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25th Anniversary Highlights of Hope

This is the 25th anniversary edition of Highlights of Hope, published in Fall 2021.

This is the 25th anniversary edition of Highlights of Hope, published in Fall 2021.

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25<br />

YEARS<br />

1996 – 2021<br />

<strong>Highlights</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong><br />

Contents<br />

VAI Board Members 2<br />

A letter from<br />

David Van Andel 3<br />

25 years: A timeline 4<br />

Events 16<br />

25 years: A timeline —<br />

Part 2 26<br />

VAI notable achievements 48<br />

Building on success,<br />

embracing the future 50


Van Andel Institute Board Members<br />

Van Andel Institute Board <strong>of</strong><br />

Trustees<br />

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

Board <strong>of</strong> Trustees<br />

Van Andel Education Institute<br />

Board <strong>of</strong> Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & CEO, Van Andel Institute<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & CEO, Van Andel Institute<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & CEO, Van Andel Institute<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

Joan Budden<br />

Former President & CEO, Priority Health<br />

John Kennedy<br />

President & CEO, Autocam Medical<br />

Mark Meijer<br />

Founder & President, Life EMS Ambulance<br />

Tom R. DeMeester, M.D.<br />

Pr<strong>of</strong>essor & Chairman Emeritus, Department <strong>of</strong> Surgery,<br />

Keck School <strong>of</strong> Medicine, University <strong>of</strong> Southern California<br />

James B. Fahner, M.D.<br />

Chief <strong>of</strong> Hematology & Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s<br />

Hospital<br />

Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D.<br />

Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> Medicine, Section <strong>of</strong> Hematology/Oncology;<br />

Director, University <strong>of</strong> Chicago Comprehensive Cancer<br />

Center; Director, Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory,<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Chicago<br />

Max Wicha, M.D.<br />

Distinguished Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> Oncology; Pr<strong>of</strong>essor,<br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Internal Medicine; Founding Director,<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

James E. Bultman, Ed.D.<br />

President Emeritus, <strong>Hope</strong> College<br />

Susan Keipper Meell<br />

CEO, MMS Education<br />

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.<br />

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity,<br />

Equity and Inclusion, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for<br />

Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University;<br />

President Emeritus, Aquinas College<br />

Teresa Weatherall Neal, Ed.D. (hon)<br />

Former Superintendent <strong>of</strong> Grand Rapids<br />

Public Schools<br />

2


A letter from David Van Andel<br />

Dear friends,<br />

As we celebrate Van Andel Institute’s <strong>25th</strong> anniversary this year, we look back on a world that was a much different place in<br />

1996 than it is today.<br />

Moviegoers were flocking to “Fargo.” A sheep named Dolly was the first mammal to be successfully cloned. A gallon <strong>of</strong> gas went<br />

for a buck and a quarter. Interest rates hovered around 8%.<br />

During that same timespan, we’ve grown by amazing leaps and bounds here at VAI. And you, as our faithful and dedicated<br />

supporters, have been integral to all our accomplishments leading up to our Silver <strong>Anniversary</strong>.<br />

Looking back, it’s clear that this Institute is a product <strong>of</strong> the passion and perseverance <strong>of</strong> its founders, my parents Jay and Betty<br />

Van Andel, and the countless others who have stood with us over the last quarter-century. VAI has been nurtured by the work<br />

ethic that defines West Michigan and sustained by the generous hearts in this community and beyond. Our Institute, though<br />

relatively young compared to others like it, has made such exceptional advances in a comparably short amount <strong>of</strong> time, and I<br />

am excited to see the advances that will be made in the next 25 years.<br />

From the outset, we insisted on excellence at every juncture, starting with the hire <strong>of</strong> our founding research director,<br />

the late Dr. George Vande Woude. From humble beginnings, we’ve grown our research programs to cancer epigenetics,<br />

neurodegenerative science, cell biology, structural biology, and metabolism and nutritional programming.<br />

We’re also both humbled and proud to celebrate our esteemed educational programs, which survived and thrived even amid<br />

challenging circumstances. In serving everyone from kindergarteners to graduate students seeking advanced degrees, we<br />

have widened and strengthened our reach and impact on a world in need <strong>of</strong> science more than ever.<br />

I can’t help but smile as I wonder how my parents would react if they could see what their vision has sparked. In a way, I<br />

don’t think they’d be too surprised, because they had such stalwart faith in the people <strong>of</strong> Grand Rapids and West Michigan to<br />

support endeavors like ours — ones that reach out to benefit others, today and for generations to come.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

My hope is that over our next 25 years, we will progress ever closer to understanding and overcoming cancer, Parkinson’s and<br />

other illnesses that affect too many. With your continued support, I’m confident we will reach our goal.<br />

Gratefully,<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO<br />

3


25 Years at Van Andel Institute: A Timeline<br />

1996 Jay and Betty Van Andel share a vision<br />

for a hub <strong>of</strong> scientific discovery<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

JAY & BETTY VAN ANDEL<br />

Van Andel Institute could have been built anywhere in<br />

the world. There were many, in fact, who pushed for it<br />

to be located closer to established biomedical research<br />

centers and universities in Michigan and elsewhere. But<br />

VAI Founder Jay Van Andel knew that the right place was<br />

Grand Rapids, Michigan — the community that gave his<br />

family a life full <strong>of</strong> hope and happiness, and the place<br />

that he called home.<br />

Jay Van Andel envisioned the creation <strong>of</strong> an independent<br />

institute that would embrace innovative approaches<br />

to biomedical research and science education. He<br />

wanted to develop a network <strong>of</strong> collaborations with<br />

organizations stretching across the world, starting right<br />

here in West Michigan.<br />

His wife and VAI Co-Founder Betty Van Andel especially<br />

believed in the importance <strong>of</strong> including education<br />

opportunities within the fledgling Institute. As a former<br />

teacher, she was integral in inspiring Van Andel Institute<br />

for Education to help provide a foundation for the<br />

children <strong>of</strong> future generations to follow and realize<br />

their dreams.<br />

Following the Van Andels’ vision, VAI was built in the<br />

heart <strong>of</strong> downtown Grand Rapids, at the south end<br />

<strong>of</strong> Belknap Hill. The landmark achievement fueled<br />

the creation <strong>of</strong> a hub for scientific discovery and<br />

advancements in human health.<br />

4<br />

1996


1996 David Van Andel becomes chairman and CEO<br />

A burgeoning organization needs a<br />

steadfast leader, and David Van Andel fit<br />

the bill to a tee. One <strong>of</strong> four children <strong>of</strong> VAI<br />

Co-Founders Jay and Betty Van Andel, David<br />

Van Andel stepped into his role as chairman<br />

and CEO with gusto. He appointed architect<br />

James P. Gray to serve as project manager<br />

for the construction <strong>of</strong> Phase I <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Institute, and worked hand in hand with<br />

Gray to scour proposals from architectural<br />

design firms around the world.<br />

A long-time entrepreneur in the natural and<br />

life science products industry, Van Andel<br />

has a propensity for embodying the hope<br />

and innovation that drive VAI’s mission to<br />

improve lives and enhance health.<br />

He is an active presence in VAI’s<br />

philanthropic endeavors alongside his<br />

wife, Carol Van Andel, executive director<br />

<strong>of</strong> the David and Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation. He can be found engaging<br />

with scientists, donors and educators<br />

at the Institute, particularly at signature<br />

events such as the <strong>Hope</strong> on the Hill Gala and<br />

Winterfest Celebration.<br />

David Van Andel was born in Grand Rapids,<br />

and he and Carol have four children.<br />

He played a prominent role in bringing<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional hockey back to Grand Rapids<br />

in 1996 and is co-owner and chairman<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Grand Rapids Griffins, the city’s<br />

American Hockey League team.<br />

Even with his multitude <strong>of</strong> responsibilities<br />

at VAI, Van Andel is active in numerous<br />

business, cultural and community<br />

organizations, including The Right Place<br />

Program, the <strong>Hope</strong> College Board <strong>of</strong><br />

Trustees and The Economic Club <strong>of</strong> Grand<br />

Rapids. He is also currently a member <strong>of</strong><br />

Amway’s Board <strong>of</strong> Directors and serves<br />

on its Executive, Governance and Audit<br />

committees.<br />

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

DAVID VAN ANDEL; JAY, DAVID & CAROL<br />

VAN ANDEL; FORMER PRESIDENT GERALD<br />

R. FORD & JAY & DAVID VAN ANDEL<br />

What’s in a name?<br />

Since our founding, Van Andel<br />

Institute has used many variations<br />

<strong>of</strong> our name to describe our<br />

many evolving facets and areas<br />

<strong>of</strong> expertise. Over time, however,<br />

we realized that to make a clear,<br />

lasting impact, we needed to unify<br />

the image that we present to the<br />

world: one organization made up <strong>of</strong><br />

many parts, all working together to<br />

improve health and enhance lives.<br />

In 2019, we adopted the practice<br />

<strong>of</strong> utilizing Van Andel Institute to<br />

encompass all components <strong>of</strong> our<br />

organization. We still designate our<br />

areas <strong>of</strong> expertise as appropriate<br />

when helpful, but our unity under a<br />

single name brings an added level<br />

<strong>of</strong> strength to our image, work<br />

and impact.<br />

Van Andel Institute comprises the<br />

following entities:<br />

• Van Andel Institute for Research<br />

(no longer Van Andel Research<br />

Institute)<br />

• Van Andel Institute for Education<br />

(no longer Van Andel Education<br />

Institute)<br />

• Van Andel Institute Graduate<br />

School<br />

Please note: For legal purposes,<br />

such as applying for grants or other<br />

funding, our organization name<br />

remains Van Andel Research Institute.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

1996<br />

5


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

DR. LUIS TOMATIS<br />

1996 Dr. Luis Tomatis appointed first<br />

president <strong>of</strong> VAI<br />

Dr. Luis Tomatis was a driving force in bringing VAI to<br />

life. Originally from Argentina, he was an energetic<br />

advocate for Grand Rapids. Tomatis was influential in<br />

creating and maintaining the environment that enabled<br />

the Institute to thrive and the Medical Mile to grow up<br />

around us.<br />

After joining the Institute in 1996, Tomatis helped<br />

recruit top-tier scientific talent to establish VAI’s first<br />

Board <strong>of</strong> Scientific Advisors and appointed Nobel<br />

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

After serving as VAI’s founding president from<br />

1996 to 2001, he went on to become the director <strong>of</strong><br />

medical affairs for the Richard M. DeVos Family.<br />

A cardiothoracic surgeon, Tomatis was a former chief <strong>of</strong><br />

cardiovascular surgery at Spectrum Health and an MSU<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> cardiac surgery. He won numerous awards,<br />

volunteered for organizations like the American Heart<br />

Association and the Grand Rapids Symphony, and<br />

arranged for invaluable medical equipment to be sent<br />

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

DR. GORDON VAN WYLEN<br />

1996 Dr. Gordon Van Wylen appointed first<br />

director <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute<br />

for Education<br />

As one <strong>of</strong> VAI’s original trustees, Dr. Gordon Van Wylen<br />

was instrumental in establishing the early programs<br />

<strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute for Education and created the<br />

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

vision in action through the programs we are developing<br />

and implementing today, 25 years later.<br />

A man <strong>of</strong> immense scientific knowledge, education,<br />

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

educator and administrator. He served as dean <strong>of</strong><br />

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

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

inaugural director <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute for Education.<br />

Prior to his death on Nov. 5, 2020, at the age <strong>of</strong> 100,<br />

Van Wylen generously devoted his time and talent to<br />

numerous other organizations. He was widely regarded as<br />

a thoughtful, visionary, kind and respectful leader.<br />

(LEFT TO RIGHT) RALPH HAUENSTEIN, PETER COOK,<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL & JOHN KENNEDY<br />

1996 The first Board <strong>of</strong> Trustees for<br />

Van Andel Institute is established<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Oct. 16, 1996, to present<br />

Peter C. Cook<br />

Oct. 16, 1996, to April 14, 2008<br />

Ralph W. Hauenstein<br />

Oct. 16, 1996, to April 14, 2008<br />

John C. Kennedy<br />

Oct. 20, 2003, to present<br />

Tomatis passed away on Sept. 29, 2020, leaving behind<br />

an incredible legacy for VAI, West Michigan and the<br />

world <strong>of</strong> biomedical research.<br />

6<br />

1996


1996 The first Board <strong>of</strong> Scientific Advisors for Van Andel Institute for Research is established<br />

All five members* <strong>of</strong> this first Board were esteemed scientists who were, or later became, Nobel Laureates:<br />

Michael S. Brown, M.D. — Chairman<br />

Director, Jonsson Center for Molecular Genetics<br />

The University <strong>of</strong> Texas Southwestern Medical Center<br />

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1985<br />

Joseph L. Goldstein, M.D.<br />

Chairman, Department <strong>of</strong> Molecular Genetics<br />

The University <strong>of</strong> Texas Southwestern Medical Center<br />

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1985<br />

(LEFT TO RIGHT) FIRST ROW<br />

(SEATED):<br />

DR. LUIS TOMATIS,<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL &<br />

DR. MICHAEL S. BROWN<br />

SECOND ROW (STANDING):<br />

CASEY WONDERGEM,<br />

DR. DANIEL NATHANS,<br />

DR. JOSEPH L. GOLDSTEIN,<br />

DR. RALPH BLOCKSMA,<br />

DR. CHARLES PIPPENGER &<br />

SARA-ANN DETERMAN<br />

THIRD ROW (STANDING):<br />

PETER COOK,<br />

DR. PHILLIP SHARP,<br />

RALPH HAUENSTEIN,<br />

DR. RICHARD AXEL,<br />

BILL NICHOLSON &<br />

DR. GORDON VAN WYLEN<br />

Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D.<br />

Institute Pr<strong>of</strong>essor, Department <strong>of</strong> Biology<br />

Massachusetts Institute <strong>of</strong> Technology<br />

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1993<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

Richard Axel, M.D.<br />

Co-Director, Mortimer B. Zuckerman Institute Mind Brain<br />

Behavior Institute<br />

Columbia University<br />

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2004<br />

Daniel Nathans, M.D., 1928-1999<br />

University Pr<strong>of</strong>essor, Department <strong>of</strong> Molecular Biology and<br />

Genetics<br />

Johns Hopkins University<br />

Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute<br />

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1978<br />

*Titles listed reflect those currently,<br />

or most recently, held.<br />

1996<br />

7


1997 First national symposium for educators held<br />

The year following VAI’s founding, Van Andel Institute for<br />

Education hosted its first national symposium for educators.<br />

School principals and superintendents gathered to discuss<br />

education trends and collaborate on ways to improve<br />

classroom instruction.<br />

In the more than two decades since, Van Andel Institute for<br />

Education continues to <strong>of</strong>fer a wealth <strong>of</strong> knowledge from<br />

which teachers and administrators can draw. The Institute<br />

still hosts an annual symposium for educators, Science on the<br />

Grand, and our science programs for students and teachers<br />

have grown by leaps and bounds. Our goal remains much<br />

the same as it was in those early days: bolstering K–12<br />

science education to inspire the scientists <strong>of</strong> tomorrow by<br />

creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical<br />

thinking thrive.<br />

1998 Groundbreaking jumpstarts growth <strong>of</strong><br />

VAI, Medical Mile<br />

Plans to construct a permanent home for the Institute<br />

leapt forward on May 20, 1998. On a plot <strong>of</strong> land at the<br />

corner <strong>of</strong> Bostwick Avenue and Michigan Street, where a<br />

nurse’s dormitory once stood, VAI’s founders broke<br />

ground on the first phase <strong>of</strong> construction. VAI Founder<br />

Jay Van Andel, Chairman and CEO David Van Andel,<br />

Founding Research Director Dr. George Vande Woude,<br />

Founding President Dr. Luis Tomatis and Founding Chair<br />

<strong>of</strong> VAI’s Board <strong>of</strong> Scientific Advisors Dr. Michael S. Brown<br />

plunged shovels into the ground in a ceremonial start to<br />

the work (photo at right).<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

VAI’s construction spurred tremendous growth on Grand<br />

Rapids’ Medical Mile, helping to position the city as an<br />

epicenter <strong>of</strong> world-class health care and medical research.<br />

Phase I construction took two years to complete; it was<br />

followed by groundbreaking for Phase II, which added<br />

research space, in 2007.<br />

VAI’s facilities were designed by famed architect Rafael<br />

Viñoly and feature plentiful windows and cascading glass<br />

ceilings that let in abundant natural light. Phase II is LEED<br />

Platinum-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council,<br />

meaning both design and construction incorporate<br />

sustainable features. These include a “green” ro<strong>of</strong> and ivy<br />

walls to reduce the “heat island” effect and a rainwater<br />

capture system.<br />

1998 Rafael Viñoly, selected as<br />

architect in 1997, presents model at<br />

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel<br />

VIÑOLY PRESENTS PLANS & MODELS<br />

FOR VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE<br />

8<br />

1997 – 1998


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

(LEFT TO RIGHT) DR. LUIS TOMATIS, JAY VAN ANDEL,<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL, DR. MICHAEL S. BROWN &<br />

DR. GEORGE VANDE WOUDE<br />

1998<br />

9


1999 Life Sciences Corridor and<br />

Medical Mile created<br />

On July 19, 1999, Gov. John Engler signed legislation to<br />

direct $1 billion over 20 years to the Life Sciences Corridor,<br />

a collaborative biotechnology research effort between<br />

Michigan State University, the University <strong>of</strong> Michigan,<br />

Van Andel Institute and Wayne State University.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

1999 Dr. George Vande Woude joins VAI<br />

as founding research director<br />

Dr. George Vande Woude was a titan <strong>of</strong> cancer research<br />

when he joined the fledgling Van Andel Institute as<br />

founding research director in 1999. With nearly three<br />

decades <strong>of</strong> experience building successful research<br />

programs from scratch at the National Cancer Institute,<br />

Vande Woude immediately set to work giving shape and<br />

substance to the young institute’s research programs.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> Vande Woude’s most lauded breakthroughs was<br />

the 1984 discovery <strong>of</strong> the human MET oncogene, which<br />

is a major driver <strong>of</strong> cancer and a target for personalized<br />

cancer therapies. Throughout his prolific career, Vande<br />

Woude authored more than 300 published, peerreviewed<br />

scientific papers — a reflection <strong>of</strong> his vast<br />

contributions to science and our understanding <strong>of</strong><br />

cancer. Though Vande Woude passed away in 2021, his<br />

scientific legacy will continue to power discoveries in<br />

cancer research now and far into the future.<br />

That same year, VAI began research in temporary lab<br />

space at Butterworth Hospital. Thus began the creation <strong>of</strong><br />

Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile, a health sciences and medical<br />

corridor that serves as a source for innovative biomedical<br />

research, cutting-edge clinical care and economic growth<br />

in West Michigan. The Medical Mile saw explosive growth<br />

after VAI’s groundbreaking in 1998 and inclusion in the Life<br />

Sciences Corridor, which now comprises the following:<br />

2000 Grand Rapids Community College Calkins<br />

Science Center<br />

2003 Grand Valley State University Cook-DeVos Center for<br />

Health Sciences<br />

2004 Spectrum Health Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center<br />

2008 Spectrum Health Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion<br />

2008 Grand Rapids Women’s Health<br />

2009 Mercy Health Hauenstein Neuroscience Center<br />

2010 Michigan State University College <strong>of</strong> Human Medicine<br />

Secchia Center<br />

2011 Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital<br />

2017–present Michigan State University Grand Rapids<br />

Innovation Park<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP LEFT) DR. GEORGE<br />

VANDE WOUDE; GOV. JOHN ENGLER SIGNS LIFE<br />

SCIENCES CORRIDOR LEGISLATION IN THE PRESENCE OF<br />

REPRESENTATIVES FROM COLLABORATING INSTITUTIONS;<br />

AERIAL SHOT OF VAI (CENTER) IN ITS PLACE ON THE<br />

MEDICAL MILE, 2014; AERIAL VIEW OF GRAND RAPIDS<br />

PRIOR TO THE EXISTENCE OF VAI<br />

10<br />

1999


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

1999 – 2000<br />

11


1999 Founding investigators join VAI<br />

2000 Van Andel Institute celebrates Grand Opening<br />

Nearly two years after the groundbreaking for Van Andel Institute, Phase I was<br />

complete. A grand opening ceremony was held on May 10, 2000, at the new<br />

169,000-square-foot building to celebrate a dream turned tangible. Attendees<br />

included former President Gerald Ford, then-Gov. John Engler and others.<br />

Dr. Arthur S. Alberts,<br />

Laboratory <strong>of</strong> Cell<br />

Structure and Signal<br />

Integration<br />

Dr. Han-Mo Koo,<br />

Laboratory <strong>of</strong> Cancer<br />

Pharmacogenetics<br />

Father and son Jay and David Van Andel shared a particularly powerful moment<br />

as they conducted the ceremonial ribbon cutting. The founder's movements<br />

had slowed as a result <strong>of</strong> Parkinson's disease, but David Van Andel ensured that<br />

the ribbon cutting was not rushed and that his father had the opportunity to<br />

experience this historic moment for the Institute he helped bring into existence.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

Dr. Brian Cao,<br />

Laboratory <strong>of</strong><br />

Antibody Technology<br />

Dr. Nick Duesbery,<br />

Laboratory <strong>of</strong> Cancer<br />

and Developmental<br />

Cell Biology<br />

Dr. Jim Resau,<br />

Laboratory <strong>of</strong><br />

Analytical, Cellular and<br />

Molecular Microscopy;<br />

Laboratory <strong>of</strong><br />

Molecular Diagnostics<br />

Dr. Craig P. Webb,<br />

Laboratory <strong>of</strong> Tumor<br />

Metastasis and<br />

Angiogenesis<br />

"I was watching a point in history that was never going to be repeated again,"<br />

David Van Andel said. "And I was glad that I took the time to wait."<br />

Bryn Eagleson,<br />

Vivarium and<br />

Transgenics Core<br />

Dr. Bart Williams,<br />

Laboratory <strong>of</strong><br />

Cell Signaling and<br />

Carcinogenesis<br />

12<br />

1999 – 2000


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP): VAI FOUNDER JAY VAN ANDEL & HIS SON & VAI CHAIRMAN & CEO DAVID VAN ANDEL CUT THE RIBBON AT THE INSTITUTE’S PHASE I GRAND<br />

OPENING, 2000; FORMER PRESIDENT GERALD R. FORD, JAY VAN ANDEL & DAVID VAN ANDEL; JAY VAN ANDEL; DAVID VAN ANDEL ADDRESSING THE CROWD AT THE GRAND<br />

OPENING; SIGNED PHASE I BEAM PRIOR TO PLACEMENT; JAY & DAVID VAN ANDEL CELEBRATE VAI’S GRAND OPENING<br />

2000<br />

13


2000 Van Andel Institute for Research<br />

holds its first scientific symposium<br />

2001 VAI holds first <strong>Hope</strong> on the Hill Gala<br />

This signature event celebrates those who have helped<br />

make big strides at the Institute: donors, the community,<br />

and the scientists and educators they support.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2001 Dr. Gordon Van Harn appointed<br />

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

Education<br />

Dr. Van Harn joined Education’s Board <strong>of</strong> Trustees in<br />

2000 and served with distinction as director from 2001<br />

to 2009. Under his leadership, Education expanded its<br />

programs across new spectrums <strong>of</strong> learning, including<br />

graduate education in cellular and molecular biology.<br />

Van Harn passed away on April 3, 2018.<br />

2003 VAI hosts its first cohort <strong>of</strong><br />

undergraduate interns<br />

DR. GORDON VAN HARN JAY VAN ANDEL BETTY VAN ANDEL<br />

2004 This year sees the passing <strong>of</strong> VAI Founders Jay and Betty Van Andel<br />

Founders Jay and Betty Van Andel left behind an<br />

impactful legacy for their family and for the city <strong>of</strong><br />

Grand Rapids.<br />

Both Jay and Betty Van Andel were born in Grand<br />

Rapids, in 1924 and 1921, respectively, and attended<br />

Grand Rapids Christian High School, followed by Calvin<br />

College. Jay Van Andel went on to co-found Amway<br />

Corporation in 1959 along with childhood friend<br />

Richard DeVos, and Betty put her passion into her<br />

work as a teacher and her philanthropic efforts while<br />

unwaveringly supporting her husband’s work.<br />

Wed in 1952, the pair enjoyed more than 50 years <strong>of</strong><br />

marriage. Through the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation,<br />

they contributed to the work <strong>of</strong> nonpr<strong>of</strong>its, hospitals,<br />

schools and other worthwhile organizations, including VAI.<br />

Betty Van Andel passed away on Jan. 18, 2004, at age 82,<br />

after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Jay Van Andel<br />

passed away later that year, on Dec. 7, 2004, at the age <strong>of</strong><br />

80. Their passing saddened the family and so many others,<br />

and they have been sorely missed.<br />

14<br />

In 2021, VAI boasted a 30-student cohort in the Summer<br />

Internship Program.<br />

2004 The first external estate gift is<br />

received at VAI<br />

2004 VAI hosts in Grand Rapids the annual meeting <strong>of</strong> the Association <strong>of</strong> Independent<br />

Research Institutes, <strong>of</strong> which it is a member<br />

AIRI is an association <strong>of</strong> independent, not-for-pr<strong>of</strong>it biomedical and behavioral research institutes whose mission is to<br />

enhance its members’ ability to improve human health and advance knowledge.<br />

2000 – 2004


LIFE BY ARTIST DALE CHIHULY VAI FOR EDUCATION PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS COUTURE FOR A CURE, 2006<br />

2005 Chihuly unveils Life sculpture at VAI<br />

Following the passing <strong>of</strong> his wife and fellow VAI Co-Founder<br />

Betty Van Andel in 2004, Jay Van Andel commissioned worldrenowned<br />

artist Dale Chihuly to create a towering sculpture<br />

in Betty’s memory. The sculpture, titled Life, features 1,100<br />

hand-blown glass spheres composed in a form which<br />

conjures the DNA double helix. The 14-foot, 1,200-pound<br />

work spirals down from the ceiling <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s lobby.<br />

It was installed and dedicated in October 2005 during the<br />

Celebration <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong> gala, and serves as a reminder <strong>of</strong> VAI’s<br />

mission to improve human health. Artwork © 2021 Chihuly<br />

Studio / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York<br />

2005 Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

is founded and receives charter from the<br />

State <strong>of</strong> Michigan to confer master’s and<br />

Ph.D. degrees<br />

2005 Education launches weekend<br />

science programs<br />

Student and teacher programming sits at the heart <strong>of</strong><br />

Van Andel Institute for Education’s goal to inspire the<br />

next generation <strong>of</strong> problem-solvers. In 2005, VAI brought<br />

students’ loved ones into the fold with the launch <strong>of</strong> Out-<strong>of</strong>-<br />

School K–12 Science on Saturday programs, known today as<br />

Science on Saturday.<br />

The idea was simple: Instead <strong>of</strong> confining science education<br />

to weekdays, Science on Saturday opened up the weekends<br />

as a new world <strong>of</strong> possibility and familial involvement in the<br />

learning process. Each student brought a parent or guardian<br />

with them to the event, during which they worked together<br />

to solve fun, meaningful science problems. This teamwork<br />

added a powerful dimension to students’ experience with<br />

the program; adult participants learned a thing or two<br />

themselves and got to enjoy helping their bright, inquisitive<br />

students solve scientific problems in a laboratory setting.<br />

2006 Carol Van Andel, executive director<br />

<strong>of</strong> the David and Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation and wife <strong>of</strong> VAI Chairman<br />

and CEO David Van Andel, introduces<br />

the inaugural Couture for a Cure fashion<br />

presentation<br />

The dream <strong>of</strong> Carol Van Andel and Leigh’s founder<br />

Rebecca Wierda, Couture for a Cure showcases<br />

extraordinary fashion while raising support for the<br />

Institute’s research and education initiatives. The<br />

glamorous event was first held at Leigh’s when VAI was<br />

just a young organization, and is now held at the Institute.<br />

Each fall, guests are treated to exclusive looks from Leigh’s<br />

and the year’s featured designer. In 2006, the designers<br />

were Brian Wolk and Claude Morais, <strong>of</strong> the critically<br />

acclaimed Ruffian label. As the Institute’s stature has<br />

grown internationally, Couture has evolved from a small<br />

fundraiser into West Michigan’s top fashion event.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2005 Winterfest Celebration, one <strong>of</strong> VAI’s<br />

signature events, is held for the first time<br />

It is one <strong>of</strong> our most popular fundraising events, and<br />

throughout the life <strong>of</strong> the event, sponsors, donors and<br />

guests have helped raise more than $1.5 million in support<br />

<strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s research at the Institute.<br />

Up next: A look at VAI Events<br />

2005 – 2006<br />

15


Winterfest Celebration<br />

First held in 2005, Winterfest Celebration<br />

is an annual wintertime extravaganza<br />

featuring culinary creations, delectable<br />

drinks and exceptional entertainment,<br />

all to support VAI’s groundbreaking<br />

Parkinson’s disease research. One <strong>of</strong><br />

the Institute’s most popular events,<br />

Winterfest has raised more than<br />

$1.5 million in its history.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP)<br />

DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL, 2008;<br />

DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN, 2017;<br />

GEORGE JR. & MISSY SHARPE &<br />

CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL, 2020;<br />

WINTERFEST GUESTS IN FEB. 2020;<br />

BRIAN VANDER ARK OF THE VERVE<br />

PIPE, 2021; DAVID VAN ANDEL, 2017;<br />

CHRIS & JIM RESAU & TED VECCHIO,<br />

2008<br />

16<br />

2005 – 2021


Carol Van Andel Angel <strong>of</strong> Excellence Dinner & Award Presentation<br />

The Carol Van Andel Angel <strong>of</strong> Excellence<br />

Award is presented to individuals who<br />

have demonstrated a strong commitment<br />

to VAI’s mission through service and<br />

philanthropy. First presented in 2013, this<br />

annual award celebrates the extraordinary<br />

efforts <strong>of</strong> philanthropists, volunteers and<br />

advocates, whose undeniable generosity and<br />

determination support the Institute’s ability<br />

to improve the health and enhance the lives<br />

<strong>of</strong> current and future generations.<br />

The list <strong>of</strong> all award winners can be found on<br />

page 34.<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP) AWARDS<br />

PRESENTATION, 2018; DAVID & CAROL<br />

VAN ANDEL, 2017; SARAH ROLLMAN,<br />

CHRISTINE BOELKINS, CAROL VAN ANDEL &<br />

VICKY LUDEMA, 2013; INAUGURAL AWARDS<br />

FROM 2013; JERRY DEBLAAY, CAROL<br />

VAN ANDEL & KAREN DEBLAAY, 2019; CAROL<br />

VAN ANDEL PRESENTS THE 2021 AWARDS<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2013 – 2021<br />

17


Design & Discovery<br />

The inaugural Design & Discovery was held in<br />

2021 at the legendary Haworth headquarters<br />

and showroom in Holland, Michigan. Merging<br />

the inspiration <strong>of</strong> modernist furniture<br />

design with the elegant shapes and colors<br />

<strong>of</strong> contemporary fashion, Design & Discovery<br />

seeks to excite the imagination and showcase<br />

the power <strong>of</strong> the creative spirit while raising<br />

philanthropic support for the Institute.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP)<br />

REBECCA WIERDA & CAROL VAN ANDEL;<br />

MODELS ON THE RUNWAY; FERRARIS<br />

ON-SITE AT HAWORTH; JEFF CAULEY<br />

& LAUREN MENDELSON; INAUGURAL<br />

DESIGN & DISCOVERY HELD AT HAWORTH<br />

HEADQUARTERS & SHOWROOM<br />

18<br />

2021


VAI Golf Outing<br />

Held annually at the Wuskowhan Players Club in West<br />

Olive, Michigan, Van Andel Institute’s Golf Outing brings<br />

together golfers, donors and VAI supporters <strong>of</strong> all skill<br />

levels in support <strong>of</strong> research and education programs<br />

at the Institute. The event has become a yearly favorite<br />

and was first held at Wuskowhan in 2008. Each<br />

year, guests are treated to the fun <strong>of</strong> playing<br />

18 holes, remarks from VAI leadership and special<br />

guest speakers, and the chance to close out the<br />

summer season in a beautiful setting.<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP) DAVID & CAROL<br />

VAN ANDEL, 2008; LYNNE JARMAN-JOHNSON, 2020;<br />

DR. RONALD GRIFKA, BRUCE COURTADE, TIMOTHY<br />

WILLIAMS & WAYMAN BRITT, 2021; SUSAN SHAW,<br />

MADELON HASSBERGER, CAROL VAN ANDEL & BETH<br />

VAN PORTFLIET, 2021; PLAYERS WARM UP, 2020;<br />

JARED VELDHEER, KYLE VAN ANDEL, DAVID VAN ANDEL<br />

& JACK DOLES, 2020<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2008 – 2021<br />

19


Couture for a Cure<br />

From a spark <strong>of</strong> inspiration came Couture for<br />

a Cure, the brainchild <strong>of</strong> Carol Van Andel and<br />

Leigh’s founder Rebecca Wierda. This signature<br />

fall event reminds us that science and art are<br />

intertwined, and fashion is a beautiful way to<br />

showcase that connection. Each year, Couture<br />

brings people together around a popular<br />

theme and gorgeous displays <strong>of</strong> fashion, while<br />

sharing the Institute’s incredible work and the<br />

inspiring people at the heart <strong>of</strong> our mission.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP) A MODEL<br />

WALKS THE RUNWAY AT INAUGURAL EVENT;<br />

CAROL VAN ANDEL; SCOTT & REBECCA<br />

WIERDA & CAROL & DAVID VAN ANDEL;<br />

MODELS ON THE RUNWAY IN 2017; A FLIRTY,<br />

ADVENTUROUS LOOK ON THE RUNWAY IN<br />

2019; MARANDA, REBECCA WIERDA, CAROL<br />

VAN ANDEL & CANDACE MATTHEWS, 2020<br />

2006 –- 2021<br />

20


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

Initially named the Celebration <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong>, <strong>Hope</strong><br />

on the Hill celebrates VAI’s mission and the<br />

continued support <strong>of</strong> the community in our<br />

work. This event doesn’t apologize for being<br />

on the whimsical side, because in doing<br />

so, it draws attention to the Institute’s farreaching<br />

goals and long-standing resolve to<br />

impact health and humanity. <strong>Hope</strong> on the Hill<br />

celebrated its 20th anniversary via virtual<br />

event in 2020.<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP) DAVID &<br />

CAROL VAN ANDEL CELEBRATE THE 20TH<br />

ANNIVERSARY OF HOPE ON THE HILL, 2020;<br />

LANDAU EUGENE MURPHY JR. PERFORMING,<br />

2016; THE 2018 GALA TOOK ON A KENTUCKY<br />

DERBY FEEL; LIGHT BALANCE PERFORMING,<br />

2018; A WONDROUS GALA IN 2019; DAVID &<br />

CAROL VAN ANDEL WITH THE FORTE<br />

TENORS, 2015<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2001 – 2021<br />

21


Grand Rapids Griffins Purple Community Game<br />

Part <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute’s continued success<br />

is thanks to the support <strong>of</strong> the Grand Rapids<br />

community, including the Grand Rapids Griffins<br />

hockey team. First held in the 2011–2012<br />

season, the Griffins Purple Community Game<br />

brings together hockey fans and VAI supporters<br />

to enjoy the sport and raise awareness and<br />

funds for the Institute’s work. In the decade<br />

since our partnership bloomed, the Griffins<br />

Purple Community Game has raised $273,488.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP) TWO<br />

YOUNG FANS DECKED OUT IN SUPPORT OF<br />

VAI, 2012; GRIFFINS PLAYERS DON PURPLE<br />

JERSEYS DURING THE ANNUAL GAME, 2019;<br />

VAI PURPLE COMMUNITY PURPLE VAN, 2018;<br />

SPECIAL GUEST ERIN DEAN GETS READY FOR<br />

CEREMONIAL PUCK DROP, 2019<br />

22<br />

2011 – 2021


Consumers Credit Union Purple Community 5K<br />

More than just a race, the annual<br />

Consumers Credit Union Purple<br />

Community 5K brings together families<br />

from across West Michigan to support<br />

biomedical research and science<br />

education at Van Andel Institute. Many<br />

who run the race do so in honor or<br />

remembrance <strong>of</strong> loved ones who have<br />

been touched by cancer, Parkinson’s or<br />

other diseases. The event has raised a<br />

lifetime total <strong>of</strong> more than $210,000 in<br />

support <strong>of</strong> our work at VAI.<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP)<br />

RUNNERS CELEBRATE & SHOW THEIR<br />

SUPPORT FOR THE CAUSE, 2016;<br />

RUNNERS KICK OFF THE RACE, 2019;<br />

CROWD GATHERS FOR THE PLEDGE OF<br />

ALLEGIANCE AT THE INAUGURAL EVENT,<br />

2015; CAROL VAN ANDEL CHATS WITH<br />

ANOTHER 5K RUNNER, 2015; FINISHER<br />

MEDALS, 2019; THE WHOLE FAMILY<br />

TURNS OUT FOR THE CAUSE, 2015;<br />

PARTICIPANTS CROSS THE FINISH LINE<br />

TOGETHER, 2019<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2015 – 2021<br />

23


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

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

Members <strong>of</strong> VAI’s Board <strong>of</strong> Governors<br />

serve as the ambassadors who share<br />

our mission, vision and important<br />

work with others to help gain further<br />

support to advance the Institute’s<br />

efforts and support the Institute<br />

financially. A Board <strong>of</strong> Governors<br />

Dinner has been held annually to keep<br />

members up to date with research<br />

and educational advancements<br />

underway at VAI and connected with<br />

those spearheading our efforts at the<br />

Institute.<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP) CAROL<br />

VAN ANDEL, 2019; DAVID VAN ANDEL,<br />

2017; DAVID VAN ANDEL, 1998; BOARD<br />

OF GOVERNORS LUNCH GUESTS, 1998;<br />

DR. PETER A. JONES, 2019; BOARD OF<br />

GOVERNORS DINNER GUESTS, 2018;<br />

INAUGURAL BOARD OF GOVERNORS<br />

MEETING, 1998<br />

24<br />

2002 – 2021


JBoard Ambassadors<br />

VAI’s JBoard Ambassadors are a group <strong>of</strong><br />

vibrant young pr<strong>of</strong>essionals in West Michigan<br />

who seek to stay current with and support<br />

our work at the Institute. Members are<br />

invited to health-science forums, luncheons<br />

and mixers throughout the year, where<br />

they can hear about the latest research and<br />

educational innovations at VAI straight from<br />

those who are making it happen.<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP) GRILL<br />

TO-GO AT JBOARD MEMBER MIXER, 2011;<br />

JBOARD MEMBER MIXER, 2011; UNIQUE<br />

SPREAD FROM GRILL TO-GO, 2011; SUMMER<br />

MEMBER MIXER HELD AT HOUSE OF RACHEL<br />

& MIKE MRAZ, 2021; JBOARD MEMBERS<br />

TOURING PHASE II CONSTRUCTION, 2009;<br />

CAROL VAN ANDEL, 2011<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2009 – 2021<br />

25


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

26<br />

2006 Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg appointed dean <strong>of</strong> Van Andel<br />

Institute Graduate School<br />

In 2006, VAI solidified its commitment to<br />

gathering some <strong>of</strong> the world’s best and<br />

brightest under its ro<strong>of</strong> and to training<br />

the next generation <strong>of</strong> scientists. That<br />

year, the Institute appointed Dr. Steven J.<br />

Triezenberg as founding dean <strong>of</strong> Van Andel<br />

Institute Graduate School and signed an<br />

agreement with Michigan State University<br />

to support the creation <strong>of</strong> MSU’s medical<br />

school in downtown Grand Rapids. These<br />

commitments remain as strong as ever<br />

15 years later.<br />

Triezenberg earned a bachelor’s in biology<br />

and education from Calvin College in<br />

Grand Rapids and a Ph.D. in cell and<br />

molecular biology from the University <strong>of</strong><br />

Michigan. He completed his postdoctoral<br />

research at the Carnegie Institution<br />

<strong>of</strong> Washington before returning to the<br />

Great Lakes State as a faculty member<br />

in the Department <strong>of</strong> Biochemistry and<br />

Molecular Biology at MSU — a role he held<br />

for more than 18 years.<br />

His efforts were central to developing the<br />

Institute’s Ph.D. program in molecular<br />

and cellular biology, a research-intensive,<br />

problem-based program that immerses<br />

students in a rigorous scientific environment<br />

from the start. The program received<br />

accreditation in 2013 and was reaffirmed in<br />

2018 (see p. 33 for more information).<br />

Triezenberg also served as the director <strong>of</strong><br />

Van Andel Institute for Education from 2009<br />

to 2015, building on the efforts <strong>of</strong> former<br />

Education directors Dr. Gordon Van Wylen<br />

and Dr. Gordon Van Harn. In addition to<br />

his academic leadership, Triezenberg is a<br />

respected authority in viral biology. For<br />

31 years, his lab explored the molecular<br />

control systems that allow viral infections<br />

to progress. His discoveries about herpes<br />

simplex virus opened new possibilities for<br />

antiviral drug development and revealed<br />

new insights into how human cells control<br />

gene expression.<br />

Under Triezenberg’s remarkable leadership,<br />

the Graduate School has enjoyed steady<br />

growth and continues to strengthen its<br />

reputation as a top-tier training environment<br />

for biomedical research leaders.<br />

2007 Groundbreaking ceremony held for Phase II<br />

building expansion<br />

2007 First students enter the Graduate School<br />

2007 VAI first hosts the West Michigan Regional Undergraduate<br />

Science Research Conference (WMRUGS)<br />

This conference brings together students and faculty from regional colleges for two days<br />

<strong>of</strong> learning and networking. Students present their work in a pr<strong>of</strong>essional setting; talk<br />

with scientists and graduate school recruiters from Midwest research universities; and<br />

hear stimulating talks on current trends in biology, chemistry, physics and more.<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT TOP LEFT) DR. STEVEN J. TRIEZENBERG; ARCHITECT RAFAEL<br />

VIÑOLY PRESENTS VAI PHASE II MODEL TO DAVID VAN ANDEL; DAVID VAN ANDEL AT<br />

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY OF PHASE II, 2007; VIEW OF CONSTRUCTION FROM THE<br />

SOUTHWEST; VIEW OF CONSTRUCTION FROM DUE SOUTH<br />

2006 – 2007


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2007<br />

27


2009 Phase II construction completed, adding research<br />

and <strong>of</strong>fice space<br />

On Dec. 8, 2009, Van Andel Institute celebrated the grand opening <strong>of</strong> its eight-story,<br />

$178 million Phase II expansion. This addition to Phase I added 240,000 square feet to<br />

the Institute and generated both economic and scientific opportunities by nearly tripling<br />

research space. It also created the potential to support a $125 million annual research<br />

operation.<br />

Phase II continued the vision <strong>of</strong> architect Rafael Viñoly and provided Institute scientists,<br />

educators and staff with beautifully designed lab and <strong>of</strong>fice spaces where they could<br />

continue their groundbreaking work.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2008 “Kids’ Cancer Stories” comes to VAI<br />

In 2008, Kelley Peel had an idea. Peel, a counselor for Reeths-Puffer Schools in Muskegon,<br />

Michigan, was supporting five students whose mothers had been diagnosed with cancer.<br />

To help the students process the tough emotions they were feeling, Peel asked them to<br />

write about their experiences and accompany their words with illustrations.<br />

The result was a book, titled by the student authors: “Kid’s Cancer Storys: The Story <strong>of</strong><br />

5 Kids Whose Moms Have Cancer,” a poignant description <strong>of</strong> students learning to cope<br />

with a parent’s cancer diagnosis. The fifth- and sixth-grade students describe their own<br />

experiences and <strong>of</strong>fer personal suggestions for readers who might one day face the<br />

same trials.<br />

We had the honor <strong>of</strong> hosting the student authors at the Institute in 2008. VAI purchased<br />

copies <strong>of</strong> the book for all scientists, educators and staff, which were then signed by the<br />

students during their visit. Proceeds from all sales <strong>of</strong> the books were donated to the<br />

Institute’s cancer research, becoming one <strong>of</strong> our first <strong>of</strong>ficial community fundraisers and<br />

giving rise to the creation <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute Purple Community in 2009.<br />

(CLOCKWISE, STARTING AT LEFT) DAVID VAN ANDEL WITH THE AUTHORS OF “KIDS’<br />

CANCER STORIES,” 2008; DAVID VAN ANDEL AT PHASE II GRAND OPENING, 2009;<br />

SIGNED PHASE II BEAM IS PLACED; DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL ARE PRESENTED WITH A<br />

PAINTING OF VAI AT PHASE II GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION; PHASE II RIBBON CUTTING<br />

28<br />

2008 – 2009


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2009<br />

29


2009 VAI hosts first Origins <strong>of</strong> Cancer symposium<br />

The event brings together students, scientists and medical pr<strong>of</strong>essionals to discuss the<br />

latest breakthroughs in cancer research.<br />

2009 Dr. Jeffrey Trent named the second president and director<br />

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

2009 Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg appointed Director <strong>of</strong> Education<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2009 Van Andel Institute establishes Purple Community, a<br />

grassroots community awareness and fundraising program<br />

Community support is crucial to Van Andel Institute’s mission, and volunteers are a<br />

key part <strong>of</strong> our presence in Grand Rapids and the greater West Michigan area. In the<br />

late 2000s, as volunteer numbers and events grew, VAI worked to focus the efforts <strong>of</strong><br />

its growing volunteer base and externally hosted events. The answer was Van Andel<br />

Institute Purple Community.<br />

First launched as Community for a Cure, this program took on its current name in<br />

the early 2010s as a tribute to VAI Co-Founder Betty Van Andel, whose favorite color<br />

was purple. It is also a nod to the ubiquitous purple ribbon <strong>of</strong>ten used to represent<br />

all cancers.<br />

VAI Purple Community event hosts dedicate their events and funds to VAI in support<br />

<strong>of</strong> our groundbreaking research and education initiatives. Volunteers <strong>of</strong>fer their<br />

assistance in a multitude <strong>of</strong> ways: volunteering at the Institute’s signature events,<br />

bringing new fundraising ideas to the table, organizing event materials at the Institute,<br />

and more.<br />

Since its inception, VAI Purple Community has hosted and supported 1,211 events<br />

and raised nearly $4.6 million. Many are still cherished annual events, including the<br />

Bee Brave 5K, the Grand Rapids Griffins Purple Community Game, the Duncan Lake Middle<br />

School Cancer Walk, a variety <strong>of</strong> memorial golf outings, and many more.<br />

2010 David and Carol Van Andel rededicate newly renovated<br />

Crescent Park, which overlooks downtown Grand Rapids from an<br />

eastern bluff in the heart <strong>of</strong> the city’s Medical Mile<br />

Through nonpr<strong>of</strong>it organization Friends <strong>of</strong> Crescent Park, the park was renovated and<br />

transformed into a quiet green space that celebrates survivors <strong>of</strong> cancer and other<br />

diseases who have found hope in the medical and research facilities that surround<br />

the park.<br />

The best part? All funds raised through VAI Purple Community events go directly<br />

toward research and education efforts at VAI — right where they’ll make the biggest<br />

impact. We are immensely grateful for the thousands <strong>of</strong> people in our community<br />

who have made a difference in our mission through their participation in VAI<br />

Purple Community.<br />

(STARTING AT TOP LEFT) DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL (CENTER) HELP KICK OFF THE HOPE<br />

COLLEGE PURPLE COMMUNITY SOCCER GAME, 2009; DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL AT<br />

CRESCENT PARK MEMORIAL FOR FOUNDERS JAY & BETTY VAN ANDEL, 2010<br />

30<br />

2009 – 2010


2011 VAI forms a partnership with the<br />

United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in<br />

an effort to recruit and train the next<br />

generation <strong>of</strong> researchers in the<br />

biomedical sciences<br />

2012 Dr. Patrik Brundin joins VAI, launches Parkinson’s research efforts<br />

Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease. In the years since,<br />

Brundin has recruited an outstanding team <strong>of</strong> scientists<br />

to VAI, including experts in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s,<br />

psychiatric disorders and rare types <strong>of</strong> dementia. Their<br />

vast contributions are redefining what we know about<br />

these diseases and revealing new opportunities to<br />

develop therapies that slow or stop disease progression<br />

— something current treatments cannot do.<br />

2011 High School Journal Club taps into<br />

inquiry-based learning<br />

Inquiry-based learning is a powerful approach to education<br />

in which students engage in hands-on problem-solving by<br />

proposing theories and testing them. With the launch <strong>of</strong><br />

High School Journal Club in 2011, Van Andel Institute for<br />

Education made its first significant foray into this interactive<br />

style <strong>of</strong> instruction.<br />

High School Journal Club brings together students and<br />

teachers with VAI’s world-class scientists to engage in<br />

scientific discourse. The program emulates the ways in<br />

which scientists conduct their daily work: identifying a<br />

problem, hypothesizing about potential solutions, critically<br />

evaluating and testing evidence, and collaborating from<br />

start to finish. Students further hone their skills by<br />

reviewing current research from scientific journals.<br />

Today, the Institute also harnesses the power <strong>of</strong> inquirybased<br />

learning across its suite <strong>of</strong> student and teacher<br />

programs. The result is students who learn to think and<br />

act like scientists in the classroom, helping curiosity and<br />

creativity thrive and inspiring the next generation <strong>of</strong><br />

scientific leaders to tackle the problems <strong>of</strong> tomorrow.<br />

(STARTING AT TOP LEFT) STUDENTS IN HIGH SCHOOL<br />

JOURNAL CLUB, 2011; DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN &<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL, 2012<br />

When Parkinson’s disease expert and pioneering<br />

neuroscientist Dr. Patrik Brundin joined VAI in 2012, it was<br />

a realization <strong>of</strong> Founder Jay Van Andel’s vision: to bring<br />

breakthrough Parkinson’s research to Grand Rapids.<br />

Brundin had been recruited by VAI Chairman and CEO<br />

David Van Andel the year earlier. During their first<br />

conversations, the two established the foundations for a<br />

bright future and discovered a shared driving inspiration —<br />

finding a cure for a disease that had affected both <strong>of</strong> their<br />

fathers.<br />

Brundin hit the ground running upon his arrival at VAI,<br />

quickly establishing our neurodegenerative research group<br />

as well as the Institute’s flagship Parkinson’s symposium,<br />

As part <strong>of</strong> VAI’s commitment to improving human health,<br />

Brundin also helms the governing committee for one<br />

<strong>of</strong> VAI’s largest collaborations, the Cure Parkinson’s–<br />

Van Andel Institute International Linked Clinical Trials<br />

program. Since its inception in 2012, this global effort<br />

has launched 28 clinical trials into medications with the<br />

potential to impede disease progression.<br />

In 2020, Brundin became VAI’s deputy chief scientific<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficer and director <strong>of</strong> its newly formed Parkinson’s<br />

Disease Center. This new center serves as a hub for<br />

translating groundbreaking discoveries made in VAI’s<br />

labs into clinical trials. Together, VAI’s powerhouse<br />

combination <strong>of</strong> lab research and clinical translation<br />

provide boundless hope that new, more effective<br />

treatments are not far <strong>of</strong>f.<br />

In the time since Jay Van Andel articulated his vision<br />

for VAI, our understanding <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s has radically<br />

transformed. We now know that the disease starts<br />

years, or even decades, before the appearance <strong>of</strong><br />

movement related symptoms. We also know that it may<br />

have roots throughout the body, including in the gut<br />

and immune system. These discoveries have propelled<br />

us closer than ever to life-changing treatments — ones<br />

that could give people more years with fewer symptoms<br />

and a drastically improved quality <strong>of</strong> life.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2011 – 2012<br />

31


JVA Honorees<br />

Tom Isaacs: A grand vision<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN AT GRAND CHALLENGES IN PARKINSON’S DISEASE, 2012<br />

2012 VAI establishes the Grand Challenges in<br />

Parkinson’s Disease symposium<br />

When Dr. Patrik Brundin arrived at VAI in January 2012 to launch our Parkinson’s<br />

research program, one <strong>of</strong> his first acts was to establish Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s<br />

Disease, a symposium that brings together Parkinson’s experts to explore the latest<br />

research. The inaugural event took place that fall and included the presentation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

first Jay Van Andel Award for Outstanding Achievement in Parkinson’s Disease Research.<br />

This award is given annually to a scientist or scientists who have made outstanding<br />

contributions to Parkinson’s disease research and who have positively impacted human<br />

health. It honors the memory <strong>of</strong> VAI Founder Jay Van Andel, who battled Parkinson’s for<br />

a decade before his death in 2004.<br />

Today, Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease has grown into a multi-faceted event that<br />

routinely attracts hundreds <strong>of</strong> attendees from around the world. It has covered a host<br />

<strong>of</strong> critical issues in Parkinson’s research, including genetic factors, inflammation, clinical<br />

trials, disease-modifying therapies and the role <strong>of</strong> non-motor symptoms.<br />

In 2014, VAI and Cure Parkinson’s (formerly The Cure Parkinson’s Trust) added a critical<br />

new dimension to the event with the establishment <strong>of</strong> Rallying to the Challenge, a parallel<br />

meeting for people with Parkinson’s. Designed as a way to amplify the voices <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Parkinson’s community, Rallying to the Challenge has become a global touchpoint for<br />

people with Parkinson’s, advocates and care partners to connect, collaborate and<br />

provide valuable insights to scientists.<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL, DR. ANDREW<br />

SINGLETON & DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN, 2012<br />

Jay Van Andel Award for Outstanding<br />

Achievement in Parkinson’s Research<br />

Honorees include:<br />

2021 Ted Dawson, M.D.<br />

2020 Daniela Berg, M.D., &<br />

Ron Postuma, M.D., M.Sc.<br />

2019 Ellen Sidransky, M.D.<br />

2018 K. Ray Chaudhuri, M.D., FRCP, D.Sc.<br />

2017 J. William Langston, M.D.<br />

2016 Stanley Fahn, M.D.<br />

2015 Robert Nussbaum, M.D., &<br />

Maria Grazia Spillantini, Ph.D.,<br />

FMedSci, FRS<br />

2014 Andrew John Lees, M.D., FRCP,<br />

FMedSci<br />

2013 Alim-Louis Benabid, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

2012 Andrew Singleton, Ph.D.<br />

As co-founder <strong>of</strong> Cure Parkinson’s and a<br />

passionate advocate for the Parkinson’s<br />

community, Tom Isaacs recognized the<br />

importance <strong>of</strong> ensuring that people with<br />

Parkinson’s had a voice in research. This<br />

fervent belief manifested into the Rallying<br />

to the Challenge meeting, which annually<br />

brings together scientists and people with<br />

Parkinson’s from around the world.<br />

Isaacs passed away in 2017. In his memory,<br />

Cure Parkinson’s and VAI established<br />

the Tom Isaacs Award, which recognizes<br />

an individual who includes people with<br />

Parkinson’s in a participatory way in their<br />

work. Awardees include:<br />

2020 Caroline Tanner, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

2019 Tilo Kunath, Ph.D.<br />

TOM ISAACS<br />

2018 Bastiaan Bloem, M.D., Ph.D., &<br />

Simon Stott, Ph.D.<br />

2017 Thomas Foltynie, B.Sc., MBBS,<br />

MRCP, Ph.D.<br />

32<br />

2012


“At Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School, we aren't<br />

training students to be<br />

students — we're training<br />

them to be the scientific<br />

leaders <strong>of</strong> tomorrow.”<br />

Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg<br />

2012 VAI and area partners join forces to<br />

create a world-class biorepository, which<br />

was accredited by the College <strong>of</strong> American<br />

Pathologists in 2012<br />

Since then, the Biorepository has taken part in many highpr<strong>of</strong>ile<br />

projects. For example, in 2020, VAI’s Biorepository<br />

was awarded a $2.7 million, two-year subcontract from<br />

the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research,<br />

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

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

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

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

prevention through accelerated research 1 .<br />

1<br />

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

funds from the National Cancer Institute <strong>of</strong> the National<br />

Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health under contract no. HHSN261201500003I,<br />

Task Order HHSN26100042 through Leidos Biomedical<br />

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

<strong>of</strong> this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or<br />

policies <strong>of</strong> the Department <strong>of</strong> Health and Human Services,<br />

nor does mention <strong>of</strong> trade names, commercial products or<br />

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

(LEFT TO RIGHT) DR. STEVEN J. TRIEZENBERG, DR. NATALIE NIEMI, JONATHAN KARNES & DR. JEFF KLOMP<br />

2012 First students graduate from Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

They were Jonathan Karnes, M.S., Dr. Jeff Klomp, and<br />

Dr. Natalie Niemi. The Graduate School in August 2021<br />

2013 VAI Graduate School receives accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School was accredited by<br />

the Higher Learning Commission in 2013 and was later<br />

reaffirmed in 2018. Accreditation provides students the<br />

assurance that an institution <strong>of</strong> higher learning delivers<br />

a quality educational experience — one that will be<br />

recognized by potential employers, licensing boards or<br />

other educational institutions.<br />

The HLC is one <strong>of</strong> six regional institutional accreditors<br />

in the U.S. Accreditation criteria include the school’s<br />

had 32 alumni and an active student body <strong>of</strong> 45 Ph.D.<br />

degree candidates.<br />

mission and integrity; teaching and learning quality<br />

and support; and overall institutional effectiveness,<br />

resources and planning. Receiving this designation<br />

solidifies the Graduate School’s ability to deliver an<br />

impressive, impactful higher education experience to<br />

its students.<br />

The next reaffirmation <strong>of</strong> accreditation is scheduled<br />

for 2024.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2012 – 2013<br />

33


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

CHRISTINE BOELKINS, CAROL VAN ANDEL & VICKY LUDEMA, 2013<br />

2013 First Carol Van Andel Angel <strong>of</strong> Excellence Dinner &<br />

Award Presentation held<br />

This award honors individuals who have demonstrated a strong commitment to VAI’s<br />

mission through volunteer service and philanthropic efforts.<br />

Carol Van Andel Angel <strong>of</strong> Excellence Award Recipients<br />

2021 The Dave & Karen Custer Family, Dr. Juan And Mary Olivarez, Otsego Public Schools,<br />

Preusser Jewelers & Bee Brave<br />

2019 Jeff Battershall, Jerry & Karen Deblaay, Kirk Gibson, Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation<br />

& Sally Schaafsma<br />

2018 Duncan Lake Middle School, Jeffery Roberts, Therese Rowerdink, Susan Stafford<br />

& West Ottawa Purple Power<br />

2017 Sue Jandernoa, Timothy Long, The Michelle Lunn <strong>Hope</strong> Foundation, Peter<br />

& Joan Secchia & John Zimmerman<br />

2013 First A Conversation Luncheon Hosted by<br />

Carol Van Andel held<br />

(TOP PHOTO, LEFT TO<br />

RIGHT) DR. ERIC ACHTYES,<br />

DR. LENA BRUNDIN &<br />

DR. MARK EASTBURG JOIN<br />

MARANDA &<br />

CAROL VAN ANDEL VIA<br />

VIRTUAL PLATFORM, 2020;<br />

(AT LEFT) DR. CARRIE<br />

GRAVEEL, 2013<br />

The 2013 event featured presentations from VAI experts on the latest in breast cancer<br />

research. Other topics over the years have examined current research into depression,<br />

metabolism and nutrition, pediatric cancer and more.<br />

2016 Peggy Greydanus, Debbie Kinney, Jamie Mills & Rachel Mraz<br />

2015 Leigh’s, George Sr. & Linda Sharpe, Blair & Michelle Sharpe & George Jr.<br />

& Missy Sharpe<br />

2014 Lori “Maranda” Cook, Bella Fiorenzo, Mariah Otolski, Sydney Vinton & Allie Wittenbach<br />

2013 Christine Boelkins & Victoria Ludema<br />

2014 VAI and Spectrum Health’s Fred and Lena Meijer Heart<br />

Center establish partnership to stimulate regenerative medicine<br />

for heart disease<br />

The joint effort was made possible by a significant donation from the Richard and Helen<br />

DeVos Foundation.<br />

34<br />

2013 – 2014


2014 Renowned scientist Dr. Peter A. Jones leads Van Andel Institute for Research into the future<br />

A winning strategy<br />

When renowned scientist Dr. Peter A.<br />

Jones first visited VAI, he knew he was<br />

in the right place to build something<br />

incredible. All the pieces were there:<br />

state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art facilities, an outstanding<br />

team <strong>of</strong> scientists and staff and<br />

exceptional support from the Van Andel<br />

Family and the West Michigan community.<br />

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.<br />

Jones accepted the challenge: It was time<br />

to put VAI on the map.<br />

DR. PETER A. JONES, 2020<br />

Originally from South Africa, Jones had spent<br />

the previous 37 years in Los Angeles, where<br />

he most recently led University <strong>of</strong> Southern<br />

California’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer<br />

Center. Over the years, he had spearheaded<br />

groundbreaking research into epigenetics,<br />

a set <strong>of</strong> processes that regulate our genetic<br />

instruction manual and that are integral to<br />

health and disease. His discoveries helped<br />

bring the fledgling field to the forefront,<br />

where it continues to give rise to new cancer<br />

therapies.<br />

Upon arriving at VAI as chief scientific<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficer, Jones immediately set to work<br />

building on the strong foundations laid<br />

by the Institute’s Founding Research<br />

Director and legendary cancer scientist<br />

Dr. George Vande Woude. Jones<br />

envisioned VAI as the global destination<br />

for cutting-edge research, powered in<br />

part by vast collaborations designed to<br />

translate lab discoveries into life-changing<br />

patient care.<br />

Over the years, Jones expanded VAI’s<br />

research and recruited both outstanding<br />

early career scientists and distinguished,<br />

established investigators. He also made<br />

impact a priority — VAI is now known<br />

the world over for its groundbreaking<br />

research into epigenetics and its<br />

efforts to translate these discoveries<br />

into innovative patient care through<br />

the Van Andel Institute–Stand Up<br />

To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team.<br />

This collaborative endeavor was<br />

established in 2014 and leverages the<br />

collective brainpower and resources<br />

<strong>of</strong> leading cancer scientists, physicians<br />

and organizations to move promising<br />

epigenetic treatments for cancer into<br />

clinical trials.<br />

In 2020, Jones kicked <strong>of</strong>f an ambitious<br />

new phase <strong>of</strong> strategic growth that has<br />

led to the hire <strong>of</strong> six new faculty from<br />

renowned institutions in the U.S. and<br />

abroad. This next stage in the Institute’s<br />

growth has set our trajectory for years<br />

to come, further establishing VAI as a<br />

global destination for innovative research<br />

and a catalyst for paradigm-shifting<br />

collaborations.<br />

To attain the growth, reputation and<br />

impact VAI’s founders envisioned, we<br />

needed a plan. Since his arrival at VAI,<br />

Dr. Peter A. Jones has led development <strong>of</strong><br />

four iterative strategic plans, each designed<br />

to grow our scientific capacity and, with it,<br />

our impact on human health.<br />

Research 1.0 Establish gravitational pull<br />

to Grand Rapids by recruiting top scientific<br />

talent<br />

Research 2.0 Support and develop our<br />

existing scientists while recruiting early<br />

career scientists into our areas <strong>of</strong> strength<br />

Research 3.0 Build successful programs in<br />

our areas <strong>of</strong> scientific strength<br />

Research 4.0 Elevate VAI’s reputation as<br />

a hub for groundbreaking research and<br />

catalytic collaboration<br />

DR. PETER A. JONES &<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL, 2014<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2014<br />

35


VAI–STAND UP TO CANCER EPIGENETICS DREAM TEAM, 2014; CURE PARKINSON’S GROUP VISITS VAI, 2018<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2014 VAI partners with Stand Up To Cancer and Cure Parkinson’s to catalyze collaboration against cancer and Parkinson’s<br />

Teamwork and impact have always been at the heart <strong>of</strong> VAI’s mission. This ethos is<br />

reflected in our two largest collaborations: the Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer<br />

Epigenetics Dream Team and the Cure Parkinson’s–Van Andel Institute International<br />

Linked Clinical Trials initiative.<br />

Established in 2014, the VAI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team brings together leading<br />

cancer scientists, physicians and organizations to collaborate against cancer. Their goal?<br />

To move promising combination therapies for cancer into clinical trials — a vital step on<br />

the road to the clinic. The team is co-led by VAI Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Peter A. Jones<br />

and Director’s Scholar Dr. Stephen B. Baylin, both world leaders in cancer epigenetics<br />

research. So far, the team has launched 13 clinical trials that have enrolled more than<br />

500 patients.<br />

Cancers and repurposed drugs studied through clinical collaborations<br />

Following a formal agreement in 2014, VAI has partnered with Cure Parkinson’s (formerly<br />

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust) to support clinical trials <strong>of</strong> medications developed to treat<br />

other diseases that also show potential for slowing or stopping Parkinson’s disease<br />

progression — something not possible with current therapies. VAI’s Deputy Chief<br />

Scientific Officer Dr. Patrik Brundin chairs iLCT’s Scientific Committee, a group <strong>of</strong> globally<br />

leading experts that annually evaluates medications that may have promise for impeding<br />

Parkinson’s and prioritizes them for clinical investigation. As <strong>of</strong> September 2021, iLCT has<br />

launched 28 clinical trials. In all, more than 3,500 people have participated.<br />

We are deeply grateful to all those who have participated in these vital trials. Their<br />

contributions to our collaborative efforts are bringing us closer to breakthrough therapies<br />

that improve the quality <strong>of</strong> life for millions.<br />

Cancers (VAI–SU2C Epigenetics<br />

Dream Team)<br />

• Metastatic colorectal cancer<br />

• Acute myeloid leukemia<br />

• High-risk myelodysplastic<br />

syndrome (MDS), chronic<br />

myelomonocytic leukemia<br />

(CMML), and acute myeloid<br />

leukemia (AML)<br />

• Low-risk myelodysplastic<br />

syndrome (MDS), chronic<br />

myelomonocytic leukemia<br />

(CMML) and clonal cytopenia<br />

<strong>of</strong> undetermined significance<br />

(CCUS)<br />

• High-risk myelodysplastic<br />

syndrome (MDS), chronic<br />

myelomonocytic leukemia<br />

(CMML) and low blast count AML<br />

• High-risk myelodysplastic<br />

syndrome (MDS) or chronic<br />

myelomonocytic leukemia<br />

(CMML)<br />

• Non-small cell lung cancer<br />

• Bladder (urothelial) cancer<br />

• Liver, pancreatic, bile duct,<br />

and gallbladder cancers<br />

• Triple negative or hormone<br />

resistant/HER2-negative<br />

metastatic breast cancer<br />

Repurposed drugs (iLCT),<br />

including:<br />

• Ambroxol<br />

• Deferiprone<br />

• EPI-589<br />

• Exenatide<br />

• Liraglutide<br />

• Lixisenatide<br />

• UDCA<br />

36<br />

2014


2014 First Rallying to the Challenge held in<br />

conjunction with the Grand Challenges in<br />

Parkinson’s Disease symposium<br />

This event is a meeting designed for and by people with<br />

Parkinson’s, advocates and care partners that delves into<br />

how the Parkinson’s community can impact and accelerate<br />

research.<br />

2014 External Scientific Advisory Board<br />

meets for the first time<br />

2015 Van Andel Institute Purple Community<br />

hosts its first annual Purple Community 5K<br />

2015 Winterfest celebrates $1 million<br />

fundraising milestone in conjunction<br />

with its 10-year anniversary<br />

2015 NexGen Inquiry®, VAI for Education’s<br />

web-based science education platform,<br />

launches<br />

2015 Drs. Peter A. Jones, Stephen B. Baylin<br />

and Stefan Jovinge play key roles in<br />

discoveries that were hailed as notable<br />

advances <strong>of</strong> 2015 by Nature Medicine<br />

2015 David Van Andel and Dr. George<br />

Vande Woude honored with the Ge<strong>of</strong>frey<br />

Beene Builders <strong>of</strong> Science Award from<br />

Research!America<br />

This award recognizes distinguished research advocates<br />

who are trailblazers in advancing medical progress to<br />

improve the health and economic security <strong>of</strong> the nation.<br />

2015 A historic day — His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty<br />

Queen Máxima <strong>of</strong> the Netherlands visit VAI<br />

On June 2, 2015, VAI celebrated a momentous occasion in<br />

its history: welcoming His Majesty King Willem-Alexander<br />

and Her Majesty Queen Máxima <strong>of</strong> the Netherlands to the<br />

Institute. While at VAI, the King and Queen met with<br />

David Van Andel, chairman and CEO <strong>of</strong> the Institute,<br />

and Carol Van Andel, executive director <strong>of</strong> the David and<br />

Carol Van Andel Family Foundation. The group toured<br />

a neurodegenerative disease lab and attended a lettersigning<br />

ceremony that aimed to foster collaboration in<br />

Parkinson’s research.<br />

2014 – 2015<br />

DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL WITH HIS MAJESTY KING WILLEM-ALEXANDER & HER MAJESTY<br />

QUEEN MÁXIMA OF THE NETHERLANDS<br />

The Royal Couple’s stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was<br />

part <strong>of</strong> a visit celebrating the strong ties between the<br />

Netherlands and the U.S., with a focus on health care<br />

and agriculture. In recognition <strong>of</strong> their visit and that <strong>of</strong><br />

the Life Sciences and Health Economic Mission <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Netherlands to the U.S., VAI, Spectrum Health and the<br />

Kingdom <strong>of</strong> the Netherlands hosted a joint symposium<br />

to strengthen ties between the Dutch and American<br />

research and medical communities.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

37


2015 Renowned cancer scientist Dr. Stephen B. Baylin joins<br />

VAI as director’s scholar<br />

To make the biggest breakthroughs, VAI brings together the brightest minds to spur<br />

innovation through collaboration at the Institute and beyond. That’s why, in 2015, VAI<br />

appointed Dr. Stephen B. Baylin as the Institute’s first director’s scholar, a position<br />

that fosters teamwork and engages leading scientists from other organizations in our<br />

mission.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

Baylin is a globally recognized expert in the field <strong>of</strong> cancer epigenetics, which explores<br />

the mechanisms that decide when and where the instructions in our genetic code will be<br />

carried out. Epigenetics has incredible potential to shed new light on cancer and inform<br />

powerful new treatments.<br />

Baylin also is a long-time collaborator <strong>of</strong> VAI Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Peter A. Jones. As<br />

Director’s Scholar, Baylin spends a quarter <strong>of</strong> his time at VAI, where he and Jones colead<br />

the Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team. This multiinstitutional<br />

effort is designed to move promising combination therapies for cancer into<br />

clinical trials. At the same time, Baylin maintains his primary affiliation at Johns Hopkins<br />

University Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he serves as co-head <strong>of</strong><br />

Cancer Biology. On the basic research front, Baylin also collaborates with VAI scientists<br />

to explore cancer epigenetics and drug development.<br />

“Seven million to 10 million people<br />

worldwide have Parkinson's. That's<br />

7 million to 10 million mothers, fathers,<br />

brothers, sisters and friends. And that's<br />

7 million to 10 million reasons to do<br />

this work."<br />

Dr. Patrik Brundin<br />

2016 Terra Tarango appointed education director and<br />

chief education <strong>of</strong>ficer<br />

When Terra Tarango joined Van Andel Institute<br />

for Education as director and chief education<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficer, she was an accomplished executive<br />

in the education industry with more than 15<br />

years <strong>of</strong> experience in educational publishing<br />

and services. She served as president <strong>of</strong> SDE,<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the largest providers <strong>of</strong> pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

development for pre-K through 12th grade<br />

educators in the U.S. Prior to that, she<br />

developed an award-winning print and digital<br />

curriculum with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,<br />

the largest educational publisher in the nation.<br />

2016 The first international students enroll at the<br />

Graduate School<br />

TERRA TARANGO<br />

Tarango’s expertise in instructional climate<br />

and culture has been a tremendous asset<br />

to the Institute’s student and teacher<br />

programs. At VAI, Tarango oversees our<br />

efforts to improve science and inquirybased<br />

instruction in K–12 education across<br />

the country. She and her team provide<br />

innovative science programs for students<br />

and world-class pr<strong>of</strong>essional development<br />

for educators.<br />

2016 Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream<br />

Team begins clinical trials on promising new therapies for cancer<br />

38<br />

2015 – 2016


DR. STEPHEN B. BAYLIN, DR. PETER A. JONES & DR. GEORGE VANDE WOUDE, 2015<br />

2016 Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Peter A. Jones is elected to the<br />

prestigious National Academy <strong>of</strong> Sciences. Director’s Scholar<br />

Dr. Stephen B. Baylin was elected the next year in 2017. Founding<br />

Research Director Dr. George Vande Woude was elected to the<br />

Academy in 1993.<br />

2017 Van Andel Institute for Education hosts then-U.S. Secretary<br />

<strong>of</strong> Education Betsy DeVos, featuring student interactions and a<br />

teacher round-table discussion<br />

2017 This year sees VAI’s first Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) from<br />

the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health, followed by two successive<br />

Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Awards (F99/K00)<br />

from the National Cancer Institute in 2017 and 2018<br />

2017 Van Andel Institute for Education launches popular, weeklong<br />

summer camps, as well as a variety <strong>of</strong> thought leadership<br />

webinars catered to teachers<br />

Summer camps keep the learning going after the school year ends and <strong>of</strong>fer students a<br />

line-up <strong>of</strong> interactive investigations to feed their curiosity, creativity and critical thinking.<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL ADVANCED CRYO-ELECTRON MICROSCOPY SUITE<br />

2017 VAI zooms in on life’s building blocks<br />

with cryo-EM<br />

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

a tennis match on Earth. Now imagine that same visual power packed into a high-tech<br />

microscope, and you have cryo-EM — a groundbreaking technology that allows scientists<br />

to study the smallest components <strong>of</strong> life in exquisite detail. In 2017, this revolutionary<br />

platform found a home in VAI’s David Van Andel Advanced Cryo-Electron Microscopy Suite,<br />

a state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art facility staffed by experts at the forefront <strong>of</strong> structural biology.<br />

Since then, VAI scientists have leveraged cryo-EM to visualize a host <strong>of</strong> critical molecules<br />

that may serve as treatment targets for cancer, neurological disorders, metabolic diseases,<br />

infectious diseases and more. They’ve revealed groundbreaking new insights into the<br />

most fundamental aspects <strong>of</strong> biology, from parsing the ways cells sense and respond to<br />

the environment to illuminating the intricacies <strong>of</strong> DNA replication. Cryo-EM also aids in the<br />

development <strong>of</strong> new medications by revealing how a drug molecule disables its<br />

target protein.<br />

The impact <strong>of</strong> VAI’s cryo-EM goes far beyond its ability to propel breakthroughs by<br />

providing detailed blueprints <strong>of</strong> life’s biological building blocks. This advanced technology<br />

has brought with it a wellspring <strong>of</strong> collaboration, catalyzing a gravitational pull that<br />

draws world-class scientists to VAI to work and pursue answers to some <strong>of</strong> life’s most<br />

fundamental questions.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2016 – 2017<br />

39


2017 Carol Van Andel receives commendation from VAI Boards <strong>of</strong><br />

Trustees in recognition <strong>of</strong> her service to the Institute<br />

Carol Van Andel, executive director <strong>of</strong> the David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation<br />

and wife <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute Chairman and CEO David Van Andel, is <strong>of</strong>ten heralded<br />

as the heart and soul <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute. This well-deserved accolade recognizes her<br />

philanthropic efforts on behalf <strong>of</strong> VAI, which today include a variety <strong>of</strong> signature events<br />

such as Couture for a Cure, <strong>Hope</strong> on the Hill Gala and Winterfest Celebration.<br />

On June 19, 2017, VAI’s Boards <strong>of</strong> Trustees commended Carol Van Andel for her deep<br />

dedication to the Institute and engaging the community in support <strong>of</strong> VAI’s work. During<br />

the tribute luncheon, the Trustees presented a joint resolution and a gift in recognition <strong>of</strong><br />

her time, effort and exceptional leadership, as well as the instrumental role she plays as a<br />

community connector, bringing people together in support <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s mission.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

In addition to helming the Institute’s signature events, Carol Van Andel is a strong<br />

mentor for the students in VAI’s Student Ambassador Program (see p. 43 for more).<br />

These high school students actively learn about and develop skills for creating,<br />

supporting and hosting philanthropic events, and can gain a great deal <strong>of</strong> knowledge<br />

from her insights.<br />

2017–present VAI breaks funding and publication records<br />

In the scientific world, discoveries are shared through peer-reviewed publications in<br />

research journals, while excellence is recognized through the awarding <strong>of</strong> grants. Both<br />

are important measures <strong>of</strong> success.<br />

In 2020, VAI scientists had their best year yet for grants, earning a record $38 million in<br />

total new awards — up from $13 million five years ago in 2016. To date, our best year<br />

for publications was 2017, which saw the highest number <strong>of</strong> peer-reviewed studies<br />

published in journals at 154. In 2020, VAI scientists published 132 peer-reviewed studies<br />

— an impressive feat, given the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL, 2017<br />

As we look toward the future, all signs point to sustained growth in both <strong>of</strong> these<br />

important metrics, a reflection <strong>of</strong> the impact and exceptional research underway at VAI.<br />

“Something that never wavers in importance is the passionate commitment <strong>of</strong> philanthropists and activists who support the scientists in the labs. It’s<br />

important that we acknowledge these powerful examples <strong>of</strong> philanthropy and honor those who are tireless supporters <strong>of</strong> life-changing biomedical<br />

research and innovative approaches to science education.”<br />

Carol Van Andel<br />

40<br />

2017


(LEFT TO RIGHT) DR. ADELHEID LEMPRADL, DR. NING WU, DR. J. ANDREW POSPISILIK,<br />

DR. CONNIE KRAWCZYK, DR. RUSSELL JONES & DR. BRIAN HAAB, 2018<br />

2018 VAI establishes its metabolism and nutritional programming<br />

research group<br />

The foods we eat and the energy they produce are foundational to good health. But<br />

what happens when our metabolic balance is disrupted? Can we optimize metabolism<br />

to improve health and stave <strong>of</strong>f disease? Does nutrition have a ripple effect across<br />

the generations?<br />

To answer these questions and more, VAI established its Metabolism and Nutritional<br />

Programming research team in 2018 with the goal <strong>of</strong> developing scientifically driven<br />

strategies for promoting health and preventing and treating diseases such as cancer,<br />

Parkinson’s and diabetes. This comprehensive endeavor bridges a host <strong>of</strong> fields, bringing<br />

together experts in metabolism, nutrition, the immune system, epigenetics and other<br />

important areas to reveal new insights that could reshape how we view metabolism from<br />

the whole-body level down to individual cells.<br />

Metabolism powers each and every biological process, from regulating appetite to<br />

ensuring that the heart has enough energy to beat. Some diseases, such as Type 2<br />

diabetes, are wholly metabolic in origin. Others, like cancer, are now known to be<br />

influenced by dysfunctions in metabolism. Even Parkinson’s disease, a neurological<br />

movement disorder that steals away a person’s ability to move, now appears to be<br />

caused, at least in part, by disruptions in cellular metabolism.<br />

As the Institute enters its next 25 years, our Metabolism and Nutritional Programming<br />

research team also is entering an exciting growth phase, with the recruitment <strong>of</strong> new<br />

faculty to expand its expertise and impact. Together with their colleagues, our scientists<br />

are taking bold steps to transform our understanding <strong>of</strong> metabolism and to leverage<br />

their discoveries to transform human health.<br />

(LEFT TO RIGHT) DR. STEPHEN B. BAYLIN, ANN SCHOEN & DR. PETER A. JONES, 2018<br />

2018 VAI participates in Stand Up To Cancer telecast<br />

On Sept. 7, 2018, Van Andel Institute was thrilled to be a part <strong>of</strong> the 2018 Stand Up To<br />

Cancer telecast, which raised a record-breaking $123 million for cancer research.<br />

The biennial special featured our own Ann Schoen, a cancer survivor and a VAI employee<br />

for 25 years, as <strong>of</strong> 2021. She was part <strong>of</strong> the “Everyday Heroes” segment honoring<br />

cancer survivors, and was recognized with fellow survivors onstage during the event.<br />

The telecast aired on more than 70 network and broadcast platforms around the world<br />

and brought together some <strong>of</strong> the entertainment industry’s biggest stars. Millions <strong>of</strong><br />

people tuned into the broadcast, which was executive-produced by award-winning actor<br />

and director Bradley Cooper.<br />

The Institute has worked closely with Stand Up To Cancer since 2014, with the creation<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Van Andel Institute–Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team, a multiinstitutional<br />

effort to move more effective cancer therapies into clinical trials and to the<br />

patients who need them most.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2018<br />

41


2018 VAI scientists, collaborators pinpoint<br />

the appendix as a potential starting<br />

point for Parkinson’s disease, attracting<br />

worldwide media recognition<br />

2019 Blue Apple TM brings inquirybased<br />

learning to life<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

DR. VIVIANE LABRIE (1980–2020)<br />

APPENDIX NERVE CELLS ARE COLORED IN GREEN,<br />

CLUMPED ALPHA-SYNUCLEIN IS COLORED IN RED &<br />

NUCLEI OF APPENDIX NERVE CELLS ARE COLORED<br />

IN BLUE (COURTESY OF THE LABRIE LAB)<br />

When most people think <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s disease, the<br />

appendix likely doesn’t come to mind.<br />

But a landmark 2018 study led by VAI scientists<br />

suggests that it should. They discovered that removing<br />

the appendix early in life significantly reduces the risk<br />

<strong>of</strong> developing Parkinson’s disease and slightly delays<br />

symptom onset in people who still go on to develop<br />

Parkinson’s. Importantly, they also identified the<br />

appendix as a storehouse for the protein alpha-synuclein<br />

(photo at bottom left). This protein adopts an abnormal<br />

shape in Parkinson’s; some believe it could travel along<br />

nerves up to the brain early in the disease.<br />

The study did not make the case for removing the<br />

appendix as a preventative measure. Instead, it solidified<br />

the notion that the gut and immune system play roles in<br />

the origin <strong>of</strong> the disease and provided vital insights that<br />

could open the door to new therapies.<br />

Major media outlets around the world highlighted this<br />

discovery. Only one week after the study published,<br />

the story had reached nearly 1 billion people and firmly<br />

established the study’s senior author, the late Dr. Viviane<br />

Labrie, as a rising superstar in her field.<br />

Tragically, Dr. Labrie lost her life in a vehicle accident<br />

in August 2020. She is remembered as an exceptional<br />

scientist, an outstanding colleague and a beloved<br />

wife, daughter and friend. Her scientific contributions<br />

continue to transform our understanding <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s,<br />

Alzheimer’s and psychiatric disorders and will do so for<br />

years to come. She is deeply and pr<strong>of</strong>oundly missed.<br />

Classrooms have the power to transform lives. They serve<br />

as an epicenter <strong>of</strong> society's collective efforts to develop and<br />

encourage young minds to thrive in an increasingly fast-paced<br />

and ever-changing world. In support <strong>of</strong> the teachers and<br />

students in these classrooms across the country, Van Andel<br />

Institute for Education launched the Blue Apple program in<br />

2019. These project-based learning units increase student<br />

engagement and support teachers who want to make a<br />

significant difference in their students' lives. Blue Apple provides<br />

K–8 teachers with project plans and supplies, connections<br />

to real-world experts, cross-curricular content, and the<br />

opportunity to collaborate with other classrooms. Since its<br />

launch, Blue Apple has been adopted by more than 200 schools<br />

throughout the Midwest and beyond.<br />

Blue Apple proved to be particularly critical in 2020, when<br />

schools found themselves shifting to remote learning during<br />

the COVID-19 pandemic. The Institute's educators and staff<br />

adapted each Blue Apple project-based learning unit to include<br />

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

classroom model.<br />

"Switching to virtual on a dime posed some obstacles, but<br />

we thrive on problem-solving," said Terra Tarango, education<br />

director and chief education <strong>of</strong>ficer. "So, we embraced the<br />

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

and teachers fully engaged in remote environments."<br />

Some examples <strong>of</strong> Blue Apple projects include:<br />

High Energy: Can we save our school<br />

money while saving the planet?<br />

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

germs in their tracks?<br />

Lend a Hand: Can a few cents revitalize a<br />

community?<br />

42<br />

2018 – 2019


(LEFT TO RIGHT) HOLLY BARKER, ISABELLA HARNISH, EMILY DEAN, GRACE GEER, CAROL VAN ANDEL, BRIANNA VOLPE, ABBY MILES, MARGARET BRUEMMER & KENDALL HALUCH<br />

2019 VAI Student Ambassador Program launched<br />

VAI boasts a long, impactful history with students and young<br />

leaders <strong>of</strong> the West Michigan community, thanks in large<br />

part to the work <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute for Education and VAI<br />

Purple Community. In 2019, that impact grew even more with<br />

the launch <strong>of</strong> the VAI Student Ambassador Program.<br />

This program brings area high school students together<br />

to learn about and see in action how the efforts <strong>of</strong> even a<br />

single person can make a difference, whether in school, at<br />

an organization or in a community.<br />

Student Ambassadors apply at the beginning <strong>of</strong> each<br />

school year, and gather throughout the year to interact<br />

with and learn from VAI’s scientists, educators and staff<br />

about the Institute and why community support is integral<br />

to our work. Carol Van Andel, executive director <strong>of</strong> the<br />

David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation and wife<br />

<strong>of</strong> VAI Chairman and CEO David Van Andel, also joins the<br />

group each year to share her philanthropic experiences<br />

and insight and to provide a guiding light as the students<br />

approach their culminating fundraiser.<br />

The inaugural cohort comprised 11 ambassadors. In 2020,<br />

the program went virtual in accordance with guidelines<br />

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

28 ambassadors from 11 different schools in West<br />

Michigan, who collaborated to host a virtual silent auction<br />

in April 2021. All proceeds from the auction directly<br />

benefited the research and education programs at<br />

the Institute.<br />

Former VAI Student Ambassadors have<br />

hailed from the following schools:<br />

• Caledonia High School<br />

• Cedar Springs High School<br />

• East Grand Rapids High School<br />

• Forest Hills Northern High School<br />

• Grand Rapids Catholic Central<br />

• Grand Rapids Christian High School<br />

• Grand Rapids Public Schools City High Middle School<br />

• Holland Christian High School<br />

• Otsego High School<br />

• Wayland Union High School<br />

• West Catholic High School<br />

• West Michigan Aviation Academy<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2019<br />

43


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

STUDENTS AT SAN JUAN DIEGO ACADEMY ENGAGING WITH BLUE APPLE PILOT PROGRAM<br />

2020 Two new programs from Van Andel Institute for<br />

Education launch<br />

Flexible and customizable, Flex PD tailors pr<strong>of</strong>essional development content to each<br />

school’s needs. As learning loss became a larger conversation during the COVID-19<br />

pandemic, Flex PD evolved to help prepare teachers to successfully close instructional<br />

gaps in the coming school year. This model features immersive, in-person workshops,<br />

learning sessions hosted virtually or in person, and ongoing access to instructional<br />

coaches. Every plan focuses on building or district-level needs, and promotes tangible<br />

shifts in practice with the support needed to take on the school year successfully.<br />

Another innovation born from virtual learning environments, Better Together is a series<br />

<strong>of</strong> free, virtual networking events for school administrators. These events create the<br />

space and time for administrators to network with peers and learn how others are<br />

navigating challenges and changes in the educational space.<br />

STUDENTS IN THE NEW VAI GRADUATE SCHOOL BUILDING<br />

2020–2021 Faculty, graduate student and postdoctoral fellow<br />

recruitment efforts grow<br />

Van Andel Institute has enjoyed tremendous growth in the years since our founding, but<br />

our mission has remained the same: to improve health and enhance lives for current<br />

and future generations. A large part <strong>of</strong> this work is accomplished by our world-renowned<br />

faculty — the scientific leaders <strong>of</strong> today — and in training students and postdoctoral<br />

fellows who will one day be independent scientists and continue to tackle the health<br />

problems <strong>of</strong> tomorrow.<br />

Our efforts took a significant leap forward in 2020 with successful campaigns to recruit<br />

new faculty members and graduate students to the Institute. This push resulted in the<br />

recruitment <strong>of</strong> six new faculty, the first <strong>of</strong> whom arrived at VAI in summer 2021.<br />

In August 2021, Van Andel Institute Graduate School welcomed a cohort <strong>of</strong> 14 students<br />

from eight countries — the result <strong>of</strong> a successful outreach campaign. The Institute<br />

also launched a multipronged effort to recruit postdoctoral fellows, including a Cancer<br />

Epigenetics Training Program 1 funded by the National Cancer Institute <strong>of</strong> the National<br />

Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health, and the VAI-funded Inspire Fellowship, which is designed to increase<br />

representation at VAI and in science by supporting postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented<br />

groups.<br />

1<br />

The Cancer Epigenetics Training program is supported by a National Cancer Institute T32<br />

training grant (no. T32CA251066). The content is solely the responsibility <strong>of</strong> VAI and does not<br />

necessarily represent the <strong>of</strong>ficial views <strong>of</strong> the National Institutes <strong>of</strong> Health.<br />

44<br />

2020 – 2021


2021 VAI launches new initiatives<br />

in neurodegenerative diseases<br />

and metabolism<br />

Catalyzing collaboration and innovation is at the<br />

core <strong>of</strong> VAI’s mission. That’s why, in 2021, the<br />

Institute launched two new initiatives designed to<br />

power breakthroughs in West Michigan: the West<br />

Michigan Neurodegenerative Diseases (MiND)<br />

Program and the Metabolism and Nutritional<br />

Programming in Disease (MeNu) Program.<br />

These endeavors will bring together VAI’s in-house<br />

experts in neurodegeneration and metabolism<br />

with the goal <strong>of</strong> accelerating progress in these<br />

critical areas.<br />

The MiND program will be home to collaborative<br />

sample collection and genetic sequencing efforts.<br />

The data garnered from these efforts will be used<br />

to seek out genetic changes that may play roles in<br />

diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.<br />

The MeNu program seeks to rapidly expand<br />

VAI’s metabolism research capabilities, giving<br />

our scientists the tools they need to investigate<br />

metabolism in health and disease.<br />

Both MiND and MeNu will provide dedicated<br />

research awards to help eligible postdoctoral<br />

fellows transition from being trainees to<br />

independent positions, and will support the<br />

acquisition <strong>of</strong> powerful new technologies to<br />

drive research and propel discovery. They also<br />

include special funding mechanisms to support<br />

interdisciplinary research projects designed to<br />

garner the initial data required to earn larger<br />

federal awards.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

Together, these cross-cutting programs will<br />

spur innovation and collaboration across<br />

VAI, enhancing discovery and transforming<br />

human health.<br />

2021<br />

45


VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

46<br />

2021<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE GRADUATE SCHOOL, 2021 (CENTER BUILDING PICTURED)


2021 A new chapter for Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School begins<br />

Since its founding in 2005, Van Andel Institute Graduate<br />

School has been at the vanguard <strong>of</strong> training the scientific<br />

leaders <strong>of</strong> tomorrow. The Graduate School’s inaugural<br />

cohort, welcomed in 2007, comprised three students.<br />

Fifteen years later, the Institute welcomed our largestever<br />

cohort: 14 students, and our most diverse yet.<br />

Expanding the number <strong>of</strong> Ph.D. students undergirds<br />

the Graduate School’s strategic vision. In recent years,<br />

the Graduate School has continually attracted record<br />

numbers <strong>of</strong> applicants for its rigorous, problem-focused<br />

Ph.D. program in molecular and cellular biology. As the<br />

size <strong>of</strong> incoming cohorts grew, it was clear the Graduate<br />

School needed to “graduate” from its longtime home on<br />

the fifth floor <strong>of</strong> VAI’s Bostwick Avenue facility.<br />

In spring 2021, the Graduate School moved into its new<br />

home at 234 N Division Ave., directly across from the<br />

Institute’s main campus and next to Van Andel Institute<br />

for Education. The renovated space includes classrooms<br />

and workstations; quiet spaces for students to read,<br />

think and study; shared space where students can<br />

interact and collaborate; kitchen and lounge areas; and a<br />

reading room.<br />

The new space allows the Graduate School to comfortably<br />

grow into its next chapter while maintaining the<br />

characteristics that have long made it attractive to<br />

students: innovative approaches to teaching, intimate<br />

cohort sizes, access to cutting-edge technology, and<br />

guidance by faculty mentors at the top <strong>of</strong> their<br />

research fields.<br />

Through the years, several VAI scientists have been elected to prestigious scientific<br />

societies. Their membership among these cadres <strong>of</strong> elite experts reflects their extensive<br />

scientific contributions and elevates VAI’s reputation in the U.S. and abroad.<br />

American Association for Cancer Research Academy<br />

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

Director’s Scholar, VAI<br />

Co-Head <strong>of</strong> Cancer Biology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive<br />

Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University<br />

Elected 2014<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Elected 2013<br />

George Vande Woude, Ph.D. (1935–2021)<br />

Founding Research Director<br />

Elected 2013<br />

National Academy <strong>of</strong> Sciences<br />

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

Director’s Scholar, VAI<br />

Co-Head <strong>of</strong> Cancer Biology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive<br />

Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University<br />

Elected 2017<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Elected 2016<br />

George Vande Woude, Ph.D. (1935–2021)<br />

Founding Research Director<br />

Elected 1993<br />

American Association for the Advancement <strong>of</strong> Science<br />

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

Director’s Scholar, VAI<br />

Co-Head <strong>of</strong> Cancer Biology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive<br />

Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University<br />

Elected 2020<br />

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.<br />

Pr<strong>of</strong>essor<br />

Elected 2015<br />

George Vande Woude, Ph.D. (1935–2021)<br />

Founding Research Director<br />

Elected 2013<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Elected 2009<br />

American Academy <strong>of</strong> Arts & Sciences<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Elected 2017<br />

George Vande Woude, Ph.D. (1935–2021)<br />

Founding Research Director<br />

Elected 2006<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2021<br />

47


Notable achievements from VAI for Research<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

A quarter-century <strong>of</strong><br />

groundbreaking work<br />

is difficult to condense.<br />

Here are just some<br />

<strong>of</strong> VAI’s most notable<br />

achievements throughout<br />

the years.<br />

Awards<br />

and<br />

honors<br />

VAI scientists have been<br />

recognized throughout<br />

the years with these<br />

accolades.<br />

Spread <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s disease<br />

through the brain, 2013<br />

VAI scientists were the first to<br />

show that a Parkinson’s diseaseassociated<br />

protein spreads from<br />

parts <strong>of</strong> the brain connected to the<br />

nose to other brain regions affected<br />

by the disease. The discovery has<br />

implications for finding ways to slow<br />

or stop disease progression.<br />

Developing more precise<br />

medications, 2015<br />

VAI scientists for the first time<br />

identified the structure <strong>of</strong> a G<br />

protein-coupled receptor, a major<br />

drug target, which is a critical step<br />

in understanding its function and<br />

leveraging it for the treatment <strong>of</strong><br />

disease.<br />

Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers<br />

are scientists who have<br />

demonstrated significant and<br />

broad influence reflected in their<br />

publication <strong>of</strong> multiple highly cited<br />

papers. Their highly cited papers<br />

rank in the top 1% by citations for a<br />

chosen field and year.<br />

The Pew Scholars Program in<br />

Biomedical Sciences provides<br />

funding to young investigators <strong>of</strong><br />

outstanding promise in science<br />

relevant to the advancement <strong>of</strong><br />

human health.<br />

Creating a cancer atlas, 2015<br />

VAI scientists played integral roles<br />

in The Cancer Genome Atlas, a<br />

federally led project to molecularly<br />

map cancer. The more than<br />

decade-long initiative was the most<br />

in-depth undertaking <strong>of</strong> its kind,<br />

spanning 10,000 tumors across<br />

33 cancer types.<br />

Viral mimicry improves cancer<br />

treatment, 2015<br />

VAI scientists and collaborators<br />

have found that anti-cancer drugs<br />

called demethylating agents trick<br />

cancer cells to behave as though<br />

they are infected with a virus or<br />

other pathogen. This “viral mimicry”<br />

leads to cell death, decreasing<br />

the number <strong>of</strong> cancer cells and<br />

The Sloan Research Fellowship<br />

recognizes and rewards<br />

outstanding early-career faculty<br />

who have the potential to<br />

revolutionize their fields <strong>of</strong> study.<br />

The McKnight Scholar Award<br />

encourages neuroscientists in the<br />

early stages <strong>of</strong> their careers to<br />

focus on disorders <strong>of</strong> learning and<br />

memory.<br />

The Klingenstein-Simons<br />

Fellowship Award supports earlycareer<br />

investigators engaged in<br />

basic or clinical research that may<br />

lead to a better understanding<br />

<strong>of</strong> neurological and psychiatric<br />

disorders.<br />

improving the effectiveness <strong>of</strong><br />

other treatments, such as chemoand<br />

immunotherapies.<br />

Copying the genetic code, 2017<br />

VAI scientists are studying how<br />

DNA replicates, which may one day<br />

contribute to the development <strong>of</strong><br />

better therapies for the more than<br />

40 diseases related to failures in<br />

this process.<br />

Stand Up To Cancer Catalyst®<br />

awards, 2017<br />

The Van Andel Institute–Stand<br />

Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream<br />

Team scientists earned two <strong>of</strong><br />

10 prestigious Catalyst awards from<br />

Stand Up To Cancer, which support<br />

clinical trials for new bladder cancer<br />

The Allen Distinguished<br />

Investigator Award by The Paul G.<br />

Allen Frontiers Group, a division <strong>of</strong><br />

the Allen Institute, supports earlystage<br />

research with the potential to<br />

reinvent entire fields.<br />

The ASAP Award from Aligning<br />

Science Across Parkinson’s<br />

supports multidisciplinary,<br />

collaborative research teams that<br />

address key knowledge gaps in the<br />

basic mechanisms that contribute<br />

to Parkinson’s development and<br />

progression.<br />

and non-small cell lung cancer<br />

therapies.<br />

Establishing a link between the<br />

appendix & Parkinson’s, 2018<br />

VAI scientists identified the<br />

appendix as a possible starting<br />

point for Parkinson’s, opening the<br />

door to potential new therapies<br />

that aim to head <strong>of</strong>f the disease<br />

in the gut, long before motor<br />

symptoms occur.<br />

Potential blood test for pancreatic<br />

cancer, 2019<br />

VAI scientists are developing a<br />

new combination blood test for<br />

pancreatic cancer that may help<br />

catch the disease sooner, which<br />

could lead to earlier and more<br />

effective medical intervention.<br />

The Specialized Programs <strong>of</strong><br />

Research Excellence (SPORE)<br />

Grant from the National Cancer<br />

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

<strong>of</strong> Health supports nearly<br />

20 scientists from VAI and the<br />

Coriell Institute for Medical<br />

Research as they work to improve<br />

epigenetic therapies for cancer.<br />

The Ruth L. Kirschstein National<br />

Research Service Award (NRSA)<br />

Institutional Research Training<br />

Grant (T32) from NCI supports<br />

institutions in developing or<br />

enhancing research training<br />

opportunities for predoctoral and<br />

postdoctoral fellows to be trained<br />

in cancer research.<br />

48


Notable achievements from<br />

VAI Graduate School<br />

2005 Dr. Gordon Van Harn guides the founding <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute Graduate School and<br />

obtains a charter from the State <strong>of</strong> Michigan to grant doctoral and master’s degrees<br />

2007 First students enroll in the Graduate School and are welcomed in opening convocation<br />

2012 First students graduate from the Graduate School<br />

2013 Graduate School receives initial accreditation by Higher Learning Commission<br />

2016 First international students enroll in the Graduate School<br />

2017– First <strong>of</strong> several Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) from the National Institutes <strong>of</strong><br />

2018 Health are received, as well as two Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition<br />

Awards (F99/K00) from the National Cancer Institute <strong>of</strong> NIH<br />

Notable achievements from<br />

VAI for Education<br />

2017 Hosted visit from then-U.S. Secretary <strong>of</strong> Education, Betsy DeVos<br />

Launched Summer Camps<br />

Launched thought leadership webinars for teachers<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

2018 Appointed two new trustees to Education board: Teresa Weatherall Neal, Ed.D.<br />

(hon) and Susan Keipper Meell<br />

2019 Launched second strand <strong>of</strong> Afterschool Cohort, focusing on human innovation<br />

in space exploration, natural disasters, and energy<br />

Launched Blue Apple projects to help teachers implement project-based learning<br />

2020 Launched Flex PD, customizable pr<strong>of</strong>essional development services for schools<br />

Launched Better Together, virtual networking events for school administrators<br />

49


Building on success, embracing the future<br />

Van Andel Institute’s story began with a vision: to make<br />

Grand Rapids a world leader in biomedical research<br />

and education, for the betterment <strong>of</strong> human health for<br />

generations to come. In the last 25 years, we’re happy to<br />

say that this dream has become a reality.<br />

Over the years, we’ve made vital breakthroughs in<br />

diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s, and in the areas<br />

<strong>of</strong> cell biology, structural biology, and metabolism<br />

and nutrition. We’ve found evidence <strong>of</strong> the origins <strong>of</strong><br />

Parkinson’s disease in places you wouldn’t expect, such<br />

as the nose and the appendix. We are a powerhouse <strong>of</strong><br />

epigenetics research, investigating the very code that makes<br />

us who we are.<br />

Through it all, we are committed to translating discovery<br />

into the clinic, where it can help people live longer, healthier<br />

lives. You’ve read about our array <strong>of</strong> clinical trials designed<br />

to find effective new treatments — work that we are excited<br />

to continue and expand in the coming years.<br />

VAI also remains dedicated to developing the next<br />

generation <strong>of</strong> scientists who will build on the foundations<br />

laid by our world-class faculty. Our expert educators<br />

at Van Andel Institute for Education <strong>of</strong>fer cutting-edge<br />

science educational programming for K–12 educators and<br />

students, and Van Andel Institute Graduate School trains<br />

the scientific leaders <strong>of</strong> tomorrow through a rigorous Ph.D.<br />

program in molecular and cellular biology.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

50


We celebrate these achievements, but we also know that<br />

our work is far from done. The Institute is growing, pushing<br />

toward a future <strong>of</strong> boundless potential and innovation.<br />

Let’s recap some recent successes outlined in these<br />

pages. As <strong>of</strong> fall 2021, VAI had recently brought on six new<br />

faculty members under a recruitment push to expand our<br />

research capacity in our areas <strong>of</strong> strength.<br />

In August 2021, the Graduate School welcomed its largest<br />

and most diverse student cohort yet: 14 students from<br />

eight countries. Van Andel Institute for Education has deftly<br />

responded to upheavals in the educational landscape by<br />

tailoring its programs to be available online, in-person or a<br />

hybrid <strong>of</strong> the two — positioning us well as a reliable asset<br />

to educators everywhere.<br />

All these achievements could not be accomplished without<br />

community. We want to thank every person, every school<br />

and organization, and every family that has contributed<br />

to our success over the years. There are countless who<br />

invested their time, energy and resources into our work,<br />

and we are so grateful for the support <strong>of</strong> our mission<br />

through your generosity.<br />

In large part because <strong>of</strong> this support, Van Andel Institute<br />

has come so far in just a quarter-century. From those early<br />

days, with a staff in the dozens and temporary research<br />

space at Butterworth Hospital, we’ve grown into an<br />

organization boasting nearly 500 scientists, educators and<br />

staff, with work that is recognized around the world.<br />

The Medical Mile continues to spring up around VAI, and<br />

we’re proud to be part <strong>of</strong> such strong investment and<br />

growth in the health and biomedical sciences in Grand<br />

Rapids. Our founders’ vision set the pace and tone for a<br />

bright future where VAI can help lead the charge into a<br />

healthier future for all <strong>of</strong> humankind.<br />

To our dedicated supporters,<br />

Van Andel Institute is proud <strong>of</strong> all that we’ve<br />

accomplished in the last quarter-century. But more than<br />

that, we are immensely grateful for the support you<br />

have given us from the very beginning.<br />

Whether you give <strong>of</strong> your time, energy, impact or funds,<br />

we appreciate you more than we can say. The incredible<br />

research and education breakthroughs that come<br />

from VAI could not happen without the support <strong>of</strong> our<br />

community. Your generosity helps make sure we can<br />

continue our work to improve health and enhance lives.<br />

Thank you for 25 wonderful years — we look forward to<br />

many more!<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS<br />

51


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

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