“The small class size and faculty-to-student<br />

ratio was one of the main selling points for<br />

me — I knew that I would not fall through<br />

the cracks. This was also apparent from<br />

interacting with current students; they had<br />

a strong sense of camaraderie as a student<br />

body and were very satisfied with their<br />

graduate school experience. I was also very<br />

attracted by the annual travel funds that<br />

would allow me to network and present my<br />

project even during my first year of<br />

graduate school.”<br />

— Menusha Arumugam, Ph.D candidate in the<br />

lab of Dr. Matt Steensma<br />

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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 21

Graduate School highlights<br />

Graduate student statistics<br />


Graduate School student earns prestigious award<br />

In September <strong>2020</strong>, Graduate School alumna Dr. Maggie Chassé earned a prestigious early career award<br />

from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. This marks the second consecutive<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9<br />

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<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

cohorts of students from around the country and world.<br />


Applicant Pool<br />

Academic Year 2018 2019 <strong>2020</strong><br />

Applicants 59 68 82<br />

Admits 12 20 25<br />

Admit Rate 20% 29% 30%<br />

22 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


Fall <strong>2020</strong> Cohort<br />

6 Domestic 1 International<br />

Primarily research<br />

By Career Type<br />

(current position, numbers current as of Sept. 1, <strong>2020</strong>)<br />

62%<br />

Science-related<br />

19%<br />

In <strong>2020</strong>, the Graduate School<br />

received an impressive<br />

110 student applications for<br />

the upcoming academic year<br />

— a more than 50% increase<br />

from 2018 application<br />

numbers. The year also saw<br />

seven new students join the<br />

Graduate School, and five<br />

students completed<br />

their degrees.<br />

Number of Graduate<br />

School student<br />

applications, by year:<br />

<strong>2020</strong> — 110<br />

2019 — 82<br />

2018 — 68<br />

Primarily teaching<br />

14%<br />

Further training or<br />

5%<br />

education<br />

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

By Job Sector<br />

(current position, numbers current as of Sept. 1, <strong>2020</strong>)<br />

Nonprofit<br />

29%<br />

5.5 Median years to Ph.D.<br />

For-Profit<br />

19%<br />

70% Completion rate for Ph.D.<br />

76% Completion rate for M.S. and Ph.D.<br />

Academia<br />

52%<br />

0 10 20 30 40 50 60<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 23







From cohort to college: Analis Floyd<br />


Analis Floyd tromped through the<br />

Grand Rapids-area marshland,<br />

searching for crawfish and other<br />

animals that she could observe in their<br />

natural, swampy habitat. At times, she<br />

reached down to take water samples, to<br />

test for bacteria and other water quality<br />

indicators.<br />

This wasn’t a traditional research mission,<br />

spearheaded by an environmental agency<br />

or a university. Analis was in grade school<br />

at the time, and she was out in nature<br />

with Van Andel Institute for Education’s<br />

Afterschool Cohort.<br />

Analis joined Afterschool Cohort in the<br />

2006 school year. Her elementary school<br />

principal noticed her academic gifts and<br />

recommended her family sign her up for<br />

the program, which is open to students in<br />

grades 4–7.<br />

Afterschool Cohort immersed Floyd<br />

and her fellow students in engaging<br />

experiences and thought-provoking<br />

experiments designed to help students<br />

learn to think and act like scientists<br />

by applying the scientific method —<br />

proposing a hypothesis and testing it.<br />

Analis remembers conducting experiments<br />

to learn about bacteria on lizards and<br />

how different soils and fertilizers affect<br />

plant growth. At the end of each semester,<br />

students would present their findings to<br />

each other, which helped Analis develop<br />

her public speaking skills.<br />

“Afterschool Cohort opened up a lot<br />

of opportunities for me academically,”<br />

said Analis. “Being that young and super<br />

curious, I was exposed to a lot that I<br />

wouldn’t have been exposed to, being an<br />

inner-city kid in Grand Rapids.”<br />

Analis’ early introduction to the scientific<br />

method through Afterschool Cohort<br />

helped her throughout her education. At<br />

Grand Rapids City High School, she took<br />

advanced biology classes. She earned a<br />

pre-physical therapy degree from Aquinas<br />

College. As of spring 2021, she was close<br />

to completing her master’s degree in<br />

biomedical sciences at Grand Valley State<br />

University while working at Grand Rapidsbased<br />

Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy.<br />

“To graduate from my master’s degree<br />

program, I have to propose a thesis and<br />

then defend it,” said Analis. “I have to do<br />

research and experiment design and use<br />

the scientific method. Because I did it so<br />

much growing up and during Cohort, I<br />

know what to look for and how to make<br />

things clear and concise.”<br />

Visit vaei.org for more information about<br />

Afterschool Cohort. The program is offered at<br />

no cost thanks to the generous support of a<br />

VAI donor.<br />

26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

VAI helps bring the classroom<br />

to everyone<br />


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

collective efforts to develop and encourage young minds to thrive in an increasingly fastpaced<br />

world. When the pandemic struck, it challenged traditional classroom learning and required<br />

education to happen nearly everywhere besides the classroom: the dinner table, the kitchen<br />

counter, the spare room-turned-home office.<br />

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

provided exceptional support to educators and families in a deeply stressful and uncertain<br />

environment. Our sharp, nimble staff of expert educators quickly responded and adapted to<br />

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

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

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

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

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

online lessons and science experiments.<br />

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

incorporated elements that would get students up, moving and away from the computer.<br />

Afterschool Cohort, one of our most popular student programs, also moved to a fully<br />

online format.<br />

The Institute launched a series of webinars where teachers could connect with our expert<br />

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

Flex PD teacher professional development programs went virtual with great success. The Institute<br />

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

use them in whatever environment best suited their needs. We also offered new Customized<br />

Virtual Science Experiences, giving parents and teachers crucial access to on-demand<br />

science lessons.<br />

So many of society’s most cherished institutions — our schools included — were significantly<br />

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

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

supported when they needed it most.<br />


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 27

Education highlights<br />

Blue Apple projects adapt to<br />

new settings<br />

As learning moved to virtual and hybrid<br />

formats, Van Andel Institute for Education<br />

adapted each inquiry-based Blue Apple project<br />

to amplify impact in whatever setting students,<br />

teachers and parents found themselves.<br />

Educators across the nation used Blue<br />

Apple materials to propel students through<br />

these overwhelming challenges and to bring<br />

curiosity, creativity and critical thinking to<br />

wherever students were learning.<br />

Blue Apple Timely Topics connect<br />

students to current events<br />

The pandemic disrupted even the best-laid<br />

plans, and teachers looking for support as<br />

they pivoted to new learning environments<br />

found it at Van Andel Institute for Education.<br />

The Institute launched a new program called<br />

Timely Topics, a series of free, 15-minute mini<br />

lessons on matters ranging from civil debate<br />

to the changing seasons. The lessons immerse<br />

students in meaningful discussions on current<br />

events and relevant issues through hands-on<br />

investigations and experiments.<br />

Customized Virtual Science<br />

Experiences help teachers on-demand<br />

Students learn best through engaging, handson<br />

lessons. This is even more important —<br />

and challenging — in virtual settings. VAI’s<br />

Customized Virtual Science Experiences<br />

give teachers and parents the tools to help<br />

students succeed with fun, interactive<br />

science experiments. The Institute works<br />

with educators to craft experiences to meet<br />

their individual needs and inspire students to<br />

explore and solve problems using scientific<br />

methods, tools and resources.<br />

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

2,174 teacher<br />

professional development<br />

webinar registrations<br />

416 students served<br />

with virtual science<br />

experiences<br />






28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 29












Winterfest Celebration<br />













Note: Some photos in this edition of<br />

the <strong>Annual</strong> <strong>Report</strong> were taken prior<br />

to distancing guidelines related to the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

32 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

VAI Forum on Parkinson’s,<br />

Alzheimer’s & Lewy Body Dementia<br />

EVENTS<br />










VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 33

Board of Governors Virtual Dinner<br />











34 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

VAI Golf Outing<br />

EVENTS<br />










VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 35

Couture for a Cure<br />









36 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

Hope on the Hill Gala —<br />

Star Light, Star Bright<br />

EVENTS<br />








VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 37

A Conversation About Depression<br />

Hosted By Carol Van Andel<br />



238 | | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

Signature special event sponsors<br />

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

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


AHC Hospitality<br />

AIC Insurance Services<br />

Amway<br />

Anonymous<br />

Aon<br />

Steven & Amanda Barbour<br />

Barnes & Thornburg LLP<br />

BD’s BBQ<br />

Belwith Keeler<br />

Betz Industries<br />

BHS Insurance<br />

Dave & Jill Bielema<br />

Blue Cross Blue Shield<br />

Bluewater Technologies<br />

Chuck & Christine Boelkins<br />

Brody’s Be Café<br />

Buist Electric<br />

Calamos Investments<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Scott & Heidi Campbell<br />

Carnelian Energy Capital<br />

Charles Anderson<br />

Cheeky Strut<br />

Consumers Credit Union<br />

Cornerstone University<br />

Corporate Cocktail Co.<br />

Mimi Cummings<br />

Cumulus Media<br />

Tom & Tracy Curran<br />

Custer Inc.<br />

CWD Real Estate Investment<br />

Davenport University<br />

David & Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation<br />

Deloitte<br />

Mike & Jean Dery<br />

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh<br />

Jeff & Mary Dixon<br />

Edge Natural Resources<br />

Eenhoorn LLC<br />

Eileen DeVries Family Foundation<br />

Ellis Parking<br />

Engelsma Homes LLC<br />

Erhardt Construction<br />

Ernst & Young<br />

Eurest<br />

Fifth Third Private Bank<br />

First National Bank<br />

First National Bank of Michigan<br />

Foremost Insurance Group<br />

Gallagher Insurance<br />

Grand Rapids Business Journal<br />

Grand Rapids Christian Schools<br />

Grand Valley State University<br />

Martin & Peggy Greydanus<br />

Patti Griswold<br />

Jana Hall<br />

Hansen — Balk Steel Treating Co.<br />

Harvey Automotive<br />

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger<br />

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate<br />

HB Wealth Management<br />

HealthBridge<br />

Dave & Donna Hockstra<br />

Hope College<br />

Howard Miller<br />

J.C. & Tammy Huizenga<br />

Huizenga Group<br />

Bill & Starr Humphries<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

ICN Foundation<br />

iHeart Media<br />

Mike & Sue Jandernoa<br />

Jeffery Roberts Design<br />

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones<br />

Kloostra Family Foundation<br />

Al & Robin Koop<br />

Craig & Deb Kinney<br />

Blake & Mary Krueger<br />

John & Katie Kuiper<br />

Ray & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Lighthouse Insurance Group<br />

Loomis, Sayles & Company<br />

Gary & Vicky Ludema<br />

Macatawa Bank<br />

Making the Turn Against Parkinson’s<br />

McAlvey Merchant & Associates<br />

McShane & Bowie, PLC<br />

Deb Meijer<br />

Mercy Health<br />

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

Mackay & Bernecker Group<br />

Metro Health — University of<br />

Michigan Health<br />

Michigan State University — College<br />

of Human Medicine<br />

Midwest Capital Advisors<br />

New Holland Brewing Co.<br />

Northern Jet Management<br />

Nothing Bundt Cakes<br />

NPF Investment Advisors<br />

Oppenheimer & Company Inc. Michael<br />

J. Murdock<br />

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.<br />

Palio<br />

Perper Design<br />

Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation<br />

Pine Rest Christian Mental<br />

Health Services<br />

Pioneer Construction<br />

PL Capital Advisors, LLC<br />

Priority Health<br />

Reds at Thousand Oaks<br />

Tom & Brenda Rinks<br />

Rockford Construction<br />

Paul Becker & Eve Rogus<br />

Rowerdink Inc.<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Rycenga Building Center<br />

San Chez Bistro<br />

Secrest Wardle<br />

Tony & Dawn Semple<br />

Sharpe<br />

Slows BBQ<br />

Spectrum Health<br />

Rob & Susan Stafford<br />

Steelcase<br />

Stephen Klotz Family Foundation<br />

Straight Line Design<br />

Tom & Mary Stuit<br />

Suburban Landscapes<br />

Summit Point Roofing<br />

Taconic Charitable Foundation<br />

The Chop House<br />

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck<br />

The Steve & Amy Van Andel Foundation<br />

Thomas S. Fox Family<br />

TKS Security<br />

Townsquare<br />

Trillium Ventures<br />

US Bank<br />

US Signal<br />

Sharon Van Dellen<br />

Mike & Michelle Van Dyke<br />

Dan & Ann Van Eerden<br />

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

Mike & Gayle VanGessel<br />

Vintage Prime & Seafood<br />

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP<br />

West Michigan Woman<br />

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Robert & Karen Wiltz<br />

Wolverine Worldwide<br />

Women’s Lifestyle<br />

Zip Xpress Inc.<br />

Jim & Jane Zwiers<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 39

Consumers Credit Union: A community<br />

partnership of action and hope<br />

The support of dedicated community partners bolsters biomedical research and<br />

educational programs at Van Andel Institute year after year. This group of cherished<br />

supporters includes Consumers Credit Union, whose collaborative efforts with VAI are<br />

co-championed by their chief marketing officer, Lynne Jarman-Johnson.<br />

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

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

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

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

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

Street office manager, Stephanie Stacey, coordinated the partnership. She ensured that we<br />

volunteered with our feet on the ground in our communities and was the impetus for our<br />

long-term partnership with VAI.”<br />

“One of our values as a credit union is to be passionate. Our<br />

passion for serving others and bridging gaps in wellness,<br />

both financially and through our partnership with Van Andel<br />

Institute, is a value we are honored to share.”<br />

— Lynne Jarman-Johnson<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

40 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


257 registrations for Consumers<br />

Credit Union Virtual Public Lecture<br />

knew our partnership was needed more than ever, and<br />

while the Purple Community 5K is on hold, our support<br />

is not.”<br />

Most recently, the credit union collaborated with VAI to<br />

host the Consumers Credit Union Virtual Public Lecture: A<br />

Focus on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Dementia<br />

as part of the Institute’s Public Lecture Series, held<br />

virtually this year.<br />

“I think that especially right now, people are craving to<br />

learn. This last year has been a time of deep reflection for<br />

many people,” said Lynne. “The educational component<br />

of being able to listen to and ask questions of scientists<br />

is something that nobody expects to be able to do, but<br />

that — especially now — has been very calming for many<br />

people and many of our members.”<br />

$210,847 lifetime total<br />

raised by the Purple Community 5K<br />




VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 41

Jim & Jane Zwiers: Embodying the spirit of philanthropy<br />

Members of Van Andel Institute’s Board of Governors<br />

embody in their everyday lives the spirit of VAI’s<br />

mission — to impact human health and enhance lives<br />

for current and future generations.<br />

Jim and Jane Zwiers are a prime example. The Calvin<br />

University alumni have been married for nearly 31 years<br />

and together have given time and funds to VAI for almost a<br />

decade.<br />

“Philanthropy is a big part of our lives and our family,<br />

especially as it connects to things like youth, education and<br />

the outdoors,” said Jane. “Each of our children has found a<br />

way in their adult lives to remain connected to volunteering<br />

and nonprofit work, and we are proud that they also<br />

continue to give back to this community.”<br />

Like many donors and volunteers at VAI, the Zwiers have<br />

several close family members and friends who have<br />

been impacted by diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s.<br />

Supporting the Institute gives them a meaningful role in<br />

addressing these diseases at the highest levels of research.<br />

“We are privileged to have VAI’s world-class scientists<br />

and facilities right here in Grand Rapids; they are deeply<br />

impacting the lives of individuals and our community,”<br />

said Jim. “At the fundraising and informational events, it’s<br />

inspiring to hear about their ingenuity and skills. It makes<br />

the work of VAI come to life.”<br />

Wedgwood Christian Services Board and volunteers and<br />

fundraises for a variety of other charities and nonprofits.<br />

Jim, who formerly worked as a CPA and a lawyer after<br />

receiving his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan,<br />

now serves as executive vice president at Wolverine<br />

Worldwide. Like his wife, he prioritizes giving back to his<br />

community; he sits on the board of Grand Rapids’ famed<br />

ArtPrize and previously served on the boards of several<br />

industry and community nonprofit organizations.<br />

“VAI’s mission is a bold one, but to supporters, volunteers,<br />

scientists, staff and patients, it means hope,” said Jane.<br />

“Hope for better health, hope for better understanding<br />

and hope for cures to some of the most challenging and<br />

devastating diseases facing our society.”<br />

Members of Van Andel Institute’s Board of<br />

Governors support the Institute financially and<br />

are ambassadors who share VAI’s mission, vision<br />

and important work with others to advance the<br />

Institute’s efforts. Learn more about the<br />

Board of Governors at vai.org/help-donate/<br />

board-of-governors/.<br />

The pair, in addition to their philanthropic support, also<br />

dedicate time and energy to donor initiatives at the<br />

Institute and beyond. Jane serves on VAI’s Hope on the<br />

Hill Gala planning committee. She also serves on the<br />

42 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong><br />


Uniting young, ambitious professionals<br />

in support of VAI’s mission<br />


Young professionals looking to make an impact<br />

on research into diseases like cancer and<br />

Parkinson’s need look no further than Van Andel<br />

Institute’s JBoard Ambassadors. This group, more<br />

than 80 members strong, brings together the young,<br />

philanthropic hearts and hands of Grand Rapids in<br />

support of VAI’s mission to improve health and enhance<br />

lives now and for generations to come.<br />

“Van Andel Institute’s ability to bring the community<br />

together under a common goal is unmatched,” said Kyle<br />

Van Andel, a member of VAI’s JBoard Advisory Council<br />

and son of Chairman and CEO David Van Andel and his<br />

wife Carol Van Andel. “Whether it be through education<br />

events, or volunteering, VAI understands that anyone<br />

and everyone can contribute in a positive way. This<br />

ability to bring people together has led to major cuttingedge<br />

discoveries and will continue to create more<br />

opportunities for many generations.”<br />

To support those breakthroughs, JBoard Ambassadors<br />

pledge to donate $25 a month, or $300 a year, all of<br />

which directly benefits biomedical research and K–12<br />

and graduate education at VAI. Members have the<br />

opportunity throughout the year to engage directly with<br />

Institute scientists and educators and learn more about<br />

VAI’s work through events like Virtual Coffee Connection.<br />

Although the annual JBoard Member Mixer went virtual<br />

in <strong>2020</strong>, Ambassadors were still able to enjoy wine<br />

and cheese pairings from Aperitivo in the comfort<br />

of their own homes while learning about the latest<br />

groundbreaking work happening at VAI. Presenters<br />

included Chief Education Officer Terra Tarango and<br />

postdoctoral fellows Dr. Michael Dahabieh,<br />

Dr. Emmanuel Quansah and Dr. Payton Stevens.<br />

<strong>2020</strong> JBoard Advisory Council<br />

Co-chairs: Chad Bassett & Rachel Mraz<br />

Christopher Billmeier<br />

Kendra Osowski<br />

Alex Schrotenboer<br />

Kyle Van Andel<br />





VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 43

Southside Hockey Fights Cancer brings hope to a difficult year<br />

Looking back after such a challenging year, the annual<br />

Southside Hockey Fights Cancer weekend was a true<br />

spot of brightness. Walking into Southside Arena on<br />

Friday, Feb. 7, <strong>2020</strong>, it was impossible to miss all the purple<br />

decor and the air of excitement and hope. By the end<br />

of the weekend, the event raised more than $59,000 in<br />

support of cancer research at VAI. And since the event’s<br />

creation in 2016, more than $253,000 has been raised<br />

— an incredible show of support from Southside and the<br />

Grand Rapids community.<br />

Hundreds of families and players turn out each year to<br />

support VAI during this incredible three-day weekend:<br />

Children play games and win prizes at the Purple<br />

Community table, and the players’ families don every shade<br />

of purple imaginable. Teams from across Michigan come to<br />

play against Fox Motors Hockey, whose players each sport<br />

a unique jersey featuring the name of a loved one who has<br />

experienced a cancer diagnosis.<br />

The biggest event of the weekend is the All-Star Game,<br />

during which Southside chooses one special person to<br />

participate in the ceremonial puck drop. For the past two<br />

years, Eric Langdon, a loving husband and father who was<br />

diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, has been featured as<br />

the puck drop honoree.<br />

Southside Hockey Fights Cancer gives the Grand Rapids<br />

community a chance to show support for loved ones<br />

who have faced cancer, and to have an impactful role in<br />

the groundbreaking research into diseases like cancer<br />

and Parkinson’s that happens every day at VAI. Thanks<br />

to their incredible fundraising efforts on behalf of VAI,<br />

Southside was inducted into the Institute’s Legacy Society<br />

in 2018 — an honor bestowed on individuals, organizations<br />

and businesses that have given more than $100,000<br />

cumulatively to VAI.<br />

Hockey Fights Cancer weekend at Southside holds a special<br />

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

are more people cheering him on — in life and on the ice<br />

— than he could have ever imagined.<br />

To learn more about Southside Hockey Fights Cancer and other<br />

VAI events, visit vai.org/events.<br />



44 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

Scored Grant Program gives research<br />

an extra boost<br />

In <strong>2020</strong>, West Michigan engineering firm Prein&Newhof marked 50 years in<br />

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

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

Research Fund to support Van Andel Institute’s Scored Grant Award Program.<br />

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

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

year, and the process for earning federal grants is highly rigorous and competitive.<br />

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

the idea they want to investigate. But conducting the research necessary to<br />

generate this foundational data can be hampered by a lack of funding.<br />

That’s where VAI’s Scored Grant Award Program comes in. It provides research<br />

funding to scientists whose federal grant applications scored very highly, but just<br />

below the funding threshold — giving scientists with promising projects the extra<br />

boost needed to conduct the additional research necessary to put forth a revised,<br />

successful application in the next round of grants. In <strong>2020</strong>, four projects were<br />

supported by the program.<br />

Philanthropy highlights<br />

A year of changes brings about creative adaptations<br />

<strong>2020</strong> brought about relentless challenges in our communities, and Van Andel<br />

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

Community events made a strong showing and found ways to adapt.<br />

• 38 student ambassadors joined VAI’s Student Ambassador Program, which went<br />

virtual in <strong>2020</strong>. The group held a virtual silent auction in April 2021 as a<br />

culmination of the leadership and fundraising experience they gained through<br />

the program.<br />

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

created by the pandemic to host a fun, safe event in October.<br />

• The Student Leadership Conference went virtual for the Zoom era and is<br />

now available completely on-demand; when teachers want to schedule a time<br />

to virtually tour VAI, hear directly from Institute scientists and conduct fun<br />

experiments remotely, VAI is there to help.<br />

For information about these programs and others, visit purplecommunity.vai.org.<br />

VAI Marathon Team offers support start to finish<br />

Van Andel Institute’s Marathon Team gets people moving in support of our<br />

mission to improve health and enhance lives. Established in 2017 in conjunction<br />

with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the VAI team receives a limited number<br />

of free entries into the Chicago race and the TCS New York City Marathon each<br />

year. Members have access to training programs and a supportive group of fellow<br />

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

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

biomedical research and K–12 and graduate education programs at VAI.<br />

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

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

member who ran in memory of his late friend Eric Westra and his battle against<br />

osteosarcoma. ”The infrastructure and the help and training VAI provided made it<br />

a much better experience.”<br />

Public Lecture Series thrives in virtual landscape<br />

Van Andel Institute held four virtual public lectures in <strong>2020</strong> and one public<br />

lecture in person prior to the outset of the pandemic. VAI experts shared<br />

with the community — in Grand Rapids and, thanks to the virtual platform,<br />

anywhere with internet — their knowledge on the latest breakthroughs and<br />

trends in biomedical research and science education. Topics included cancer<br />

research trends; Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia with Lewy bodies;<br />

metabolism and its effect on future generations; and a look at the experience of<br />

educating in a landscape changed by the pandemic. These presentations were<br />

given by Dr. Peter A. Jones, Dr. José Brás, Dr. Rita Guerreiro, Dr. Patrik Brundin,<br />

Dr. Darren Moore, Dr. Heidi Lempradl, Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik and Chief<br />

Education Officer Terra Tarango.<br />

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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 45


Circle of Hope<br />

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

recognizes those who have included<br />

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

estate plans. Through our acknowledgment of<br />

and gratitude to these exceptional people, we<br />

hope that their generosity will inspire others.<br />

Anonymous<br />

Vivian Anderson*<br />

Blanche Ash*<br />

Kevin & Michelle Bassett<br />

Philip & Shirley Battershall<br />

John* & Nancy Batts<br />

Fred & Julie* Bogaert<br />

William & Marilyn Crawford<br />

Barbara Erhards<br />

J. Scott Grill*<br />

Joan Hammersmith*<br />

Terry & Jacklyn Hickman<br />

Arthur Joseph Jabury*<br />

Maryanna Johnson<br />

Reneé Kuipers*<br />

Timothy & Kimberly Long<br />

Donald* & Kathleen Maine<br />

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols<br />

LG* & Helen* Myers<br />

Robert* & Lorraine* Nyhoff<br />

Jone E. Phillips*<br />

Donna Rosa<br />

Ronald Rutkowski<br />

Alan R. Ryan*<br />

Ralph Siegel*<br />

George Sietsema*<br />

Eva Sonneville*<br />

Fred L. Tape<br />

Hylda* & Alvin* Tuuk<br />

John E. VanFossen<br />

John Visser*<br />

Carol Winton*<br />

John Wisneski*<br />

*Indicates deceased<br />

Circle of Hope members<br />

By the numbers<br />

69%<br />

VAI VAI Operating Revenues<br />

2%<br />

4%<br />

25%<br />

$63,900K<br />

$22,600K<br />

$4,100K<br />

$2,000K<br />

Investment<br />

return utilized<br />

Grant &<br />

contract revenue<br />

Contributions<br />

Other revenues<br />

30%<br />

Operating VAI Operating Expenses Expenses<br />

4%<br />

66%<br />

$64,800K Research<br />

$28,800K<br />

$4,300K<br />

Management,<br />

general & other<br />

Education<br />

Designated Gifts | $5,271K Total<br />

Unrestricted<br />

$1,519K<br />

$585K<br />

$844K<br />

$1,232K<br />

$869K<br />

$82K<br />

$140K<br />

Scientific Evt Sponsorships<br />

Cancer<br />

Other<br />

Cardiovascular<br />

Neurodegenerative<br />

Internship Program<br />

Neurodegenerative<br />

Internship Program<br />

Unrestricted<br />

Education<br />

Other<br />

Cardiovascular<br />

Cancer<br />

Education<br />

46 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

Institute Leadership Team<br />


David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

David Van Andel is Chairman and CEO of Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids,<br />

Michigan. He is also an entrepreneur involved in several other business<br />

interests in the natural and life science products industries.<br />

The son of Jay Van Andel, founder of Van Andel Institute and co-founder<br />

of Amway Corporation, David is currently a member of Amway’s Board of<br />

Directors and serves on its Executive, Governance and Audit committees.<br />

Before leading Van Andel Institute, he had held various positions at Amway<br />

since 1977, including chief operating officer of Amway’s Pyxis Innovations<br />

Business Unit, and was senior vice president — Americas and Europe,<br />

overseeing Amway business activities in North America and 22 European and<br />

11 Latin American affiliates.<br />

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

Deputy Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Jerry Callahan, Ph.D., MBA<br />

Chief Strategic Officer<br />

Jana Hall, Ph.D., MBA<br />

Chief Operations Officer<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Timothy Myers, MBA, CPA<br />

Vice President & Chief Financial Officer<br />

Sam Pinto<br />

Vice President & Chief Facilities Officer<br />

Terra Tarango<br />

Director & Chief Education Officer,<br />

Van Andel Institute for Education<br />

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

President & Dean, Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School<br />

Linda Zarzecki<br />

Vice President of Human Resources<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 47

Van Andel Institute Board Members<br />

Van Andel Institute<br />

Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Joan Budden<br />

Former President & Chief Executive Officer, Priority Health<br />

John Kennedy<br />

President & Chief Executive Officer, Autocam Medical<br />

Mark Meijer<br />

Founder & President, Life E.M.S. Ambulance<br />

Van Andel Research<br />

Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Tom R. DeMeester, M.D.<br />

Professor & Chairman Emeritus, Department of Surgery,<br />

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California<br />

James B. Fahner, M.D.<br />

Chief of Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s<br />

Hospital<br />

Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D.<br />

Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology;<br />

Director, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer<br />

Center; Director, Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory,<br />

University of Chicago<br />

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

Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Emeritus; Founding<br />

Research Director, Van Andel Institute<br />

Max S. Wicha, M.D.<br />

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,<br />

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,<br />

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

Van Andel Education<br />

Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

James E. Bultman, Ed.D.<br />

President Emeritus, Hope College<br />

Susan Keipper Meell<br />

Chief Executive Officer, MMS Education<br />

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.<br />

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity<br />

& Inclusion, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy,<br />

Grand Valley State University; President Emeritus,<br />

Aquinas College<br />

Teresa Weatherall Neal, Ed.D. (hon)<br />

Former Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools<br />



48 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

BOARDS<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate<br />

School Board of Directors<br />

James B. Fahner, M.D.<br />

Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology & Senior<br />

Administrative Physician for Philanthropy & Community<br />

Relations at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Pamela Kidd, M.D.<br />

Medical Medical Director, Hematology & Flow Cytometry<br />

Laboratories of Spectrum Health & Helen DeVos<br />

Children’s Hospital<br />

Karen Klomparens, Ph.D.<br />

Vice Chair; Former Dean of the Graduate School &<br />

Associate Provost for Graduate Education, Michigan State<br />

University<br />

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.<br />

Chairman of the Board; Distinguished Scholar in<br />

Residence for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Dorothy A.<br />

Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State<br />

University; President Emeritus, Aquinas College<br />

Mary O’Riordan, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies<br />

and Frederick C. Neidhardt Collegiate Professor of<br />

Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan<br />

Medical School<br />

Danny R. Welch, Ph.D.<br />

Founding Chair, Department of Cancer Biology, University<br />

of Kansas Cancer Center<br />

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

External Scientific Advisory Board<br />

Sharon Y.R. Dent, Ph.D. (ESAB Chair)<br />

Professor & Chair, Department of Epigenetics & Molecular<br />

Carcinogenesis; Director, Science Park; Director, Center<br />

for Cancer Epigenetics, MD Anderson Cancer Center<br />

Xiaodong Cheng, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer<br />

Center, Department of Molecular & Cellular Oncology<br />

Joseph Ecker, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Plant Molecular & Cellular Biology Laboratory;<br />

Director, Genomic Analysis Laboratory, Salk Institute;<br />

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator<br />

Theresa Guise, M.D.<br />

Professor Department of Endocrine Neoplasia &<br />

Hormonal Disorders; Chief, Section of Bone & Mineral<br />

Disorders at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer<br />

Center; Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas<br />

(CPRIT) Scholar; Co-Director, The Rolanette & Berdon<br />

Lawrence Bone Disease Program of Texas​; Co-Leader,<br />

Tumor Microenvironment & Metastasis program of the<br />

IU Simon Cancer Center, NCI Comprehensive Cancer<br />

Center<br />

Tony Hunter, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory; American<br />

Cancer Society Professor; Renato Dulbecco Chair;<br />

Director, Salk Institute Cancer Center<br />

Anthony E. Lang, M.D.<br />

Senior Scientist, Krembil Research Institute<br />

Mitchell Lazar, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Willard & Rhoda Ware Professor in Diabetes &<br />

Metabolic Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine,<br />

University of Pennsylvania<br />

Thomas J. Montine, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Pathology, Stanford University<br />

Max S. Wicha, M.D.<br />

Distinguished Professor of Oncology; Professor,<br />

Department of Internal Medicine; Founding Director,<br />

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 49

Van Andel Institute Board of Governors<br />

Co-Chairs<br />

Tim Long<br />

Vicky Ludema<br />

Members<br />

Chris Ade<br />

Perry Alburg<br />

Liz Alexander<br />

Rosemary Anderson<br />

Kurt Arvidson<br />

Tony & Kathleen Asselta<br />

Jeff Battershall<br />

Regena Bassett<br />

John & Virginia Baysore<br />

Norman & Kristina Beauchamp<br />

Stacie Behler<br />

Bradley & Anna Bengtson<br />

Gregory & Rajene Betz<br />

Karl & Patricia Betz<br />

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi<br />

Dave & Jill Bielema<br />

Daniel Bitzer<br />

Chuck & Christine Boelkins<br />

Carrie Boer<br />

M. Rodrick & Kathleen Bolhous<br />

Chuck & Sarah Booth<br />

Jeremy Bouwhuis<br />

Patrick Brady<br />

Leonard Brucato<br />

Joan Budden<br />

Dr. James E. Bultman<br />

William & Jackie Bylenga<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Amy & Randall Chambers<br />

Stacey Coffman<br />

Mike & Kathy Cok<br />

Steven & Diane Colvin<br />

Stephen Comer<br />

Matthew & Carlie Cook<br />

Bill & Marilyn Crawford<br />

Mimi Cummings<br />

Tom & Tracy Curran<br />

William Currie<br />

Dave & Karen Custer<br />

Stephen & Jennifer Czech<br />

Jerry & Karen DeBlaay<br />

Thomas & Jacquie DeJonge<br />

Douglas & Sandra Dekock<br />

Rob DeVilbiss<br />

Dick & Betsy DeVos<br />

Douglas & Maria DeVos<br />

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh<br />

Daniel & Viki Distin<br />

Cynthia Dunlap<br />

John Dykstra<br />

Mark Eastburg<br />

Michael & Lynette Ellis<br />

Tim & Gail Emmitt<br />

Henry & Anne Emrich<br />

Mathew & Jennifer Fahrenkrug<br />

Tom & Mickie Fox<br />

Tina Freese-Decker<br />

Edward Fritsch<br />

Dan & LouAnn Gaydou<br />

Todd & Brenda Gardner<br />

Stuart & Lori Genschaw<br />

John & Nancy Gordon<br />

Brent & Cheryl Granger<br />

Martin & Peggy Greydanus<br />

Jefra Groendyk<br />

Ronald Haan<br />

Dr. Thomas & Marcia Haas<br />

Peter Hahn<br />

Jana Hall<br />

Tom & Lynn Hammer<br />

Scott Hammontree<br />

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger<br />

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate<br />

Lewis & Teresa Hendricks-Pitsch<br />

Paul & Rosemary Heule<br />

Steve Hodges<br />

Dirk & June Hoffius<br />

Rhonda & Marshall Huismann<br />

J.C. Huizenga & Dr. Tammy L.<br />

Born-Huizenga<br />

Bill & Starr Humphries<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

John & Laura Hurley<br />

Bea Idema<br />

Kyle Irwin<br />

Mike & Sue Jandernoa<br />

Robert & Lynne Jarman-Johnson<br />

Dr. Peter A. & Veronica Jones<br />

John & Deb Kailunas<br />

John & Nancy Kennedy<br />

Craig & Debra Kinney<br />

Stephen Klotz<br />

Al & Robin Koop<br />

Blake & Mary Krueger<br />

Renee Kuipers<br />

Michael & Brenda Lamfers<br />

Ray & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Kenneth Larm<br />

Wayne & Terry Lobdell<br />

Ray B. Loeschner<br />

Kim Long<br />

Steve Longstreet<br />

Gary Ludema<br />

Michael & Suzanne Lunn<br />

David Madiol<br />

Kathleen Maine<br />

John & Michele Maly-Dykema<br />

Joe Martinez<br />

Holly McCaw<br />

Michael & Jen McGraw<br />

Deb Meijer<br />

Lena Meijer<br />

Mark & Mary Beth Meijer<br />

Rusty & Jenn Merchant<br />

Howard & Lisa Miller<br />

Jack H. Miller<br />

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Martha Muir<br />

Laurie-Ann Netto<br />

Jack Nichols<br />

Juan & Mary Olivarez<br />

Steve Olson<br />

Richard Pappas<br />

Richard Postma<br />

Ryan Quillan<br />

Sam & Francesca Rehnborg<br />

Patrick Reid<br />

Henry Rempe<br />

Pat Ringnalda<br />

Brenda & Tom Rinks<br />

Jeffery Roberts<br />

Eve Rogus & Paul Becker<br />

Kari Luther Rosbeck<br />

Doug Rottman<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Fred & Kathy Rozema<br />

Christine Salvati<br />

H. Gideon Sanders<br />

Michael & Cynthia Schaap<br />

Megan Schmidt<br />

Tim & Barbie Schowalter<br />

Mr. Matthew A. Scogin<br />

Peter & Joan Secchia<br />

Tony & Dawn Semple<br />

Thank you, Board of Governors.<br />

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

Thank you for being our partners and contributing significantly to our success.<br />

50 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>


George & Linda Sharpe<br />

George & Missy Sharpe<br />

Nicole Sharpe<br />

Eric & Mary Shupe<br />

Jason & Kasie Smith<br />

John & Judy Spoelhof<br />

Rob & Susan Stafford<br />

Peter Stamos & Soonmee<br />

Cha-Stamos<br />

Frank & Dana Stanek<br />

Tom Stavrou<br />

Dr. James L. Strikwerda<br />

Thomas & Mary Stuit<br />

Theresa Sullivan<br />

Duke Suwyn<br />

Steve & Cheryl Timyan<br />

Marilyn Titche<br />

Brian Toronyi<br />

Dr. Steve & Laura Triezenberg<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Steve & Amy Van Andel<br />

Michael & Michelle Van Dyke<br />

Dan & Ann Marie Van Eerden<br />

Donna Van Haren<br />

Dave & Beth Van Portfliet<br />

Maria Van Til<br />

Dr. George Vande Woude<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

Allen & Nancy VanderLaan<br />

Sharon VanDellen<br />

Don & Janell VanDine<br />

Michael & Gayle VanGessel<br />

James & Mary Veldheer<br />

John & Vanessa Veleris<br />

Peter & Denise Versluis<br />

Chris & Dana Vinton<br />

Phillip & Kathleen Vogelsang<br />

Jen Weixeldorfer<br />

Tom & Laurie Welch<br />

Todd & Tracy Wenzel<br />

Ben & Jennifer Wickstrom<br />

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak<br />

Scott & Rebecca Wierda<br />

Julie Wiersema<br />

Jim & Sue Williams<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Steve Wlodarski<br />

Galit Wolf<br />

Dr. Leslie Wong<br />

John & Kathleen Workman<br />

Todd Wriggelsworth &<br />

Renee Tabben<br />

Sean Wright<br />

Jim & Jane Zwiers<br />

Van Andel Institute JBoard Ambassadors<br />

Co-chairs: Chad Bassett & Rachel Mraz<br />

Dorothy Armstrong<br />

Travis Arnoys<br />

Keegan Balk<br />

Robert & Kathryn Barcelona<br />

Chad Bassett<br />

Christopher Billmeier<br />

Hannah Blackwell<br />

Paige Cornetet<br />

Blake Crabb<br />

Jenna DeBest<br />

Aaron & Afton DeVos<br />

Samuel DeVries<br />

Alex Ehlert-VanBeveren<br />

Jennifer Fischer<br />

Dana Friis-Hansen<br />

Meghan Gartman<br />

Zachary Gebben<br />

Mary Hilger<br />

Ken Hoffman & Lisa Rose<br />

Mark Holzbach<br />

Jordan Hoyer<br />

Jason & Brandi Huyser<br />

Eric Jones<br />

Matt & Sarah Jones<br />

Andrew Kapanowski<br />

Margaret Kennedy<br />

Kevin & Kathryn Kileen<br />

Michael & Andrea Leestma<br />

Casey Lowery<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Thomas Murray<br />

Christopher & Alyssa Nance<br />

Kendra Osowski<br />

Gregory Paplawsky<br />

Eric Payne<br />

Stacy Peck<br />

Leland & Alexandra Perez<br />

Justin Pinto<br />

Cody Pletcher<br />

Lily Powers<br />

Pablo & Jenna Prieto<br />

Nicole Probst<br />

Thomas & Kendra Ralston<br />

Sara Ross<br />

* THESE LISTS REPRESENT MEMBERSHIP BETWEEN JAN. 1, <strong>2020</strong>, AND DEC. 31, <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

Charles & Tanya Rowerdink<br />

Richard & Lisa Schrotenboer<br />

Kelsey Schweibert<br />

Jonathan & Allison Sleight<br />

Joseph Spoelhof<br />

Timothy Streit<br />

Mark Stuit<br />

Aaron & Hailey Van Andel<br />

Chris Van Andel<br />

Jesse & Heather Van Andel<br />

Kyle Van Andel<br />

Brian VanBeveren<br />

Daniel VandenBosch<br />

Sarah Vander Baan<br />

Tripp & Katie VanderWal<br />

Samuel & Sydney Vucelich<br />

Brandon & Tina Wong<br />

Cameron Young<br />

Megan Zubrickas<br />

Thank you, JBoard Ambassadors.<br />

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

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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 51

In Memoriam<br />

Dr. Viviane Labrie, an associate<br />

professor at Van Andel Institute, passed<br />

away in a tragic vehicle accident Aug. 21,<br />

<strong>2020</strong>. She was an imaginative, creative<br />

scientist. Her ability to look at the world<br />

through different lenses allowed her to see<br />

things in new ways, and ultimately revealed<br />

groundbreaking insights with the potential<br />

to change lives. Born in Ottawa, Ontario,<br />

and raised in the small town of Deep River,<br />

Ontario, Dr. Labrie quickly established<br />

herself as a globally recognized leader in her field. Although early in her career, she<br />

already had made pioneering discoveries that continue to transform the understanding<br />

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

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

for potential treatments for these diseases and shed light on the underpinnings of many<br />

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

Innately curious, Dr. Labrie’s creativity and tenacity were immediately evident and<br />

energizing to those around her. She rapidly advanced, earning an early promotion to<br />

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

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

the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.<br />

Peter Secchia, an ardent supporter<br />

of Van Andel Institute and a member<br />

of its Board of Governors, passed away<br />

Oct. 21, <strong>2020</strong>, at the age of 83. He often<br />

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

leaves a substantial hole in the collective<br />

spirit of West Michigan and in the hearts<br />

of family and friends worldwide. Along<br />

with his wife, Joan, Secchia was a longtime<br />

supporter of VAI from the early<br />

years. Secchia was the recipient of many<br />

notable awards throughout his life, including the Carol Van Andel Angel of Excellence<br />

Award, which he and Joan each received in 2017. The award celebrates individuals<br />

who have demonstrated significant contributions to VAI through volunteer service and<br />

philanthropy. Elsewhere on the Medical Mile, when Michigan State University was seeking<br />

to expand its medical school, Secchia worked to ensure its new campus was located in<br />

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

on the city’s Medical Mile.<br />

52 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong>

In Memoriam<br />

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

bringing VAI to life, passed away Sept. 29,<br />

<strong>2020</strong>. Originally from Argentina, Dr. Tomatis<br />

was an energetic advocate for Grand<br />

Rapids. He was influential in creating and<br />

maintaining the environment that enabled<br />

the Institute to thrive and the Medical Mile<br />

to sprout up around us. Dr. Tomatis helped<br />

recruit top-tier scientific talent to establish<br />

VAI’s first Board of Scientific Advisors and<br />

appoint Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Brown<br />

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

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

A cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Tomatis was a former chief of cardiovascular surgery at<br />

Spectrum Health and MSU professor of cardiac surgery. He won numerous awards,<br />

volunteered for organizations like the American Heart Association and the Grand Rapids<br />

Symphony, and was responsible for arranging for invaluable medical equipment to be<br />

sent to his homeland of Argentina.<br />

Dr. Gordon Van Wylen passed away<br />

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

of VAI’s original trustees, Dr. Van Wylen<br />

was instrumental in establishing the<br />

early programs of Van Andel Institute for<br />

Education and laid the groundwork for<br />

VAI’s success. We continue to see his vision<br />

in action through the programs we are<br />

developing and implementing today, some<br />

25 years later. A man of immense scientific<br />

knowledge, education, experience and<br />

integrity, Dr. Van Wylen was an accomplished educator and administrator. He served as<br />

dean of engineering at University of Michigan, as Hope College president for 15 years,<br />

and as founding trustee and inaugural director of Van Andel Institute for Education.<br />

Dr. Van Wylen generously devoted his time and talent to numerous other organizations<br />

throughout his life. He was widely regarded as a thoughtful, visionary, kind and<br />

respectful leader.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT <strong>2020</strong> | 53

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

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