2021 Annual Report

This is the 2021 Annual Report for Van Andel Institute.

This is the 2021 Annual Report for Van Andel Institute.


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

ANNUAL<br />


Van Andel Institute began with a vision:<br />

to improve human health.<br />

A hub for ideas and advancements, the Institute is fueled by a<br />

community of bright minds who share a relentless curiosity and<br />

a deep commitment to make the world a better place through<br />

biomedical research into diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s, as<br />

well as K–12 and graduate education.<br />

At Van Andel Institute, we do more than dream about improving<br />

human health. We strive to make it a reality every day.

Table of Contents<br />

2 A letter from David Van Andel<br />

4 Research<br />

6 Research highlights: Epigenetics<br />

8 Research highlights: Neurodegenerative<br />

Science<br />

10 Research highlights: Cell Biology<br />

11 Van Andel Institute earns prestigious<br />

grant to train the next generation of cancer<br />

epigenetics experts<br />

12 Research highlights: Structural Biology<br />

13 VAI scientists recognized as highly<br />

cited researchers<br />

14 Research highlights: Metabolism and<br />

Nutritional Programming<br />

15 Translating impact from lab to clinic<br />

16 VAI principal investigators<br />

24 Van Andel Institute Graduate School:<br />

An innovative approach to graduate<br />

education<br />

28 Education<br />

30 Education highlights<br />

34 Events and Philanthropy<br />

36 Event photos<br />

44 Signature special event sponsors<br />

46 The Howard Miller Company: Community<br />

support with global impact<br />

48 Blake Crabb: Meet the newest JBoard<br />

Ambassadors co-chair<br />

50 Philanthropy highlights<br />

52 Circle of Hope and by the numbers<br />

53 Institute leadership team<br />

54 Board Members<br />

56 Board of Governors<br />

57 JBoard Ambassadors<br />


A letter from David Van Andel<br />

Dear Friends and Supporters,<br />

As Van Andel Institute concludes celebrating its first<br />

25 years and embarks on the next quarter-century of<br />

service to a world in need, we approach our mission<br />

with a sense of humility and gratitude.<br />

We trust you’ll find those feelings reflected in the<br />

pages of this annual report — a chance for all of us at<br />

the Institute to express how incredibly grateful we are<br />

for the countless individuals and organizations who<br />

support our ongoing efforts to distinguish ourselves as<br />

a global player in biomedical research and education.<br />

Arguably more than at any time in recent history, we<br />

live in a state of constant flux, immersed in a world<br />

becoming more connected and more complex by<br />

the day. No matter how the world turns, however,<br />

we remain committed to conducting cutting-edge<br />

research into diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s,<br />

Alzheimer’s, related dementias and more. We’ve also<br />

cemented our place as a leader in scientific education,<br />

serving students as young as 5 years old through Ph.D.<br />

candidates.<br />

Dive into the world’s most prestigious journals, and<br />

you’ll discover papers authored by our own scientists<br />

— more evidence of our tireless quest to draw from the<br />

best and brightest this planet has to offer.<br />

Our roles as leaders and collaborators are becoming<br />

well-known around the world. In <strong>2021</strong>, five of our<br />

scientists were named to the Clarivate Highly Cited<br />

Researchers List — an honor bestowed on fewer than<br />

1 in 1,000 scientists. We also earned record-breaking<br />

funding support throughout <strong>2021</strong> and reacted swiftly<br />

and with savvy to tailor our educational programs to<br />

hybrid classrooms created to counter the effects of<br />

the pandemic.<br />

From humble beginnings, VAI has emerged as a<br />

principal player on the world stage. But not a single<br />

accomplishment could have been achieved without your<br />

support. Community is the lifeblood of our existence,<br />

and we are beyond grateful for all those who have<br />

chosen to partner with us on our voyage of discovery.<br />

From all of us at Van Andel Institute — and the millions<br />

on whose behalf we work with such zeal — thank you,<br />

and God bless you.<br />

Sincerely,<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Van Andel Institute Chairman & CEO<br />













Department of Epigenetics<br />

Scientists in Van Andel Institute’s Department of<br />

Epigenetics seek to understand how epigenetic<br />

changes may either protect us from or predispose us<br />

to complex diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s and<br />

metabolic disorders. They do so by:<br />

Building on the basics: From uncovering the<br />

underpinnings of disease to understanding the<br />

mechanisms that propel the spread of diseases like<br />

cancer, VAI scientists are dedicated to revealing<br />

the molecular machinery that underlies a variety of<br />

complex disorders.<br />

Translating discovery: Institute scientists are<br />

committed to putting laboratory discoveries to work<br />

in the real world by helping to translate them into<br />

actionable new treatments that can better combat<br />

disease and save lives.<br />

Moving new therapies into the clinic: VAI works<br />

closely with leading medical organizations in the U.S.<br />

and abroad to take new therapies into the doctor’s<br />

office through clinical trials, which are vital for<br />

ensuring new treatments are safe and effective. The<br />

Institute is home to the Van Andel Institute–Stand<br />

Up To Cancer (VAI–SU2C) Epigenetics Dream Team,<br />

a multi-institutional, collaborative effort that brings<br />

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

research and clinical organizations in an effort to<br />

translate scientific discoveries into new standards of<br />

patient care. The goal is simple — get new and more<br />

effective cancer therapies to patients faster. For more<br />

information on our clinical collaborations, please see<br />

page 15.<br />

<strong>2021</strong> HIGHLIGHTS<br />

Early study points to potential therapeutic<br />

avenue for a pair of rare pediatric diseases<br />

(Dr. Piroska Szabó) — VAI scientist Dr. Piroska<br />

Szabó and colleagues have devised a new approach for<br />

detecting and potentially heading off the effects of two<br />

rare pediatric diseases before birth.<br />

The study, performed in lab models of the diseases and<br />

published in Cell <strong>Report</strong>s, represents an important step<br />

toward much-needed early interventions for Beckwith-<br />

Wiedemann syndrome and Silver-Russell syndrome.<br />

Both diseases result in growth-related symptoms in<br />

children and often lead to additional problems later<br />

in life, such as increased cancer risk from Beckwith-<br />

Wiedemann syndrome and increased metabolic disease<br />

risk from Silver-Russell syndrome. 1<br />

Study explores how environmental exposures<br />

before conception may impact fetal<br />

development (Dr. Peter A. Jones) — A report<br />

published in Proceedings of the National Academy of<br />

Sciences suggests older age and alcohol consumption<br />

in the year leading up to conception may epigenetically<br />

alter a specific gene during development of human eggs,<br />

or oocytes.<br />

Although the study did not determine the ultimate<br />

physical effects of this change, it provides important<br />

insights into the intricate relationship between<br />

environmental exposures, genetic regulation and<br />

human development. 2<br />

Study reveals source of DNA mutations in<br />

melanoma (Dr. Gerd Pfeifer) — The mutations<br />

that give rise to melanoma result from a chemical<br />

conversion in DNA fueled by sunlight — not just a<br />

DNA copying error as previously believed, reports a<br />

study by Van Andel Institute scientists published in<br />

Science Advances.<br />

The findings upend long-held beliefs about the<br />

mechanisms underlying the disease, reinforce the<br />

importance of prevention efforts and offer a path<br />

forward for investigating the origins of other<br />

cancer types. 3<br />

Coriell Institute for Medical Research,<br />

Van Andel Institute awarded estimated<br />

$12.4 million SPORE grant from National<br />

Cancer Institute (Dr. Peter A. Jones and<br />

Dr. Stephen Baylin) — The Coriell Institute for<br />

Medical Research and VAI were awarded a prestigious<br />

Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (or<br />

SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute<br />

(award P50CA254897). The five-year grant valued<br />

at an estimated $12.4 million supports nearly<br />

20 scientists as they work to improve epigenetic<br />

therapies for cancer. The project is co-led by Coriell’s<br />

President and CEO Dr. Jean-Pierre Issa, VAI’s Chief<br />

Scientific Officer Dr. Peter A. Jones and Johns Hopkins<br />

University and VAI’s Dr. Stephen Baylin.<br />



Van Andel Institute, Maine Medical Center<br />

Research Institute scientists earn $9.6 million<br />

Transformative Research Award from National<br />

Institutes of Health (Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik)<br />

— VAI’s Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik and Maine Medical<br />

Center Research Institute’s Dr. Joseph Nadeau earned a<br />

five-year, $9.6 million Transformative Research Award<br />

from the National Institutes of Health to answer a set<br />

of questions that could fundamentally transform our<br />

understanding of health and disease: If you were born<br />

multiple times under the exact same circumstances,<br />

would you turn out to be the same person each time?<br />

And if not, what implications could the differences<br />

have for your health?<br />

The answers could revolutionize our understanding<br />

of how probabilistic variation influences health before<br />

birth and throughout life — and provide insights into<br />

new strategies for combating cancer, obesity and a<br />

host of other health concerns and diseases.<br />

This groundbreaking research is made possible by<br />

a Transformative Research Award, part of the NIH<br />

Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research<br />

Program. The award promotes cross-cutting,<br />

interdisciplinary approaches to projects that have<br />

potential to create new paradigms or challenge<br />

existing ones, according to NIH. 4<br />

American Cancer Society grant to support<br />

Van Andel Institute research into anti-cancer<br />

medications (Dr. Scott Rothbart) — Dr. Scott<br />

Rothbart earned a four-year, $792,000 Research<br />

Scholar’s Grant from the American Cancer Society to<br />

investigate the mechanisms that power a promising<br />

class of potent anti-cancer drugs.<br />

The drugs, called EZH2 inhibitors, work by targeting<br />

an enzyme called EZH2 that has long been of interest<br />

to cancer researchers because it interacts with the<br />

proteins that support DNA. As such, EZH2 plays a major<br />

role in switching genes that regulate cell proliferation<br />

“on” or “off” — a process that can lead to cancer if it<br />

goes awry. It also helps tumors evade attack by the<br />

immune system.<br />

Because of their central role in all aspects of health<br />

and disease, proteins and the molecules that interact<br />

with them, such as EZH2, often are powerful targets<br />

for therapeutic development. Currently, several EZH2<br />

inhibitors are undergoing clinical trials in cancer. 5 7<br />

Funding Acknowledgements<br />

Research reported in this publication was funded by:<br />

1<br />

Van Andel Institute and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R01GM064378 (Szabó).<br />

2<br />

Van Andel Institute and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award no. F32GM129987 (Carpenter).<br />

3<br />

Van Andel Institute and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R21CA228089 (Pfeifer).<br />

4<br />

The Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health under award no. 1R01HG012444 (Pospisilik and Nadeau).<br />

5<br />

A Research Scholar Grant, RSG-21-031-01-DMC (Rothbart) from the American Cancer Society.<br />

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other granting organizations.

Department of Neurodegenerative Science<br />

The Institute’s Department of Neurodegenerative<br />

Science is home to experts in Parkinson’s disease<br />

and other progressive neurological disorders such as<br />

Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and depression.<br />

Our goal is to improve quality of life for patients by:<br />

Impeding disease progression: VAI scientists are<br />

working to better understand the complex causes of<br />

Parkinson’s in order to develop new treatments that<br />

slow or stop the disease’s progression or even prevent<br />

it altogether — something no current treatment<br />

can do.<br />

Developing ways to repair the brain: The<br />

symptoms of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative<br />

diseases occur when certain brain cells are damaged<br />

or killed. At the Institute, scientists are exploring<br />

innovative ways to repair this damage and restore<br />

lost function.<br />

Designing more definitive diagnostic methods:<br />

There are currently no definitive diagnostic tests for<br />

Parkinson’s, which complicates treatment decisions<br />

and puts an undue burden on people with the disease.<br />

Institute scientists are searching for biological<br />

indicators called biomarkers, which can be assessed<br />

objectively and used to improve diagnosis.<br />

Investigating the underpinnings of Alzheimer’s<br />

and other disorders: VAI’s research extends<br />

beyond Parkinson’s into diseases like Alzheimer’s,<br />

frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral<br />

sclerosis, and depression and suicidality.<br />

<strong>2021</strong> HIGHLIGHTS<br />

Blood markers can predict depression in pregnancy (Dr. Lena Brundin) — Signs of<br />

inflammation in the blood reliably predict and identify severe depression in pregnancy, reported a study led<br />

by Van Andel Institute’s Dr. Lena Brundin and Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services’ Dr. Eric Achtyes.<br />

The team’s analysis established a set of 15 biological markers found in the blood that can predict if pregnant<br />

women will experience significant depressive symptoms with more than 80% accuracy. The findings could<br />

give physicians a much-needed tool to identify women who may be at risk for depression and better tailor<br />

their care throughout pregnancy. 1<br />

Insights into a gene implicated in inherited Parkinson’s may shed light on the disease’s<br />

broader underpinnings (Dr. Darren Moore) — Although we don’t yet know exactly what causes more<br />

than 90% of Parkinson’s disease cases, the insights gleaned from the remaining 10% may help us better<br />

understand — and one day better treat — all types of the disease. This small subset of cases is caused by<br />

changes in certain genes that are passed down through families. Now, Dr. Darren Moore and his team have<br />

found that one of these genes, VPS35, is a key player in the maintenance and survival of brain cells that<br />

regulate movement. They also discovered that problems with this gene appear to interfere with cellular<br />

housekeeping, allowing clumps of sticky proteins to form that damage brain cells. Their findings have<br />

implications not only for Parkinson’s but also for diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 2<br />

‘Roadmaps’ of the brain reveal regions vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease (Dr. Michael<br />

Henderson) — Much like a supply truck crossing the countryside, the misfolded proteins that damage<br />

neurons in Alzheimer’s disease travel the “roads” of the brain, sometimes stopping or even re-routing<br />

to avoid roadblocks, reports a study by VAI’s Dr. Michael Henderson and collaborators at University of<br />

Pennsylvania. Understanding how and why this happens could clear the way for the development of new<br />

therapies to slow or stop disease progression. 3<br />

Van Andel Institute scientists and collaborators receive more than $15 million in grants to<br />

accelerate Parkinson’s disease research (Dr. Michael Henderson and Dr. Hong-yuan Chu)<br />

— Two VAI scientists and their collaborators were awarded more than $15 million to advance Parkinson’s<br />

disease research and accelerate development of new therapies.<br />

This pair of awards, called Collaborative Research Network grants, comes from Aligning Science Across<br />

Parkinson’s, a coordinated research initiative to accelerate the pace of discovery and inform the path to a<br />

cure for Parkinson’s through collaboration, research-enabling resources and data sharing.<br />



VAI’s Dr. Michael Henderson and colleagues at Yale University and University of Pennsylvania were awarded<br />

$9 million to identify areas and cell types in the brain that may be particularly vulnerable to Parkinson’s disease. 4<br />

VAI’s Dr. Hong-yuan Chu and colleagues at Emory University were awarded $6.3 million to investigate the brain’s<br />

motor cortex — which helps manage movement — and its role in Parkinson’s. Changes to the cells that comprise<br />

this critical brain region have long been implicated in the disease. They also will collaborate with scientists at<br />

SUNY Downstate and INSCOPIX. 5<br />

Understanding gut inflammation may hold clues to mitigating Parkinson’s onset (Dr. Patrik<br />

Brundin) — Chronic inflammation in the gut may propel processes in the body that give rise to Parkinson’s<br />

disease, according to a study by Dr. Patrik Brundin’s lab at VAI and colleagues at Roche. The findings add to a<br />

growing list that links the gut and the immune system to Parkinson’s, and track with several large-scale studies<br />

that show an association between Parkinson’s and inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and<br />

Crohn’s disease. 6<br />

Funding Acknowledgements<br />

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

1<br />

Van Andel Institute, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services and the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under award no.<br />

R01MH104622 (Brundin). The clinical trial identifier is NCT02566980.<br />

2<br />

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under award nos. R01NS105432 (Moore), R01NS117137 (Moore) and R01NS101958<br />

(Cowell); American Parkinson Disease Association (Sargent); and Van Andel Institute.<br />

3<br />

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research award no. 16879 (Henderson); the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under award nos.<br />

T32AG000255 (Lee), P30AG010124 (Trojanowski) and U19AG062418 (Trojanowski); the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of<br />

Health under award nos. P50-NS053488 (Trojanowski) and R01NS099348 (Bassett); the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under award<br />

no. F30MH118871-01 (Cornblath); and the National Science Foundation under award nos. PHY1554488 (Bassett) and BCS1631550 (to Bassett). Bassett also acknowledges support<br />

from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the ISI Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Paul G. Allen Foundation.<br />

4<br />

Funds from Yale University as part of an Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s Collaborative Research Network award.<br />

5<br />

Funds from Emory University as part of an Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s Collaborative Research Network award.<br />

6<br />

Van Andel Institute and Roche. Early work on this project was supported in part by the European Research Council.<br />

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other granting organizations.<br />


Department of Cell Biology<br />

Our health, and consequently our lives, depends on the coordinated activities of our individual cells;<br />

diseases arise when the activities of these cells become derailed. Through combined expertise in different<br />

cell types and communication mechanisms and using state-of-the-art approaches, scientists in VAI’s<br />

Department of Cell Biology pursue fundamental research to understand how our cells grow, communicate,<br />

survive, assemble into tissues and organs, respond to the environment, and change with age. This<br />

transformative work will yield new diagnostic and treatment strategies to improve the quality of life for<br />

people with cancer, bone diseases and rare disorders.<br />

Studying how cells assemble and repair organs: VAI scientists are looking closely at how cells replicate<br />

and gradually become specialized, particularly in the skeleton and the blood. The department’s labs focus on<br />

understanding a host of cellular processes, including how cells sense the changes in the body, how cells adjust to<br />

meet these needs, how cells talk to and work with each other, how the aging process damages cell integrity and<br />

contributes to disease, and how to restore the proper cellular function in aging organs.<br />

Understanding how derailed cells trigger cancers: Cancer can occur when cells get derailed during growth<br />

or specialization. VAI scientists are investigating the genetic and molecular cues for abnormal cell activity in<br />

the development of cancers, including leukemia, breast cancer, sarcomas and pancreatic cancer. They aim to<br />

translate this knowledge into novel approaches for diagnosis and treatment.<br />

Exploring how cellular processes change over time: As our cells age, changes arise that lead to dysfunction<br />

and disease. VAI scientists are exploring how cellular processes that function seamlessly in healthy people can<br />

fail as people age. This research may one day inform treatments to delay or prevent osteoarthritis, bone fragility<br />

and cancer.<br />

<strong>2021</strong> HIGHLIGHTS<br />

Van Andel Institute scientist earns<br />

$2.4 million grant to investigate cellular<br />

communication in development and disease<br />

(Dr. Stephanie Grainger) — Dr. Stephanie Grainger<br />

was awarded a $2,375,000, five-year Maximizing<br />

Investigators’ Research Award from the National<br />

Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National<br />

Institutes of Health. This prestigious grant will support<br />

Grainger’s exploration of a critical type of cellular<br />

communication that drives healthy development and,<br />

when disrupted, can spur cancer, osteoporosis, heart<br />

conditions and other diseases. 1<br />

VAI scientists sleuth out key differences<br />

between tumors that may inform treatment<br />

for a rare disease (Dr. Matt Steensma) —<br />

Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a rare disorder that<br />

causes the growth of benign tumors on tissues, such<br />

as skin, and on the protective sheath that covers nerve<br />

cells. These tumors can be painful and debilitating,<br />

especially if they put too much pressure on nerves. In<br />

<strong>2021</strong>, the lab of Dr. Matt Steensma identified important<br />

genetic and epigenetic differences between NF1-related<br />

nerve and skin tumors, giving scientists a potential<br />

path forward for developing more precise treatments<br />

that target these tumors at their molecular roots. 2<br />

Funding Acknowledgements<br />

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

1<br />

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of<br />

Health under award no. R35GM142779 (Grainger).<br />

2<br />

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Neurofibromatosis<br />

Therapeutics Acceleration Program (NTAP) (Steensma).<br />

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

represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other granting<br />

organizations.<br />



Van Andel Institute earns prestigious grant to train the next generation of cancer epigenetics experts<br />

The National Cancer Institute awarded Van Andel<br />

Institute a five-year, $1.7 million grant to establish a<br />

cutting-edge training program for postdoctoral fellows in<br />

cancer epigenetics, a growing field with untold potential<br />

to impact human health.<br />

The Cancer Epigenetics Training Program combines<br />

extensive professional development with comprehensive,<br />

interdisciplinary research training by VAI’s internationally<br />

recognized cadre of experts. Postdoctoral trainees<br />

also have access to the Institute’s state-of-the-art<br />

shared scientific resources and technologies as well as<br />

opportunities to participate in established translational<br />

research programs and partnerships led by VAI<br />

investigators.<br />

Epigenetic abnormalities are universally found across<br />

cancers and serve as major drivers for malignancy, making<br />

them promising new targets for the development of novel<br />

cancer therapies. As such, the field — and its capacity for<br />

producing breakthroughs — is rapidly expanding.<br />

“In the past few years, VAI has become a global<br />

destination for groundbreaking, collaborative cancer<br />

epigenetics research,” said VAI Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Dr. Peter A. Jones. “Postdoctoral trainees will emerge<br />

from our Cancer Epigenetics Training Program with<br />

extensive, rigorous training and a solid foundation from<br />

which to launch their independent research careers.”<br />

Jones and VAI Associate Professor Dr. Scott Rothbart will<br />

lead the program in collaboration with Dr. Erica Gobrogge,<br />

program director of VAI’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.<br />

The program also benefits from the guidance of its<br />

advisory committee, which includes renowned scientists<br />

from across the U.S.<br />

The Cancer Epigenetics Training program is supported by a National Cancer Institute<br />

T32 training grant (no. T32CA251066). The content is solely the responsibility of VAI and<br />

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

“In the past few years,<br />

VAI has become a<br />

global destination<br />

for groundbreaking,<br />

collaborative cancer<br />

epigenetics research.”<br />

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

VAI Chief Scientific Officer<br />


Department of Structural Biology<br />

Scientists in the Institute’s Department of Structural<br />

Biology aim to understand the most basic building<br />

blocks of biology to inform our understanding of<br />

health and disease, and to aid in the development of<br />

new, improved medications for an array of disorders.<br />

Studying the foundations of life: VAI scientists<br />

are investigating the mechanisms that allow our DNA<br />

to replicate as well as the molecules at the core of<br />

some of our most vital systems, such as temperature<br />

regulation, communication between cells, and energy<br />

production and regulation.<br />

Turning weaknesses into strengths: VAI scientists<br />

are investigating molecular vulnerabilities in bacteria,<br />

such as those that cause tuberculosis and urinary tract<br />

infections, and in diseases, such as cancer, to find ways<br />

to leverage these weaknesses for treatment.<br />

Aiding drug discovery: By better understanding<br />

molecular structure and function, the work of VAI<br />

scientists could aid in the development of more<br />

targeted medications with fewer side effects.<br />

<strong>2021</strong> HIGHLIGHTS<br />

A ‘tasty’ protein may lead to new ways to treat metabolic and immune diseases (Dr. Wei Lü and<br />

Dr. Juan Du) — The same taste-sensing molecule that helps you enjoy a meal from your favorite restaurant may<br />

one day lead to improved ways to treat diabetes and other metabolic and immune diseases. TRPM5 is a specialized<br />

protein concentrated in the taste buds, where it helps relay messages to and from cells. It has long been of<br />

interest to researchers due to its roles in taste perception and blood sugar regulation. VAI scientists<br />

Dr. Wei Lü and Dr. Juan Du published the first-ever high-resolution images of TRPM5, which reveal two areas<br />

that may serve as targets for new medications for diseases like diabetes. The structures also may aid in the<br />

development of low-calorie alternative sweeteners that mimic sugar. 1<br />

Fighting back against the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (Dr. Huilin Li) — Tuberculosis (TB) is<br />

one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, sickening 10 million people each year and claiming 1.5 million lives.<br />

Although treatments exist, they can have side effects and must be taken consistently over several months.<br />

VAI’s Dr. Huilin Li and his team are seeking out vulnerabilities in the bacteria that cause TB. They are studying the<br />

microbes’ Pup-proteasome system, which the bacteria use to fend off attacks by the immune system so they can<br />

survive inside immune cells and lie dormant for years.<br />

Using the Institute’s powerful cryo-electron microscope (cryo-EM), Li and his team are developing detailed<br />

blueprints of Pup-proteasome that can aid in the development of anti-TB medications. They also are investigating<br />

several compounds that disable the bacterial Pup-proteasome system while sparing the infected person’s own<br />

proteasome system, which plays crucial roles in health. 2,3<br />

Funding Acknowledgements<br />

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

1<br />

Van Andel Institute; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award nos. R56HL144929 (Lü) and R01HL153219 (Lü); a McKnight<br />

Scholar Award (Du); a Klingenstein-Simons Scholar Award (Du); a Sloan Research Fellowship in neuroscience (Du); and a Pew Scholars in Biomedical Research Award from the<br />

Pew Charitable Trusts (Du).<br />

Lü also is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R01NS112363 and by the National<br />

Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R35GM138321. Du also is supported by the National Institute of Neurological<br />

Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under grant no. R01NS111031. Ruan is supported by an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship under<br />

award no. 20POST35120556.<br />

2<br />

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award nos. R01AI143714 (Lin), R21144552 (Lin) and R01AI070285 (Li); the<br />

Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute and Weill Cornell Medicine Matching Fund (Lin); and the Milstein Program in Translational Medicine. Kahne is supported<br />

in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease under award no. T32AI007180.<br />

3<br />

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award nos. R01AI070285 (Li) and U19AI111143 (Glickman and Nathan); and<br />

the National Cancer Institute under award no. P30CA008748 (Glickman).<br />

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other granting organizations.<br />



VAI scientists recognized as highly<br />

cited researchers<br />

It’s no secret that VAI scientists are among the world’s<br />

best. In <strong>2021</strong>, five of our investigators were honored with<br />

inclusion on the Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers List,<br />

a distinction marking them as leaders in their fields.<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

• Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Deputy Chief Scientific Officer<br />

• Russell Jones, Ph.D.<br />

Chair, Department of Metabolism and<br />

Nutritional Programming<br />

• Peter W. Laird, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Department of Epigenetics<br />

• X. Edward Zhou, Ph.D.<br />

Senior Research Scientist, Li Lab,<br />

Department of Structural Biology<br />

The annual list identifies scientists from around the<br />

world who demonstrate significant influence in their<br />

area of study through the publication of multiple<br />

highly cited papers during the last decade. Citations,<br />

or references, to a scientist’s published work by other<br />

researchers is universally considered to be a measure of<br />

influence and impact in the scientific community. Only<br />

about 1 in 1,000 scientists in the world make this elite<br />

list, according to Clarivate.<br />


Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming<br />

By developing a detailed understanding of metabolism<br />

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

epigenetics, VAI scientists aim to develop metabolismbased<br />

therapies and interventions with the ultimate<br />

goal of improving human health. Their areas of focus<br />

include:<br />

Understanding metabolism in health and<br />

designing preventative strategies: Metabolism is<br />

a key part of virtually every aspect of human health.<br />

By understanding its basic mechanics and how this<br />

vast system is regulated, scientists hope to develop<br />

strategies to maintain healthy function and prevent<br />

diseases caused by metabolic breakdowns.<br />

Determining how metabolic problems contribute<br />

to disease and translating these findings into<br />

new therapies: Some diseases, like diabetes, stem<br />

almost entirely from metabolic dysfunction while<br />

others, like cancer and Parkinson’s, are thought to be<br />

at least partially fueled by problems with metabolism.<br />

Determining how and why these problems occur will<br />

give scientists the insights needed to design new, more<br />

effective therapies for these tough-to-treat disorders.<br />

Investigating the impacts of nutrition and<br />

metabolism across generations: Can our diets<br />

affect our children? Or their children? If so, can<br />

we ensure a healthier future by mitigating what<br />

we eat now? These are some of the questions the<br />

Institute’s Department of Metabolism and Nutritional<br />

Programming hopes to answer.<br />

<strong>2021</strong> HIGHLIGHTS<br />

Study probes how diet and metabolism<br />

influence the immune system (Dr. Russell<br />

Jones) — A pair of scientists from VAI and the National<br />

Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases were<br />

granted a three-year, $1.5 million Allen Distinguished<br />

Investigator award as recommended by The Paul G.<br />

Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute,<br />

to better understand how diet and metabolism<br />

influence the immune system’s ability to fight off<br />

threats such as infections.<br />

By the end of the project, lead investigator Dr. Russell<br />

Jones of VAI and co-investigator Dr. Yasmine Belkaid<br />

of NIAID hope to find new therapeutic options for<br />

boosting protective immunity while preventing<br />

autoimmunity, which occurs when some immune cells<br />

mistakenly attack the body.<br />

An overactive sweet tooth may spell trouble<br />

for our cellular powerplants (Dr. Ning Wu) —<br />

Although we’ve long known that eating too much sugar<br />

can contribute to Type 2 diabetes and other disorders,<br />

the exact way this overconsumption sets the stage for<br />

metabolic diseases on a cellular level has remained<br />

elusive. But in <strong>2021</strong>, a study led by VAI’s Dr. Ning Wu<br />

showed that surplus sugar may cause our cellular<br />

powerplants — called mitochondria — to become less<br />

efficient, reducing their energy output. The findings<br />

highlighted the cellular implications of excessive sugar<br />

consumption and provide an important new model to<br />

study the initial metabolic events that may contribute<br />

to diabetes development. 1<br />

14<br />

Funding Acknowledgements<br />

1<br />

Research reported in this publication was supported by Van Andel Institute; the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R01GM120129 (Wu); and the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of<br />

Health under award no. RF1AH061872 (Han). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Translating impact from lab to clinic<br />

Established at Van Andel Institute in 2020, the VAI<br />

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

provide support and infrastructure for VAI scientists<br />

seeking to develop and implement translational<br />

cancer and Parkinson’s projects in Grand Rapids,<br />

West Michigan and beyond.<br />

Through clinical trials, like those supported by the<br />

Institute’s Focal Centers, research breakthroughs in<br />

the lab may become tangible treatments for those<br />

facing diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s.<br />

Cancer Center<br />

The VAI Cancer Center supports projects and clinical<br />

trials for several different types of cancer in partnership<br />

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

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

Epigenetics Dream Team<br />

The Institute is home to the Van Andel Institute–<br />

Stand Up To Cancer (VAI–SU2C) Epigenetics Dream<br />

Team, a multi-institutional, collaborative effort<br />

that brings together several of the world’s most<br />

respected research and clinical organizations in<br />

an effort to translate scientific discoveries into new<br />

standards of patient care. The goal is simple — get<br />

new and more effective cancer therapies to<br />

patients faster.<br />

Research by the numbers<br />

14 Trials launched<br />

575+ Patients<br />


Parkinson’s Disease Center<br />

The VAI Parkinson’s Disease Center supports projects<br />

and clinical trials that investigate potential therapies<br />

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

possible with existing treatments.<br />

International Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT)<br />

The Cure Parkinson’s–Van Andel Institute<br />

International Linked Clinical Trials (iLCT) Initiative<br />

identifies potential new therapies for Parkinson’s<br />

from medications developed to treat other<br />

diseases that also show potential for impeding<br />

Parkinson’s progression. By doing so, iLCT aims<br />

to significantly cut the amount of time it takes for<br />

a potential treatment to move from the lab to<br />

clinical trials and, ultimately, to the patient.<br />

Research by the numbers<br />

28 Trials launched<br />

3,500+ Patients<br />

Van Andel Institute for Research<br />

Ranked in <strong>2021</strong> by Nature<br />

Index as no. 24 in the Life<br />

Sciences category out of the<br />

top 100 nongovernmental/<br />

nonprofits (up from 29)<br />

39 faculty 8 cores<br />

3 fellows of the<br />

American Association<br />

for the Advancement<br />

of Science<br />

2 fellows of the American<br />

Association for Cancer<br />

Research Academy<br />

2 members of the<br />

National Academy<br />

of Sciences<br />

1 member of the<br />

American Academy of<br />

Arts and Sciences<br />

123 peer-reviewed<br />

papers published<br />

in <strong>2021</strong><br />


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

Van Andel Institute for Research<br />

is home to a team of scientists<br />

dedicated to improving the health<br />

and enhancing the lives of current<br />

and future generations through<br />

groundbreaking biomedical research.<br />


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

Chief Scientific Officer; Director,<br />

Cancer Center<br />

Dr. Peter A. Jones is a pioneer in<br />

epigenetics, a growing field that<br />

explores how genes are regulated<br />

and provides new avenues for<br />

developing therapies for cancer and other diseases. His<br />

discoveries have helped usher in an entirely new class<br />

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

and are being investigated in other tumor types. Jones is<br />

a past president of the American Association for Cancer<br />

Research, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, a Fellow of the<br />

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

a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a<br />

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

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

Deputy Chief Scientific Officer;<br />

Director, Parkinson’s Disease<br />

Center<br />

Dr. Patrik Brundin investigates<br />

molecular mechanisms in<br />

Parkinson’s disease, with the<br />

goal of developing new therapies aimed at slowing or<br />

stopping disease progression or repairing damage.<br />

He is one of the top-cited researchers in the field of<br />

neurodegenerative disease and leads international<br />

efforts to repurpose drugs to treat Parkinson’s.<br />

Scott Jewell, Ph.D.<br />

Director, Core Technologies and<br />

Services; Director, Pathology<br />

and Biorepository Core;<br />

Professor, Department of Cell<br />

Biology<br />

Dr. Scott Jewell leads VAI’s<br />

Core Technologies and Services, which provides<br />

technology and specialized expertise for research<br />

investigators. Services include bioinformatics and<br />

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

genomics, pathology and biorepository, metabolomics,<br />

vivarium management, and transgenics. Jewell is a past<br />

president of the International Society for Biological and<br />

Environmental Repositories (ISBER).<br />

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

President and Dean, Van Andel<br />

Institute Graduate School;<br />

Professor, Department of<br />

Epigenetics<br />

Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg is the<br />

dean of Van Andel Institute<br />

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

31 years of productive research, explored the genetic<br />

and epigenetic control systems of viruses to understand<br />

how infections progress and to reveal new ways<br />

to stop them. His discoveries with herpes simplex<br />

viruses opened up new possibilities for antiviral drug<br />

development and revealed new insights into how human<br />

cells control gene expression.<br />


Department of<br />

Epigenetics<br />

Virtually all 37.2 trillion cells in our bodies have the<br />

same DNA, the spiraling molecule that contains the<br />

genetic instructions required to make us who we are.<br />

But if every cell works from the same playbook, how<br />

and why does the human body have so many different<br />

types of cells? Why do some become skin cells while<br />

others become muscle cells, heart cells or brain cells?<br />

The answer is epigenetics — a complex set of processes<br />

that determine when and to what extent certain genetic<br />

instructions are carried out. Epigenetic processes are<br />

vital for healthy cellular function and, when things go<br />

awry, they can play major roles in disease.<br />

By investigating the epigenetic processes that fine-tune<br />

DNA, Van Andel Institute scientists aim to pinpoint the<br />

origins of complex diseases and determine how they<br />

are impacted by our past and present, and how they<br />

influence future generations.<br />

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

Chair and Professor<br />

Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik seeks<br />

to understand how we become<br />

whom we become, and how our<br />

disease susceptibility is defined<br />

from early on in life, even before<br />

conception, with the long-term goal of being able to<br />

predict lifelong health outlook at birth.<br />

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

Director’s Scholar; Professor<br />

Dr. Stephen Baylin studies the<br />

body’s genetic control systems —<br />

called epigenetics — searching for<br />

vulnerabilities in cancer. Baylin<br />

is a pioneer in this field and was<br />

among the first to trace epigenetic causes of cancer. His<br />

studies have led to new therapies for breast, lung and<br />

colorectal cancers, among others. He is co-leader of the<br />

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

Dream Team, a Director’s Scholar at VAI and co-head of<br />

Cancer Biology at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer<br />

Center at Johns Hopkins University.<br />


Nick Burton, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Dr. Nick Burton explores how<br />

our environment, especially<br />

microbes, can impact our health<br />

and the health of our offspring<br />

— even before they are born. His<br />

research has extensive implications for understanding<br />

how epigenetics contributes to human disease and how<br />

the environment we are exposed to today affects not<br />

only our own health, but also our children’s.<br />

Yvonne Fondufe-Mittendorf,<br />

Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Dr. Yvonne Fondufe-Mittendorf<br />

investigates how environmental<br />

factors, such as toxicants, impact<br />

our genetic code and contribute<br />

to cancer. Her research is illuminating powerful new<br />

insights that could influence our understanding of<br />

health and disease, providing a path forward for new<br />

strategies for cancer prevention and treatment.<br />

In Memoriam<br />

On April 13, <strong>2021</strong>, the world lost Dr. George Vande Woude, Van Andel Institute’s founding research director and a world-renowned scientist<br />

whose storied career revolutionized our understanding of cancer. His vast scientific contributions, exceptional vision and commitment to<br />

building world-class research programs will galvanize discovery and scientific excellence for years to come.<br />

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

Founding Research Director;<br />

Professor<br />

Among Dr. Vande Woude’s most lauded breakthroughs is the 1984 discovery of the human MET oncogene, which is now a major target<br />

for personalized cancer therapies. He was the first to determine the structure and enhancer function of long terminal repeats, specific<br />

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

genes, or oncogenes. These foundational discoveries — along with the findings detailed in more than 300 published,<br />

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

Over his career, Dr. Vande Woude accrued an impressive list of scientific accolades. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in<br />

1993, and the American Association for Cancer Research Academy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013.<br />


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />


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

Professor<br />

Dr. Peter W. Laird seeks a detailed<br />

understanding of the molecular<br />

foundations of cancer, with a<br />

particular focus on identifying<br />

crucial epigenetic alterations that<br />

convert otherwise healthy cells into cancer cells. He<br />

is an international leader in this effort and has helped<br />

design some of the world’s state-of-the-art tools to<br />

aid in epigenetics research. Laird also is a principal<br />

investigator for the National Cancer Institute’s Genome<br />

Data Analysis Network and played a leadership role in<br />

The Cancer Genome Atlas, a multi-institutional effort to<br />

molecularly map cancers.<br />

Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Dr. Gerd Pfeifer studies how<br />

the body switches genes on and<br />

off, a biological process called<br />

methylation that, when faulty, can<br />

lead to cancer or other diseases.<br />

His studies range from the effect<br />

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

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

brain from neurodegeneration.<br />

Scott Rothbart, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Scott Rothbart studies the<br />

ways in which cells pack and<br />

unpack DNA. This elegant process<br />

twists and coils roughly 2 meters<br />

of unwound DNA into a space less<br />

than one-tenth the width of a human hair. Although this<br />

process is impressive, it is also subject to errors that can<br />

cause cancer and other disorders. Rothbart seeks new<br />

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

Hui Shen, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Hui Shen develops new<br />

approaches to cancer prevention,<br />

detection and treatment by<br />

studying the interaction between<br />

genes and their control systems,<br />

called epigenetics. Her research focuses on women’s<br />

cancers, particularly ovarian cancer, and has shed new<br />

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

cancer types.<br />

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Dr. Xiaobing Shi investigates the<br />

mechanisms that regulate DNA<br />

and gene expression to better<br />

understand how they impact<br />

cancer development. His research<br />

has led to the discovery of several new “readers” of<br />

epigenetic marks that may serve as targets for cancer<br />

treatment.<br />

Piroska Szabó, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Piroska Szabó studies the flow<br />

of epigenetic information from<br />

parents to their offspring, with a<br />

focus on how epigenetic markers<br />

are remodeled during egg and<br />

sperm production, and how these markers are rewritten<br />

after fertilization. These processes have profound<br />

implications on fertility and embryo development.<br />

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

Assistant Professor<br />

As a statistician and<br />

computational biologist with an<br />

interest in clonal evolution and<br />

cancers of the blood, the work<br />

of Dr. Tim Triche, Jr., focuses<br />

on wedding data-intensive molecular phenotyping to<br />

adaptive clinical trial designs in an effort to accelerate<br />

the pace of drug targeting and development in rare or<br />

refractory diseases.<br />

Hong Wen, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Hong Wen investigates the<br />

molecular underpinnings of<br />

pediatric cancers, with a focus<br />

on how epigenetic dysregulation<br />

impacts gene expression and<br />

drives malignancy. Her work holds great promise<br />

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

devastating diseases.<br />



Department of Neurodegenerative Science<br />

Worldwide, between 7 million to 10 million people<br />

have Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological<br />

condition marked by tremor, rigidity and the gradual<br />

loss of voluntary movement, along with a host of other<br />

symptoms such as loss of sense of smell, cognitive issues,<br />

constipation, trouble sleeping and pain. Additionally,<br />

more than 30 million people have Alzheimer’s disease and<br />

related dementias.<br />

Currently, there is no cure and no effective way to slow or<br />

stop disease progression in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.<br />

VAI scientists aim to change that by investigating the<br />

complex factors that give rise to neurodegenerative and<br />

psychiatric disorders, from genetics and epigenetics to<br />

aging, inflammation and the structure of the brain itself —<br />

even the role of the gut and the immune system.<br />

With the exception of a small number of people whose<br />

Parkinson’s is directly linked to family genetic inheritance,<br />

most cases are sporadic, meaning they have no known<br />

cause. A growing body of evidence suggests that genetic<br />

and epigenetic predisposition coupled with environmental<br />

factors, such as exposure to certain inflammatory agents,<br />

may trigger the disease, which progresses for years or<br />

even decades before the onset of its signature movementrelated<br />

symptoms.<br />

With an aging global population, the number of people<br />

with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s is expected to significantly<br />

increase in the coming years, underscoring the importance<br />

and urgency of developing improved treatment<br />

strategies. By leveraging discoveries made in VAI’s labs<br />

and collaborating with researchers around the world, our<br />

scientists are working to translate breakthroughs into lifechanging<br />

new treatments.<br />

Darren Moore, Ph.D.<br />

Chair and Professor<br />

Dr. Darren Moore seeks new<br />

diagnostic and treatment<br />

approaches for Parkinson’s<br />

by investigating the inherited<br />

form of the disease, which<br />

comprises 5% to 10% of cases. He aims to translate the<br />

understanding of these genetic mutations into better<br />

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

both inherited and non-inherited. Discoveries from<br />

Moore’s lab routinely elucidate the faulty molecular<br />

interactions that transform healthy, functioning neurons<br />

into diseased ones.<br />

José Brás, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. José Brás investigates how<br />

variations in our genes impact<br />

the onset and progression of<br />

neurodegenerative diseases<br />

such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s<br />

and dementia with Lewy bodies.<br />

Using cutting-edge technologies and bioinformatic<br />

approaches, he has identified new genetic mutations that<br />

impact disease risk.<br />

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

Professor<br />

As a psychiatrist and a scientist,<br />

Dr. Lena Brundin seeks ways to<br />

diagnose and treat depression<br />

and suicidality by studying<br />

inflammation of the nervous<br />

system. Her findings may lead to earlier interventions for<br />

depressive patients and to development of a new class<br />

of antidepressants that targets the immune system. She<br />

also investigates how inflammatory mechanisms can<br />

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

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

Assistant Professor<br />

Dr. Hong-yuan Chu investigates<br />

how and why dopamineproducing<br />

cells die off in<br />

Parkinson’s, a process that<br />

underlies many of the disease’s<br />

hallmark symptoms. He plans to leverage this new<br />

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

stop disease progression.<br />

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Dr. Gerhard Coetzee searches<br />

the human genome for minuscule<br />

changes that contribute to the<br />

onset, progression and drug<br />

resistance of many diseases,<br />

including cancer and Parkinson’s. His team deploys<br />

genome sequencing technologies and high-powered<br />

computational arrays to tease out patterns and<br />

interactions of markers and treatment targets from<br />

among the human genome’s more than three billion DNA<br />

base pairs.<br />


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

20<br />



Rita Guerreiro, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Rita Guerreiro parses the<br />

genetic variations that contribute<br />

to neurodegenerative diseases<br />

such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s,<br />

dementia with Lewy bodies and<br />

frontotemporal dementia. Her research has led to new<br />

insights into the genetic contributors to these diseases,<br />

which currently have no cure and no treatments that<br />

slow progression.<br />

Michael Henderson, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Dr. Michael Henderson<br />

investigates the causes of<br />

neurodegenerative diseases like<br />

Parkinson’s and dementia with<br />

Lewy bodies, and the factors<br />

that control disease progression. He hopes to translate<br />

his findings into new therapies that slow or stop this<br />

progression.<br />

Qiang Zhu, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Dr. Qiang Zhu investigates<br />

the genetic, epigenetic and<br />

cellular factors that lead to<br />

neurodegenerative diseases<br />

such as ALS and frontotemporal<br />

dementia. To date, his work has revealed the complex<br />

mechanisms underlying the most common genetic cause<br />

for both of these diseases — an insight that has provided<br />

novel targets for the development of new therapies.<br />

Department of<br />

Cell Biology<br />

Our health, and consequently our lives, depend on the<br />

coordinated activities of our individual cells; diseases<br />

arise when the activities of these individual cells become<br />

derailed. Through combined expertise in different cell<br />

types and communication mechanisms and using stateof-the-art<br />

approaches, scientists in VAI’s Department of<br />

Cell Biology pursue fundamental research to understand<br />

how our cells grow, communicate, survive, assemble into<br />

tissues and organs, respond to the environment, and<br />

change with age. This transformative work will yield new<br />

diagnostic and treatment strategies to improve the quality<br />

of life for people with cancer, bone diseases and rare<br />

disorders.<br />

Tao Yang, Ph.D.<br />

Interim Chair and Associate<br />

Professor<br />

Dr. Tao Yang studies the signaling<br />

systems that govern skeletal stem<br />

cells and the role they play in<br />

diseases such as osteoarthritis<br />

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

adult stem cells, which mature into cartilage, fat or bone<br />

tissue — a process that falters with age. Yang seeks a<br />

better understanding of these systems in search of new<br />

treatments for degenerative bone disorders and other<br />

skeletal aging.<br />

Stephanie Grainger, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Stem cells give rise to every cell<br />

type in the human body and play<br />

important roles in health and<br />

disease. Dr. Stephanie Grainger<br />

seeks to understand how these<br />

special cells develop, how they are maintained, and how<br />

they can become cancerous, with the goal of developing<br />

new strategies for combating cancer.


Brian Haab, Ph.D.<br />

Professor; Associate Dean,<br />

VAI Graduate School<br />

Dr. Brian Haab searches for new<br />

ways to diagnose and stratify<br />

pancreatic cancers based on the<br />

chemical fingerprints tumors<br />

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

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

after they’ve started making people sick. Dr. Haab is<br />

sleuthing out clues to build a library of diagnostic tools<br />

that will help providers diagnose tumors earlier and<br />

optimize treatment.<br />

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

Professor, VAI; Director, DeVos<br />

Cardiovascular Research<br />

Program (a joint effort between<br />

VAI and Spectrum Health);<br />

Medical Director of Research,<br />

Frederik Meijer Heart and<br />

Vascular Institute, Spectrum Health<br />

Dr. Stefan Jovinge develops ways to help the heart heal<br />

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

medicine. As a critical care cardiologist and scientist,<br />

he uses a bench-to-bedside approach in an effort to<br />

give patients with serious heart conditions longer,<br />

healthier lives.<br />

Matt Steensma, M.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Matt Steensma studies the<br />

genetic and molecular factors<br />

that cause benign tumors to<br />

become cancers, in search<br />

of vulnerabilities that may<br />

be targeted for treatment. As a scientist at VAI and<br />

practicing surgeon at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos<br />

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

scientific discoveries into treatments that improve<br />

patients’ lives.<br />

Bart Williams, Ph.D.<br />

Professor<br />

Dr. Bart Williams studies the<br />

building blocks of bone growth<br />

on behalf of the millions<br />

suffering from diseases such as<br />

osteoporosis. He seeks new ways<br />

of altering cell signaling pathways to encourage healthy<br />

bone development and deter cancer spread to the<br />

skeleton.<br />



FUNDING IN <strong>2021</strong><br />

Awards breakdown<br />

Total of active<br />

awards (all):<br />

$139.5 million<br />

Total of active<br />

awards (all):<br />

92<br />

Total new<br />

awards <strong>2021</strong>:<br />

33<br />


Van Andel Institute Principal Investigators<br />

Department of<br />

Structural Biology<br />

Imagine standing on the moon and having eyes so<br />

powerful that you can clearly watch a tennis match on<br />

Earth. Now imagine that same visual power packed<br />

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

groundbreaking technology that allows scientists to study<br />

the smallest components of life in exquisite detail.<br />

Determining the shape of these critical molecules is<br />

vital for understanding their function in health and<br />

disease. Scientists in Van Andel Institute’s Department of<br />

Structural Biology harness cryo-EM and other state-ofthe-art<br />

techniques to visualize molecules that may serve<br />

as treatment targets for cancer, neurological disorders,<br />

metabolic diseases, infectious diseases and more.<br />

They’re revealing groundbreaking new insights into the<br />

most fundamental aspects of biology, from parsing the<br />

ways cells sense and respond to the environment to<br />

illuminating the intricacies of DNA replication. And they’re<br />

laying the foundations for new therapies by revealing how<br />

a drug molecule disables its target protein.<br />

Huilin Li, Ph.D.<br />

Chair and Professor; Director,<br />

Cryo-EM Core<br />

Dr. Huilin Li uses cryo-electron<br />

microscopy (cryo-EM) to reveal<br />

the most basic building blocks<br />

of DNA replication and other<br />

systems vital for life. He has been at the vanguard of<br />

cryo-EM for more than 20 years, and his research has<br />

implications for some of the world’s most critical public<br />

health concerns, including tuberculosis, cancer, mental<br />

illness, and many more.<br />

Juan Du, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Juan Du seeks to<br />

understand the brain’s intricate<br />

communication systems using<br />

state-of-the-art structural<br />

biology approaches, such as cryo-<br />

EM. Her work has revealed new insights into critical<br />

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

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

medications for neurological disorders.<br />

Wei Lü, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Wei Lü is working to unravel<br />

how brain cells communicate<br />

with each other. Using techniques<br />

such as cryo-EM, his work<br />

has contributed to the field’s<br />

understanding of molecules that play crucial roles in the<br />

development and function of the nervous system.<br />

Evan Worden, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Dr. Evan Worden leverages VAI’s<br />

powerful suite of cryo-electron<br />

microscopes to explore the<br />

complex molecular interactions<br />

that give rise to cancer. To date,<br />

his research has revealed novel insights into poorly<br />

understood regulatory elements in the genetic code<br />

and illuminated how aberrations in these processes can<br />

transform healthy cells into malignant ones.<br />



Department<br />

of Metabolism<br />

and Nutritional<br />

Programming<br />

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

right amount of energy and resources in the right place at<br />

the right time. Every aspect of life is fueled by metabolism,<br />

a constant cascade of chemical reactions that ensure we<br />

have the energy to survive and thrive. But sometimes<br />

things go wrong, depriving our cells of the energy and<br />

resources required for healthy function.<br />

When energy production or distribution breaks down, the<br />

results can be catastrophic — diseases such as cancer,<br />

Parkinson’s and diabetes are all known to have varying<br />

degrees of metabolic involvement.<br />

Scientists in Van Andel Institute’s Department of<br />

Metabolism and Nutritional Programming explore the<br />

intricate mechanics of cellular metabolism and their<br />

implications for health and in disease. Using cuttingedge<br />

techniques, they are investigating metabolism’s<br />

interaction with other critical systems, such as the immune<br />

system, and revealing how environmental exposures and<br />

metabolic dysfunction contribute to diseases such as<br />

diabetes, autoimmunity, cancer and neurodegeneration.<br />

Our scientists are also parsing the ripple effect that<br />

nutrition may have through the generations, exploring<br />

how our diets could lay the epigenetic foundations for the<br />

health of our descendants.<br />

Russell Jones, Ph.D.<br />

Chair and Professor<br />

Dr. Russell Jones investigates<br />

metabolism at the cellular level<br />

to understand how it affects<br />

cell behavior and health, with<br />

a specific eye on cancer and<br />

the immune system. By revealing how cancer cells use<br />

metabolic processes to fuel their growth and spread, he<br />

hopes to develop new treatments that help patients by<br />

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

Connie Krawczyk, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Dr. Connie Krawczyk investigates<br />

the links between metabolism,<br />

epigenetics and the immune<br />

system, with the goal of<br />

understanding how they work<br />

together to keep us healthy and, when things go wrong,<br />

to promote disease.<br />

Adelheid Lempradl, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Dr. Adelheid Lempradl is<br />

investigating how the dietary<br />

choices of parents may impact<br />

the health of their offspring<br />

in the hopes of translating her<br />

findings into new ways to prevent disease and create a<br />

healthier future.<br />

Sara Nowinski, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Dr. Sara Nowinski investigates<br />

how cells determine the amount<br />

of energy needed for everyday<br />

life and how they adjust to meet<br />

those requirements. Her research<br />

has uncovered new insights into the intricate balance<br />

between nutrient availability and cellular respiration —<br />

both critical components to maintaining health.<br />

Ning Wu, Ph.D.<br />

Assistant Professor<br />

Dr. Ning Wu investigates the<br />

interface between cellular<br />

metabolism and cellular<br />

signaling, particularly as<br />

they relate to cancer. On the<br />

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

of uncontrolled cell growth, and Dr. Wu believes<br />

that understanding a tumor’s voracious energy<br />

requirements and altered signaling pathways will lead<br />

to new treatments that optimize existing combination<br />

therapies and identify novel therapeutic targets.<br />


Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School prepares students for outstanding careers<br />

as independent scientists who are not only experts in their area of study, but<br />

also in the business of science.<br />

Our students receive a rigorous educational foundation and intense training<br />

in cutting-edge techniques and approaches that prepare them to tackle some<br />

of science’s biggest questions. By the end of their studies at the Institute,<br />

students graduate not only with a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology, but<br />

also with the tools required to build a strong career as a biomedical scientist<br />

and research leader.<br />

Using an innovative, problem-based learning approach, graduate students<br />

learn to conduct high-caliber science focused on understanding the<br />

underpinnings of human disease, as well as prevention, detection and<br />

treatment — blending discovery with invention and insight with application.<br />

In spring <strong>2021</strong>, the Graduate School moved into its new home at 234 N Division<br />

Ave., directly across from the Institute’s main building and next to<br />

Van Andel Institute for Education. The renovated space includes classrooms<br />

and workstations; quiet spaces for students to read, think and study; shared<br />

space where students can interact and collaborate; kitchen and lounge areas;<br />

and a reading room.<br />

The new space allows the Graduate School to comfortably grow into its next<br />

chapter while maintaining the characteristics that have long made it attractive<br />

to students: innovative approaches to teaching, intimate cohort sizes, access<br />

to cutting-edge technology, and guidance by faculty mentors at the top of their<br />

research fields.<br />

24<br />



<strong>2021</strong> HIGHLIGHTS<br />

Thirteen new students joined the Graduate School as part of the fall<br />

<strong>2021</strong> cohort — our largest cohort to date. As of September <strong>2021</strong>, 44 students<br />

were enrolled in our Ph.D. program. The student body included 28 women (64%),<br />

13 international students (30%), two students from populations underrepresented<br />

in the biomedical workforce by National Institutes of Health standards, and four<br />

students enrolled in dual-degree (M.D.-Ph.D.) programs. The Graduate School set a<br />

goal of 15 new students for the incoming fall 2022 cohort.<br />

To date, 34 students have graduated from the Graduate School —<br />

30 Ph.D. and four M.S. Of the 30 Ph.D. graduates, about 70% have gone to<br />

postdoctoral or research associate positions, and 20% have taken positions in<br />

industry.<br />

In fall <strong>2021</strong>, the Graduate School implemented a significantly<br />

restructured core curriculum for first-year students. The curriculum<br />

retains the problem-based learning approach, supplemented with courses focused<br />

on experimental design and biostatistics, data analysis and bioinformatics, scientific<br />

communication, and experimental skills.<br />


Taylor Boyd joined Graduate School leadership. The Institute’s commitment<br />

to training the scientific leaders of tomorrow leapt forward in October <strong>2021</strong> with the<br />

hire of Taylor Boyd as director of assessment and professional development. Boyd,<br />

who previously served in the Office of the Provost at Grand Valley State University,<br />

is responsible for assessing the Graduate School’s curriculum and co-curricular<br />

activities. He also assists VAI faculty in enhancing their teaching and mentoring<br />

skills and is monitoring the progress of student learning, while also leading efforts to<br />

sustain the Graduate School’s accreditation.<br />

The <strong>2021</strong> Origins of Cancer symposium probed the intersection<br />

of cancer and neuroscience, an area that holds great promise for better<br />

understanding the complex biological interactions that give rise to disease. Students<br />

and scientists joined together for the virtual conference, held in July, to discuss how<br />

the future of cancer research may combine two discrete areas of study by exploring<br />

the common threads that unite them. This annual event, organized and hosted by<br />

VAI Graduate School students, serves as a shining example of collaboration — a value<br />

that is at the heart of VAI’s ethos.<br />

Graduate School students and alumni contributed 24 authorships on 17 research<br />

publications in 2020, and 12 authorships on 11 publications in <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

Applicant Pool<br />

Academic Year 2019 2020 <strong>2021</strong><br />

Applicants 68 82 110<br />

Admits 23 25 16<br />

Admit Rate 34% 30% 15%<br />

Number of Graduate<br />

School student<br />

applications, by year:<br />

<strong>2021</strong> — 110<br />

2020 — 82<br />

2019 — 68<br />


An innovative approach to graduate education<br />

Fall <strong>2021</strong> Cohort<br />

6 Domestic 7 International<br />

Ph.D. Career Outcomes by Career Type<br />

Not related to science 5%<br />

(current position, numbers current as of Sept. 1, <strong>2021</strong>)<br />

Further training or education<br />

29%<br />

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

Primarily teaching<br />

Science related<br />

5%<br />

10%<br />

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

Primarily research<br />

52%<br />

0 10 20 30 40 50 60<br />

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

Ph.D. Career Outcomes by Job Sector<br />

(current position, numbers current as of Sept. 1, <strong>2021</strong>)<br />

For-profit<br />

19%<br />

Nonprofit<br />

10%<br />

Academia<br />

71%<br />

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

26<br />














Creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity<br />

and critical thinking thrive<br />

Van Andel Institute for Education is dedicated to<br />

creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity<br />

and critical thinking thrive. Our educators develop<br />

inquiry-based approaches for K–12 education to help<br />

students and teachers prepare the next generation of<br />

problem-solvers.<br />

VAI for Education offers engaging programs for<br />

students, as well as transformative professional<br />

development and instructional tools for teachers.<br />

Our team is committed to promoting a high-quality<br />

education for all children.<br />

Through our programs, students engage in authentic<br />

learning experiences and inquiry-based education,<br />

during which they solve real-world problems. Our<br />

educators work diligently to make the classroom a<br />

place where both students and teachers want to be.<br />


Flex PD: VAI’s popular Flex PD is a comprehensive,<br />

affordable professional development model that<br />

promotes tangible shifts in instruction for teachers<br />

and administrators. Our plans are customizable to fit<br />

educators’ individual needs, and include immersive<br />

workshops, learning sessions and coaching.<br />

Science on the Grand: Science on the Grand: A<br />

STEAM Conference for Inquiry-based Educators brings<br />

teachers and administrators to the Institute for two<br />

days of professional development breakout sessions.<br />

The conference is designed to provide research-based<br />

and classroom-tested content that supports educators.<br />

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Science<br />

on the Grand returns in summer 2022.<br />


Blue Apple TM : Blue Apple project-based learning units<br />

launched in 2019. These ready-made lessons for K–8<br />

teachers bring project-based learning to life in the<br />

classroom.<br />

Project-based learning is a proven educational model<br />

that applies a problem-focused, multidisciplinary<br />

approach to learning. One project can develop<br />

students’ skills in science, math, English language<br />

arts and social studies, as well as skills like social and<br />

emotional learning.<br />

Each Blue Apple project includes engaging lessons<br />

designed to make learning memorable, meaningful and<br />

fun. Educators are provided with supplies, access to a<br />

Project Coach (to ask questions and share ideas), links<br />

to online resources and the opportunity to connect<br />

with other classrooms doing the same projects.<br />

Example projects include “Prevent the Spread,” “What’s<br />

In Your Water?” and “High Energy.”<br />

Blue Apple Timely Topics: In addition to the main<br />

catalog of Blue Apple projects, VAI rolled out a series<br />

of free, 15-minute mini-lessons called Timely Topics.<br />

These lessons are designed to help teachers bring<br />

relevant content to the classroom.<br />

In <strong>2021</strong>, topics included “Celebrating Black History<br />

Month,” “Respectful Debate” and “Spooktacular<br />

STEAM.”<br />

NexGen Inquiry Quests: New for <strong>2021</strong>, NexGen Inquiry<br />

Quests are story-driven video lessons that capture<br />

student interest by introducing them to real-world<br />

problems they can solve with hands-on, scientific<br />

investigations.<br />

Each Quest includes three inquiry-based investigations<br />

that help students exercise critical and creative<br />

thinking, collaboration with peers, and the application<br />

of solutions that will make the world a better place.<br />

In one Quest, students play the role of an electrical<br />

engineer who is troubleshooting a power outage.<br />

In another, students learn “crime scene” forensics<br />

to locate a reptile that’s gone “missing” from VAI’s<br />

classrooms.<br />

30<br />




Transforming instruction for 140,000+ students<br />

in 50 states and 33 countries<br />

Professional development services<br />

provided to 1,673 educators<br />

Inquiry-based learning experiences<br />

provided to 1,566 students<br />

8,000+ educator subscribers<br />

receive instructional resources monthly<br />


Creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity<br />

and critical thinking thrive (continued)<br />


Classroom Field Trips: As each school year begins,<br />

Education offers more than two dozen field trip<br />

experiences for students and teachers.<br />

The Institute was thrilled to welcome students and<br />

teachers back to educational labs in-person in fall<br />

<strong>2021</strong>, with appropriate safety measures in place. Topics<br />

include “Uncovering Our Past,” “Robots and Coding:<br />

The Basics” and “Engineering Design Challenge:<br />

Showering on Mars.”<br />

Curiosity on Wheels: VAI’s Curiosity on Wheels brings<br />

hands-on, inquiry-based STEM opportunities to all<br />

schools. Whether the schools are in a rural area or<br />

local, VAI’s team will come to them and bring the<br />

science, the materials, and the opportunity to create a<br />

memorable, educational experience.<br />

This program, designed for a minimum of 30 students,<br />

is ideal for science across the grades during the school<br />

day or for a lively afterschool event for students and<br />

their families. A variety of investigation stations are set<br />

up and customized for participants, and include topics<br />

such as “Power Up!”, “Amazing Animals,” “Seismic Shake<br />

Up,” and more.<br />

High School Journal Club: High School Journal Club<br />

is a process for scientific discourse that provides<br />

participants with the opportunity to hone scientific<br />

research and communication skills while reviewing<br />

current research.<br />

It brings Grand Rapids students, their teachers and VAI<br />

scientists together in a forum for scientific discourse.<br />

Emulating the practice of VAI scientists, participants<br />

learn to collaborate and read, analyze, present, and<br />

discuss scientific journal articles in a format that is<br />

easily applied in the classroom.<br />


Summer Camps: In <strong>2021</strong>, Education hosted 10 summer<br />

camps, including five new ones. All were sold out, with<br />

240 students participating. Eight of the camps were<br />

geared toward elementary and middle school students,<br />

with two for high school students. Summer camp<br />

learning experiences included “Hogwarts in Grand<br />

Rapids,” “Can You Dig It?” and “Mission to Mars.”<br />

Afterschool Cohort: Afterschool Cohort inspires<br />

groups of students to think and act like scientists<br />

and engineers over the course of one semester.<br />

Through hands-on investigations in two categories —<br />

biodiversity, and human health and human innovation<br />

— students ask questions, investigate hypotheses and<br />

discover answers using scientific tools and resources.<br />

There is no cost to participate in this program; tuition<br />

is underwritten by VAI.<br />

<strong>2021</strong> HIGHLIGHTS<br />

VAI offers free project to educate students on<br />

vaccinations — As teachers continue to press forward<br />

through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that we<br />

equip our students with the knowledge and resources<br />

they need to stay informed. To that end, Van Andel<br />

Institute for Education launched VacciNation — a virtual<br />

Blue Apple project designed to teach students about the<br />

science and history of vaccines.<br />

VacciNation comprises five unique, inquiry-based<br />

lessons for teachers to utilize. Through a series of<br />

engaging activities that include captivating games,<br />

students are given a crash course on vaccines that will<br />

stretch their curiosity and critical thinking skills.<br />

VAI for Education serves more than 3,200<br />

students and educators — During the 2020–<strong>2021</strong><br />

school year, VAI for Education served 1,566 students<br />

and 1,673 educators — the latter a 27% increase over the<br />

prior year.<br />

VAI for Education takes on the challenge of<br />

learning loss — To combat learning loss, VAI hosted<br />

several networking events for K–12 administrators<br />

to help address concerns related to the pandemic.<br />

More than 350 administrators from 20 states and two<br />

continents registered for Better Together events, and<br />

these events and high participation helped support<br />

the creation of “Beyond Learning Loss: 2020–<strong>2021</strong><br />

Education Recovery Plan,” a comprehensive suite of VAI<br />

services that help schools accelerate learning.<br />

All resources mentioned here can be found at vaei.org.<br />

32<br />





EVENTS &<br />










Design & Discovery<br />

All events followed health and safety protocols related to the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic in place at the time of occurrence.<br />

The inaugural Design & Discovery<br />

was held in <strong>2021</strong> at the legendary<br />

Haworth headquarters and showroom<br />

in Holland, Michigan. Merging the<br />

inspiration of modernist furniture<br />

design with the elegant shapes and<br />

colors of contemporary fashion,<br />

Design & Discovery seeks to excite the<br />

imagination and showcase the power<br />

of the creative spirit while raising<br />

philanthropic support for the Institute.<br />

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors,<br />

Haworth and Leigh’s.<br />










JBoard Mixer<br />

EVENTS<br />

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

of vibrant young professionals in West<br />

Michigan who seek to stay current with<br />

and support our work at the Institute.<br />

Members are invited to health-science<br />

forums, luncheons and mixers — like this<br />

one, held in summer <strong>2021</strong> — throughout<br />

the year, where they can hear about<br />

the latest research and educational<br />

innovations at VAI straight from those<br />

who are making it happen.<br />





<strong>2021</strong> JBOARD MIXER HELD AT THE<br />



VAI Golf Outing<br />

In September <strong>2021</strong>, golfers gathered at<br />

the majestic Wuskowhan Players Club<br />

in West Olive, Michigan, for the 14th<br />

annual VAI Golf Outing. The <strong>2021</strong> event<br />

featured a scramble tournament, lunch,<br />

dinner and a brief award presentation.<br />

For nearly 15 years, the VAI Golf Outing<br />

has brought the golf community of<br />

West Michigan together in support of<br />

the Institute’s biomedical research and<br />

educational programs.<br />

Thank you to our Title Sponsor, the<br />

Veldheer, Long, Mackay & Bernecker<br />

Group of Merrill Lynch.<br />











Couture for a Cure<br />

EVENTS<br />

Back live and in action, Couture for a Cure<br />

brought glitz, glam and generosity<br />

together at the Institute for a 16th year.<br />

The event featured a New York-style<br />

runway show by Leigh’s and highlighted<br />

the fall <strong>2021</strong> collection of designer<br />

Veronica Beard. Co-founders of the<br />

eponymous brand — Veronica Miele Beard<br />

and Veronica Swanson Beard — shared a<br />

special virtual message with the evening’s<br />

guests, who also enjoyed a seated dinner,<br />

table service and fabulous musical stylings<br />

from AB. Guests also learned more about<br />

VAI’s work into ovarian cancer research.<br />

New products and on-trend looks from<br />

Artistry appeared on the runway, and<br />

all guests took home swag bags of<br />

exclusive gifts, treats and Artistry TM<br />

products.<br />

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor,<br />

Leigh’s, and our Title Sponsor, Amway.<br />









Hope on the Hill Gala — Mission: Made Possible<br />

As the culminating event of our 25th<br />

anniversary, the 21st annual Hope on the<br />

Hill Gala marked a quarter century of<br />

progress at the Institute with a night of<br />

glamour, mystery and support of VAI’s<br />

mission. Guests broke out their best<br />

black-tie attire to celebrate those who,<br />

for the past 25 years, have helped make<br />

great strides at the Institute: our donors,<br />

our community, and the scientists and<br />

educators they support. The event<br />

included a seated dinner of delectable<br />

cuisine and artisan cocktails, live<br />

entertainment from AB and world-class<br />

electroviolinist Svet, and presentations<br />

from Institute leaders on VAI’s history,<br />

breakthroughs and dreams for the<br />

future.<br />

Thank you to our Title Sponsor, Fifth<br />

Third Private Bank.<br />


EVENTS<br />











A Conversation About Pancreatic Cancer<br />

Hosted By Carol Van Andel<br />

Despite incredible advances in cancer<br />

detection and treatment, pancreatic<br />

cancer continues to pose a particular<br />

challenge to physicians and patients<br />

because it often lacks obvious early<br />

symptoms. By the time the disease is<br />

found, it is typically quite advanced,<br />

complicating treatment and leading to<br />

poorer patient outcomes.<br />

But thanks to new breakthroughs,<br />

there is hope. In November, guests at A<br />

Conversation About Pancreatic Cancer —<br />

Hosted by Carol Van Andel learned about<br />

the latest advances in pancreatic cancer<br />

research, with a focus on promising<br />

opportunities for early detection.<br />

Speakers included pancreatic cancer<br />

experts Dr. Brian Haab, a VAI professor<br />

whose lab is at the forefront of new<br />

diagnostic efforts, and Dr. J. Bradley<br />

Morrow, director of endoscopy at Mercy<br />

Health St. Mary’s. For the past five years,<br />

Drs. Haab and Morrow have collaborated<br />

on developing new diagnostics for<br />

pancreatic cancer.<br />

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor,<br />

The Howard Miller Company.<br />







Gaming for Hope<br />

EVENTS<br />

In <strong>2021</strong>, VAI hosted our inaugural<br />

Gaming for Hope, a fully online,<br />

24-hour gaming marathon that<br />

blended a passion for online gaming<br />

and streaming with raising funds to<br />

support the Institute’s work. Streamers<br />

of all ages and experience levels played<br />

numerous games over the course of<br />

the day, including single-player FIFA 21,<br />

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, League of<br />

Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global<br />

Offensive. Featured streamers joined<br />

in on the action, and giveaways and<br />

prizes were up for grabs for those who<br />

fundraised for the Institute.<br />

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor,<br />

Element Four.<br />







Signature special event sponsors<br />

We are grateful to have extraordinarily dedicated signature event sponsors. Thank you for partnering with us and supporting<br />

our mission throughout the year.<br />

Advantage Commercial Real Estate<br />

Alpine Events<br />

Al & Robin Koop Foundation<br />

Amway<br />

Andy J. Egan Company<br />

Aon<br />

Applied Imaging<br />

Aquinas College<br />

Rob & Dawn Arnoys<br />

AssurancePlus<br />

Autocam Medical<br />

James & Shirley Balk<br />

Steven & Amanda Barbour<br />

John & Ginny Baysore<br />

Jeff & Meg Bennett<br />

Betz Industries<br />

BHS Insurance<br />

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi<br />

Dave & Jill Bielema<br />

Bluewater Technologies<br />

Chuck & Christine Boelkins<br />

Robert & Sandra Borsos<br />

Bouma Corporation<br />

The Brooks Family<br />

Buist Electric<br />

Byrne Electrical Specialists<br />

Caledonia Dental Group<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Cancer & Hematology Centers of<br />

Western Michigan, P.C.<br />

Cascade Engineering<br />

Cauley Ferrari of Detroit<br />

Cheeky Strut<br />

Consumers Credit Union<br />

Ryan & Jessica Cook<br />

Cornerstone University<br />

Cottage Home<br />

Crowe LLP<br />

Mimi Cummings<br />

Tom & Tracy Curran<br />

The Currie Foundation<br />

Custer Inc.<br />

CWD Real Estate Investment<br />

Czech Asset Management<br />

Randy Damstra & Julie Duisterhof<br />

Davenport University<br />

David & Carol Van Andel Family<br />

Foundation<br />

Deloitte<br />

Dominique & Julie DeNooyer<br />

Mike & Jean Dery<br />

Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation<br />

The Douglas & Maria DeVos Foundation<br />

Brian DeVries & Barbara Pugh<br />

Dunn & Laug Wealth Management at<br />

Morgan Stanley<br />

Edge Natural Resources<br />

Eenhoorn<br />

Eileen DeVries Family Foundation<br />

Mike & Barb Ellis<br />

Pete & LeAnn Engles<br />

Erhardt Construction<br />

Ernst & Young<br />

Eurest<br />

EV Construction<br />

Fifth Third Private Bank<br />

First National Bank of Michigan<br />

Gallagher<br />

Geerlings Development Company/<br />

Midwest Construction Group<br />

Grand Rapids Christian Schools<br />

Grand Valley State University<br />

Greenridge Realty, Inc.<br />

Martin & Peggy Greydanus<br />

Jana Hall<br />

Jeff & Ann Harten<br />

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger<br />

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate<br />

Matthew & Jennifer Haworth<br />

HB Wealth Management<br />

The Hilldore Group — Baird<br />

Hines Corporation<br />

Holland Hospital<br />

Hope College<br />

Howard Miller Company<br />

Heidi Huizenga<br />

J.C. & Tammy Huizenga<br />

Huizenga Group<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

Bill & Starr Humphries<br />

ICN Foundation<br />

Inontime<br />

James Group<br />

Jandernoa Foundation<br />

Jeffery Roberts Design<br />

John Hancock Financial Services<br />

Matt & Sarah Jones<br />

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones<br />

Craig & Debra Kinney<br />

Kool Auto Group<br />

Blake & Mary Krueger<br />

John & Katie Kuiper<br />

Kyle Geenen Group<br />

Lake Michigan Credit Union<br />

Al & Linda Lanning<br />

Ray & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Leigh’s<br />

Loomis, Sayles & Company, L.P.<br />

Gary & Vicky Ludema<br />

Dr. Jurgen & Becky Luders<br />

Macatawa Bank<br />

McAlvey Merchant & Associates<br />

McShane & Bowie PLC<br />

Meijer<br />

The Meijer Foundation<br />

Mercy Health<br />

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

Mackay & Bernecker Group<br />

Michigan Homes & Cottages<br />

Michigan State University College of<br />

Human Medicine<br />

Midwest Capital Advisors<br />

Mike Schaap Builders, Inc.<br />

Bill & Pat Mills<br />


EVENTS<br />

MMS Education<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Mike & Sally Murdock<br />

Paul & Anne Nemschoff<br />

New Holland Brewing Co.<br />

Nicolai North America<br />

Northern Jet Management<br />

NPF Investment Advisors<br />

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.<br />

Padnos<br />

Pageworks<br />

Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation<br />

The Peter F. Secchia Family<br />

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services<br />

P.L. Capital<br />

Lee & Alexandra Perez<br />

Pioneer Construction<br />

Pitsch Companies<br />

Plastic Surgery Associates, PC<br />

Priority Health<br />

Progressive AE<br />

Quality Air Service<br />

Red Glasses Movement<br />

Rockford Construction<br />

Eve Rogus & Paul Becker<br />

Lisa M. Rose & Dr. Ken Hoffman<br />

Rowerdink Inc.<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Marc & Jeanne Schupan<br />

Secrest Wardle<br />

Tony & Dawn Semple<br />

SeyferthPR<br />

Sharpe<br />

SIBSCO<br />

Spectrum Health<br />

David & Linda Spencer<br />

Craig & Wendy Spoelhof<br />

John & Judy Spoelhof<br />

Scott & Jan Spoelhof<br />

Rob & Susan Stafford<br />

Standard Lumber<br />

Steelcase Inc.<br />

Stephen Klotz Family Foundation<br />

The Steve & Amy Van Andel Foundation<br />

Kathleen Steward Ponitz<br />

Thomas & Mary Stuit<br />

Summit Point Roofing<br />

Taconic<br />

Kenneth & Nancy Teutsch<br />

Thomas S. Fox Family<br />

Truscott Rossman<br />

University of Michigan Health-West<br />

US Signal<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

Mike & Michelle Van Dyke<br />

Dan & Ann Van Eerden<br />

Dave & Beth VanPortfliet<br />

Christian & Kara VerMeulen<br />

Visbeen Architects Inc.<br />

Russ & Chris Visner<br />

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP<br />

Wells Fargo<br />

West Michigan Woman<br />

Geoff & LeeAnne Widlak<br />

Williams Kitchen & Bath<br />

Bart & Wendy Williams<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Wolverine Worldwide<br />

Woodways International<br />

YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids<br />

Zip Xpress, Inc.<br />

Jim & Jane Zwiers<br />

Thank you to all donors and guests<br />

who supported us through our virtual<br />

events in <strong>2021</strong>, including:<br />

• Winterfest Celebration<br />

• VAI Forum on Depression &<br />

Inflammation<br />

• Carol Van Andel Angel of<br />

Excellence Virtual Dinner & Award<br />

Presentation<br />

• Grand Rapids Griffins VAI Purple<br />

Community Game<br />

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

• Around the World<br />

• VAI Virtual Public Lecture Series<br />

• Virtual Coffee Connection Events<br />

While we wish we could have seen<br />

more of you in person in <strong>2021</strong>, we<br />

are so happy you were able to join us<br />

in some capacity to celebrate VAI’s<br />

research and education efforts from<br />

the last year — and the last quarter<br />

century.<br />


The Howard Miller Company:<br />

Community support with global impact<br />

When the Miller family learned that Jay and Betty<br />

Van Andel planned to establish a biomedical research<br />

and science education facility in Grand Rapids, they<br />

immediately saw the potential for it to have a global<br />

impact on human health.<br />

“My father, Jack H. Miller, knew and respected Jay and<br />

Betty,” recalled Howard “Buzz” Miller, chairman and<br />

CEO of the Zeeland-based Howard Miller Company,<br />

which specializes in heirloom clocks, cabinets and a<br />

variety of furnishings. “He believed in their vision<br />

for Van Andel Institute, and our company quickly<br />

re-directed our philanthropic donations from an<br />

out-of-state research facility to the Institute.”<br />

Twenty-five years later, the Howard Miller Company<br />

and the Miller family continue to be among VAI’s most<br />

ardent supporters. Their annual gifts help the Institute<br />

fulfill its mission of enhancing the lives of current and<br />

future generations through inspired science education<br />

and innovative research programs into diseases like<br />

cancer and Parkinson’s.<br />


“Part of our company’s legacy is how we share our<br />

resources with others. We’re both humbled and proud to<br />

help Van Andel Institute continue to make its mark on<br />

our world.” Howard “Buzz” Miller<br />

Howard Miller Company’s values are deeply aligned<br />

with VAI’s. Both share a passion for community, so it<br />

was a natural fit for the company to support publicfacing<br />

events that help community members learn<br />

more about the work happening in VAI’s labs and<br />

classrooms.<br />

“Not every research facility opens its doors and<br />

allows audiences to get up-close and personal with<br />

its scientists and educators,” Miller said, noting that<br />

this chance to learn first-hand about VAI’s work allows<br />

people to learn and grow personally, and brings a layer<br />

of transparency to the research process.<br />



“I know my father is gratified to see the progress made<br />

not only at VAI, but also along the entire Medical Mile,”<br />

Miller said. “Grand Rapids has a great deal to be proud<br />

of, and the Institute’s research has far-reaching, global<br />

impact. For those of us who are always seeking ways<br />

to make a change, that’s the best of both worlds — to<br />

make a difference in West Michigan, and at the same<br />

time, to create dynamic changes across the world in<br />

the battle against disease.”<br />

Pillars of the community, the Howard Miller Company<br />

and the Miller family have a long history of giving back.<br />

We are grateful they have been at our side over the last<br />

quarter-century, helping us transform lives through<br />

discovery and provide hope for a healthier future.<br />


Blake Crabb: Meet the newest JBoard Ambassadors co-chair<br />

Van Andel Institute’s JBoard Ambassadors are a group of vibrant young professionals<br />

in West Michigan who seek to stay current with and support our work at the Institute.<br />

Members are invited to health-science forums, luncheons and mixers throughout the<br />

year, where they hear about the latest research and educational innovations at VAI,<br />

straight from those who are making it happen.<br />

In <strong>2021</strong>, VAI’s JBoard welcomed Blake Crabb as co-chair. Crabb is manager of field sales<br />

training — oncology at Amgen, and serves alongside long-time co-chair Rachel Mraz in<br />

providing leadership to the JBoard.<br />

Let’s get to know our newest JBoard co-chair:<br />

How did you first become involved with Van Andel Institute?<br />

In 2012, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A friend invited me to an event<br />

where I learned about the research being conducted at VAI. It was at this event that I met<br />

my friend — and now my fellow JBoard Co-Chair — Rachel Mraz.<br />

What influenced your decision to become a member of the VAI JBoard?<br />

I appreciated the tangible ability to make a difference and knowing my involvement<br />

would help raise awareness and funds for research that I believe in my heart will lead us<br />

to life-changing treatments.<br />

What do you hope to accomplish as a JBoard co-chair?<br />

I have many goals I would like to accomplish as co-chair. Most importantly, though, is<br />

expansion. Expanding our membership will allow us to increase awareness of the work<br />

being done at VAI, ultimately leading to more funding for groundbreaking research being<br />

done in the labs.<br />

The Grand Rapids Metro area is growing, and we have a great opportunity to attract<br />

more members along with their positive energy and ideas. In addition to bringing in<br />

more young professionals from Grand Rapids, we hope to make more connections on the<br />

lakeshore, in places like Grand Haven, Muskegon and Holland.<br />




What does VAI’s work mean to you?<br />

The work being done at VAI gives me hope. Losing a parent to cancer — especially one<br />

as aggressive as pancreatic cancer — is something I don’t want anyone to experience.<br />

Knowing that every day there are scientists focused on finding ways to treat pancreatic<br />

cancer earlier and more effectively means that, one day, fewer people will have to say<br />

goodbye to a loved one.<br />

What would you say to someone on the fence about joining VAI’s JBoard?<br />

What are you waiting for?! Get involved! Unfortunately, most of us know someone that has<br />

faced cancer, Parkinson’s or another devastating disease. Getting involved with the JBoard<br />

means you get the opportunity to help raise awareness and funds for the research being<br />

done at VAI, and we have a lot of fun doing it with events throughout the year!<br />

What is your favorite event hosted by or in support of VAI?<br />

All of the VAI events are awesome and unique. There’s such a talented team behind the<br />

scenes that makes every event a memorable occasion. Hope on the Hill is my favorite, and<br />

I look forward to it every year! Over the years we’ve had so many creative and fun themes,<br />

and I love seeing what’s next.<br />

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience on the JBoard or with<br />

the Institute?<br />

VAI has taken hope from concept to reality. The feeling of hope we all have is shared by the<br />

dedicated scientists that have come from all over the world to study and work right here in<br />

Grand Rapids. Every time I walk into VAI, hope is palpable and thriving!<br />

For more information about VAI’s JBoard Ambassadors, including how to get involved,<br />

visit bit.ly/VAIJBoard.<br />




Philanthropy<br />

VAI Marathon Team ready to get back to it<br />

After two years of waiting and a smaller-than-usual<br />

number of runners in the <strong>2021</strong> races — both due to<br />

the COVID-19 pandemic — the VAI Marathon Team is<br />

coming back strong in 2022, with a limited number<br />

of complimentary entries to four races for runners<br />

fundraising on behalf of the Institute:<br />

• BMW Berlin Marathon: Sept. 25<br />

• TCS London Marathon: Oct. 2<br />

• Bank of America Chicago Marathon: Oct. 9<br />

• TCS New York City Marathon: Nov. 6<br />

Each year, dedicated runners train for these grueling<br />

races while raising funds for the Institute. They<br />

have each been touched by the diseases studied by<br />

VAI scientists (including cancer, Parkinson’s, and<br />

Alzheimer’s and related dementias), whether through<br />

a loved one’s diagnosis or even their own. They also<br />

understand the immeasurable value of the Institute’s<br />

K–12 and graduate education programs in training the<br />

next generation of scientific leaders, and they want to<br />

do their part to make sure VAI’s efforts can continue to<br />

improve health and enhance lives for years to come.<br />

Bee Brave beats pandemic odds to support VAI<br />

Organizers of the annual Bee Brave 5K overcame<br />

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

event Oct. 9, <strong>2021</strong>. The race, held every fall at Shagbark<br />

Farm in Caledonia, Michigan, directly benefits<br />

Van Andel Institute’s breast cancer research. The race<br />

raised more than $56,000 in 2020, and more than<br />

$81,000 in <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

50<br />




<strong>2021</strong> PURPLE GAME


VAI Purple Community school partners show unwavering support for<br />

the Institute<br />

Like Van Andel Institute, our incredible community and school partners deeply value<br />

collaboration and hard work. They work directly with the grassroots fundraising<br />

program VAI Purple Community to use their valuable time, effort and connections to<br />

support VAI’s research and education programs.<br />

In <strong>2021</strong>, VAI Purple Community programs raised more than $380,000, which — as is<br />

true for all funds raised through VAI events — goes directly to the work happening at<br />

the Institute.<br />

A few highlights from last year’s VAI Purple Community events include:<br />

• West Ottawa Public Schools, which hosts fundraisers all year long in support<br />

of VAI. The girls’ soccer team was able to hold their Purple Game at the end of the<br />

2020–21 school year. The players wore specially made jerseys featuring the names<br />

of people dear to them who have been affected by cancer, Parkinson’s or another<br />

disease.<br />

• Otsego Public Schools, which hold a huge football game in support of VAI<br />

every other year, thanks in large part to Holly McCaw, Otsego’s director of<br />

communications and a 2020 recipient of the Carol Van Andel Angel of Excellence<br />

Award. In <strong>2021</strong>, they postponed their VAI Purple Community event to the spring,<br />

which transformed into the first-ever VAI Purple Community Otsego 5K.<br />

• Duncan Lake Middle School, which has partnered with VAI for many years for its<br />

annual cancer walk. In <strong>2021</strong>, the walk was held outside in the spring. Attendees<br />

could donate to dunk a teacher in a dunk tank, participate in a silent auction<br />

online, or purchase a variety of popsicles, ice cream and other cool treats, with all<br />

funds going directly to cancer research at the Institute.<br />

With year-end fundraiser, VAI Student Ambassadors illustrate it’s<br />

what you do that defines you<br />

Van Andel Institute’s Student Ambassador Program emphasizes and accentuates the<br />

power and passion exuded by the younger generations. Twenty-eight students came<br />

together virtually for the <strong>2021</strong>–22 school year to form the program’s third cohort.<br />

Each group of Student Ambassadors meets once a month throughout the school year<br />

to connect with Institute scientists, educators and staff and learn how their efforts<br />

make a concrete difference to VAI’s work. They also meet with Institute staff to<br />

explore topics such as crafting a communications plan and garnering support from<br />

business sponsors.<br />

VAI Student Ambassadors combine everything they learn in the program<br />

to launch a fundraiser on behalf of the Institute, with 100% of proceeds going<br />

directly to VAI research and education programs. They also receive exclusive<br />

mentorship from the Institute’s heart and soul: Carol Van Andel, executive director<br />

of The David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation and wife of VAI Chairman and<br />

CEO David Van Andel.<br />

The <strong>2021</strong>–22 VAI Student Ambassadors hosted their culminating fundraiser — a<br />

movie night at Celebration Cinema featuring the highly anticipated film “The<br />

Batman” — on March 5, and succeeded in selling out the 300-person theater and<br />

raising more than $3,200.<br />

To learn more about Philanthropy at VAI and how you can get involved,<br />

visit vai.org/help-donate.<br />


Philanthropy<br />

Circle of Hope<br />

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

recognizes those who have included<br />

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

estate plans. Through our acknowledgment of<br />

and gratitude to these exceptional people, we<br />

hope that their generosity will inspire others.<br />

By the numbers<br />

65%<br />

VAI VAI Operating Revenues<br />

2%<br />

4%<br />

29%<br />

$60,600K<br />

$27,300K<br />

$3,700K<br />

$1,900K<br />

Investment return<br />

utilized<br />

Grant & contract<br />

revenue<br />

Contributions<br />

Other revenues<br />

Anonymous (2)<br />

Gasper Amodeo*<br />

Vivian Anderson*<br />

Blanche Ash*<br />

Kevin & Michelle Bassett<br />

Philip* & Shirley<br />

Battershall<br />

John* & Nancy Batts<br />

Fred & Julie* Bogaert<br />

John* & Sharon* Bouma<br />

William & Marilyn<br />

Crawford<br />

31%<br />

Dr. Glenn & Patrice Deibert<br />

Barbara Erhards<br />

J. Scott Grill*<br />

Joan Hammersmith*<br />

Terry & Jackie Hickman<br />

Arthur Jabury*<br />

Maryanna Johnson<br />

Dennis* & Joanne* Kozarek<br />

Renee Kuipers*<br />

Timothy & Kimberly Long<br />

Don* & Kathleen Maine<br />

Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols<br />

Operating VAI Operating Expenses Expenses<br />

4%<br />

65%<br />

$66,100K Research<br />

$31,100K<br />

$4,200K<br />

Management,<br />

general & other<br />

Education<br />

LG* & Helen* Myers<br />

Robert* & Lorraine*<br />

Nyhoff<br />

Jone Phillips*<br />

Donna Rosa<br />

Ronald & Mary Rutkowski<br />

Alan Ryan*<br />

Ralph Siegel*<br />

George Sietsema*<br />

Eva Sonneville*<br />

Alvin* & Hylda* Tuuk<br />

John Van Fossen<br />

John Visser*<br />

Greta Wellington*<br />

Carol Winton*<br />

John Wisneski*<br />

*Indicates deceased<br />

Circle of Hope member<br />

Designated Gifts | $4,418K Total<br />

Unrestricted<br />

51%<br />

9%<br />

31%<br />

3%<br />

2%<br />

3%<br />

$2,242K<br />

$1,367K<br />

$380K<br />

$140K<br />

$120K<br />

$99K<br />

$70K<br />

Other<br />

Unrestricted<br />

Neurodegenerative<br />

Neurodegenerative<br />

Internship Program<br />

Cancer<br />

Education<br />

Internship program<br />

Cardiovascular<br />

Cardiovascular<br />

Cancer<br />

Education<br />

Other (includes scientific event<br />

sponsorships & Metabolism<br />

1%<br />


Institute Leadership Team<br />


David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

David Van Andel is Chairman and CEO of Van Andel Institute in Grand<br />

Rapids, Michigan. He is also an entrepreneur involved in several other<br />

business interests in the natural and life science products industries.<br />

The son of Jay Van Andel, founder of Van Andel Institute and co-founder<br />

of Amway Corporation, David is currently a member of Amway’s Board of<br />

Directors and serves on its Executive, Governance and Audit committees.<br />

Before leading Van Andel Institute, he had held various positions at Amway<br />

since 1977, including chief operating officer of Amway’s Pyxis Innovations<br />

Business Unit, and was senior vice president — Americas and Europe,<br />

overseeing Amway business activities in North America and 22 European<br />

and 11 Latin American affiliates.<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer<br />

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

Deputy Chief Scientific Officer<br />

Jerry Callahan, Ph.D., MBA<br />

Chief Strategic Officer<br />

Thomas R. Curran, Jr., J.D.<br />

General Counsel<br />

Jana Hall, Ph.D., MBA<br />

Chief Operations Officer<br />

Timothy Myers, MBA, CPA<br />

Vice President & Chief Financial Officer<br />

Sam Pinto<br />

Vice President & Chief Facilities Officer<br />

Terra Tarango<br />

Director & Chief Education Officer,<br />

Van Andel Institute for Education<br />

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

President & Dean, Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School<br />

Kathleen Vogelsang, CFA, MBA<br />

Chief Investment Officer<br />

Linda Zarzecki<br />

Vice President of Human Resources<br />


Van Andel Institute Board Members<br />

Van Andel Institute<br />

Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer,<br />

Van Andel Institute<br />

Joan Budden<br />

Former President & Chief Executive Officer,<br />

Priority Health<br />

John Kennedy<br />

President & Chief Executive Officer, Autocam Medical<br />

Mark Meijer<br />

Founder & President, Life E.M.S. Ambulance<br />

Van Andel Research<br />

Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer,<br />

Van Andel Institute<br />

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

Professor & Chairman Emeritus, Department of<br />

Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of<br />

Southern California<br />

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

Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology<br />

& Senior Administrative Physician for Philanthropy<br />

& Community Relations at Helen DeVos Children’s<br />

Hospital<br />

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

Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/<br />

Oncology; Director, University of Chicago<br />

Comprehensive Cancer Center; Director, Cancer<br />

Cytogenetics Laboratory, University of Chicago<br />

Max S. Wicha, M.D.<br />

Madeline & Sidney Forbes Professor of Oncology;<br />

Director, Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery;<br />

Founding Director Emeritus, University of Michigan<br />

Rogel Cancer Center<br />

Van Andel Education<br />

Institute Trustees<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer,<br />

Van Andel Institute<br />

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

President Emeritus, Hope College<br />

Susan Keipper Meell<br />

Chief Executive Officer, MMS Education<br />

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

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity,<br />

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

Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University; President<br />

Emeritus, Aquinas College<br />

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

Former Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools<br />




BOARDS<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate<br />

School Board of Directors<br />

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

Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology<br />

& Senior Administrative Physician for Philanthropy<br />

& Community Relations at Helen DeVos Children’s<br />

Hospital<br />

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

Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Karen Klomparens, Ph.D.<br />

Vice Chair of the Board; Former Dean of the Graduate<br />

School & Associate Provost for Graduate Education,<br />

Michigan State University<br />

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

Chairman of the Board; Distinguished Scholar in<br />

Residence for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Dorothy A.<br />

Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State<br />

University; President Emeritus, Aquinas College<br />

Mary O’Riordan, Ph.D.<br />

Associate Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies<br />

and Frederick C. Neidhardt Collegiate Professor of<br />

Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan<br />

Medical School<br />

Candace T. Smith-King, M.D.<br />

Vice President, Spectrum Health Academic Affairs,<br />

Spectrum Health System; Pediatric Specialist, Helen<br />

DeVos Children’s Hospital<br />

Danny R. Welch, Ph.D.<br />

Founding Chair, Department of Cancer Biology,<br />

University of Kansas Cancer Center<br />

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

External Scientific Advisory Board<br />

Sharon Y.R. Dent, Ph.D. (ESAB Chair)<br />

Professor & Chair, Department of Epigenetics &<br />

Molecular Carcinogenesis; Director, Science Park;<br />

Director, Center for Cancer Epigenetics, MD Anderson<br />

Cancer Center<br />

Xiaodong Cheng, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Department of Epigenetics & Molecular<br />

Carcinogenesis, Division of Basic Sciences, The<br />

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center<br />

Joseph Ecker, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Plant Molecular & Cellular Biology<br />

Laboratory; Director, Genomic Analysis Laboratory,<br />

Salk Institute; Howard Hughes Medical Institute<br />

Investigator; Salk International Council Chair<br />

in Genetics<br />

Theresa Guise, M.D.<br />

Professor, Department of Endocrine Neoplasia &<br />

Hormonal Disorders; Chief, Section of Bone & Mineral<br />

Disorders at The University of Texas MD Anderson<br />

Cancer Center; Cancer Prevention Research Institute<br />

of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar; Co-Director, The Rolanette<br />

& Berdon Lawrence Bone Disease Program of Texas;<br />

Co-Leader, Tumor Microenvironment & Metastasis<br />

program of the IU Simon Cancer Center, NCI<br />

Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

Tony Hunter, Ph.D.<br />

Professor, Molecular & Cell Biology Laboratory;<br />

American Cancer Society Professor; Renato Dulbecco<br />

Chair; Deputy Director, Salk Institute Cancer Center<br />

Anthony E. Lang, M.D.<br />

Senior Scientist, Krembil Research Institute<br />

Director & Professor, Division of Neurology, University<br />

of Toronto; Lily Safra Chair in Movement Disorders,<br />

University Health Network; Director, Edmond J. Safra<br />

Program in Parkinson’s Disease, University Health<br />

Network & University of Toronto; Senior Scientist,<br />

Division of Patient Based Clinical Research, Toronto<br />

Western Research Institute (TWRI); Jack Clark Chair for<br />

Parkinson’s Disease Research, University of Toronto<br />

Mitchell Lazar, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Willard & Rhoda Ware Professor of Diabetes &<br />

Metabolic Diseases; Director, Institute for Diabetes,<br />

Obesity, & Metabolism; University of Pennsylvania<br />

Perelman School of Medicine<br />

Thomas J. Montine, M.D., Ph.D.<br />

Chair & Stanford Medicine Endowed Professor of<br />

Pathology, Stanford University<br />

Max S. Wicha, M.D.<br />

Madeline & Sidney Forbes Professor of Oncology;<br />

Director, Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery;<br />

Founding Director Emeritus, University of Michigan<br />

Rogel Cancer Center<br />


Van Andel Institute Board of Governors<br />

Co-Chairs<br />

Tim Long<br />

Vicky Ludema<br />

Members<br />

Dennis & Barbara Adama<br />

Rosemary Anderson<br />

Walter & Sally Andreatta<br />

Roy Aneed<br />

Rob & Dawn Arnoys<br />

Kurt Arvidson<br />

Heidi Auman<br />

Jeffrey & Cheryl Baker<br />

James & Shirley Balk<br />

Jean Bassett<br />

Jeff & Stephanie Battershall<br />

Stacie Behler<br />

Brian & Tami Jo Beltman<br />

Matthew & Shari Berger<br />

Gregory & Rajene Betz<br />

Franco & Alessandra Bianchi<br />

Dave & Jill Bielema<br />

Dan & Anne Bitzer<br />

Ted & Betsy Boelema<br />

Chuck & Chris Boelkins<br />

Dave & Carrie Boer<br />

Fred Bogaert<br />

Brian Bosgraaf<br />

Jeremy Bouwhuis<br />

Brent & Rachael Brinks<br />

Lenny & Laura Brucato<br />

Douglas & Joan Budden<br />

Jim & Martie Bultman<br />

William & Jackie Bylenga<br />

Carol Bylsma<br />

Jerry & Suzanne Callahan<br />

Scott & Heidi Campbell<br />

Josh & Linda Jo Carron<br />

Randy & Amy Chambers<br />

Peter & Soonmee Cha-Stamos<br />

Tom & Nancy Claus<br />

Steven & Diane Colvin<br />

Charles & Laura Cox<br />

Bill & Marilyn Crawford<br />

Mimi Cummings<br />

Tom & Tracy Curran<br />

Bill Currie<br />

Dave & Karen Custer<br />

Randy & Julie Damstra<br />

Thomas & Jacquie DeJonge<br />

Doug & Sandy Dekock<br />

Mike & Jean Dery<br />

Robert & Allison DeVilbiss<br />

Dick & Betsy DeVos<br />

Douglas & Maria DeVos<br />

Brian & Barbara DeVries<br />

Arlin & Emma Disselkoen<br />

John & Michele Dykema<br />

Mark Eastburg<br />

Mike & Lynette Ellis<br />

Mike & Barb Ellis<br />

Henry & Anne Emrich<br />

Diego Filippi<br />

Tom & Mickie Fox<br />

Michelle Frasier<br />

Tina Freese-Decker<br />

José Pedro Freitas<br />

Todd & Brenda Gardner<br />

Dan & Lou Ann Gaydou<br />

Scott & Jaclyn Geerlings<br />

Mary Glidden<br />

Daniel Goodman<br />

Martin & Peggy Greydanus<br />

Jefra Groendyk<br />

Ron Haan<br />

Peter Hahn<br />

Jana Hall<br />

Tom & Lynn Hammer<br />

Jeff & Ann Harten<br />

Kurt & Madelon Hassberger<br />

Paul & Sheryl Haverkate<br />

Tom Helmstetter<br />

Paulus & Rosemary Heule<br />

Dave & Donna Hockstra<br />

Steve Hodges<br />

Matt & Lynn Hoeksema<br />

Philip & Sharon Hoekstra<br />

J.C. & Tammy Huizenga<br />

Bill & Starr Humphries<br />

Ben & Molly Hunting<br />

John & Laura Hurley<br />

Carl & Kelly Jandernoa<br />

Mike & Sue Jandernoa<br />

Sidney & Cate Jansma<br />

Robert & Lynne Jarman-Johnson<br />

Kurt & Lynn Jekkals<br />

Robert Johnson<br />

Byran Jones<br />

Dr. Peter & Veronica Jones<br />

David & Nancy Kammeraad<br />

Brenda Kastner<br />

John & Nancy Kennedy<br />

Craig & Deb Kinney<br />

Linda Klein<br />

Brian & Terri Kloostra<br />

Steve Klotz<br />

Jerry & Maribeth Kooiman<br />

Al & Robin Koop<br />

Blake & Mary Krueger<br />

Greg & Maureen Kuhl<br />

John & Katie Kuiper<br />

Raymond & Jeannine Lanning<br />

Ken & Bertil Larm<br />

Timothy & Kimberly Long<br />

Steve & Mary Longstreet<br />

Gary & Vicky Ludema<br />

Michael & Suzanne Lunn<br />

David & Cynthia Madiol<br />

Philomena Mantella<br />

Mary Beth Martin<br />

Tom & Jackie McGovern<br />

Michael & Jen McGraw<br />

Mike & Dina McKnight-Dargis<br />

Deb Meijer<br />

Lena Meijer<br />

Mark & Mary Beth Meijer<br />

Rusty & Jenn Merchant<br />

Buzz & Lisa Miller<br />

Jack Miller<br />

Scott Miller<br />

David & Kim Moorhead<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Paul & Anne Nemschoff<br />

Laurie-Ann Netto<br />

Tom & Greta Newhof<br />

Jack Nichols<br />

John Norton<br />

Mike & Liz Novakoski<br />

Juan & Mary Olivarez<br />

Steve & Beth Olson<br />

Rick Pappas<br />

Ken & Jill Peirce<br />

Richard Postma<br />

Jay Preston<br />

John Purcell<br />

Todd Rempe<br />

Garry & Pat Ringnalda<br />

Tom & Brenda Rinks<br />

Jeffery Roberts<br />

Eve Rogus & Paul Becker<br />

Thank you, Board of Governors.<br />

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

Thank you for being our partners and contributing significantly to our success.<br />



Elaine Rongey<br />

Doug Rottman<br />

John & Therese Rowerdink<br />

Gideon Sanders<br />

Mark Satkoski<br />

Michael & Cynthia Schaap<br />

Timothy & Barbara Schowalter<br />

Matt & Sarah Scogin<br />

Tony & Dawn Semple<br />

George & Missy Sharpe<br />

George & Linda Sharpe<br />

Mike & Meredith Slobodnik<br />

John & Judy Spoelhof<br />

Scott & Jan Spoelhof<br />

Robert & Susan Stafford<br />

Frank & Dana Stanek<br />

James & Dolly Strikwerda<br />

Tom & Mary Stuit<br />

Theresa Sullivan<br />

Duke Suwyn<br />

Praveen Thadani<br />

Dr. Steven & Laura Triezenberg<br />

David & Sandy Turner<br />

David & Carol Van Andel<br />

Steve & Amy Van Andel<br />

Sharon Van Dellen<br />

Dan Van Dyck<br />

Michael & Michelle Van Dyke<br />

Daniel & Ann Marie Van Eerden<br />

Donna Van Haren<br />

Maria Van Til<br />

John Van Wylen<br />

Brian & Lori Vander Baan<br />

Allen & Nancy VanderLaan<br />

Patti Vandort<br />

Michael & Gayle VanGessel<br />

David & Beth VanPortfliet<br />

Peter & Denise Versluis<br />

Christopher & Dana Vinton<br />

Wayne & Angela Visbeen<br />

Phil & Kathy Vogelsang<br />

Tom & Laurie Welch<br />

Joe Westra<br />

Ben & Jennifer Wickstrom<br />

Scott & Rebecca Wierda<br />

Greg & Meg Willit<br />

Kris Wohlart<br />

Les & Jane Wong<br />

Jim & Mary Workman<br />

John & Kathy Workman<br />

Jim & Jane Zwiers<br />


RECEIVED BETWEEN JAN. 1, 2020,<br />

AND DEC. 31, 2020.<br />

Van Andel Institute JBoard Ambassadors<br />

Co-Chairs: Blake Crabb & Rachel Mraz<br />

Peter & Paige Afendoulis<br />

Keegan Balk<br />

Robert & Kathryn Barcelona<br />

Chad Bassett<br />

Christopher Billmeier<br />

Hannah Blackwell<br />

Blake Crabb<br />

Jenna DeBest<br />

Aaron & Afton DeVos<br />

Samuel DeVries & Lily Powers<br />

Benjamin Eastburg<br />

Alex Ehlert-VanBeveren & Brian<br />

VanBeveren<br />

Jennifer Fischer<br />

Dana Friis-Hansen & Mark<br />

Holzbach<br />

Meghan Gartman<br />

Zachary Gebben<br />

Nate Harris<br />

Mary Hilger<br />

Ken Hoffman & Lisa Rose<br />

Jordan Hoyer<br />

Jason & Brandi Huyser<br />

Matt & Sarah Jones<br />

John Kailunas<br />

Margaret Kennedy<br />

Kevin & Kathryn Kileen<br />

Kaleb Kimble<br />

Michael & Andrea Leestma<br />

Kimberly Livingston<br />

Casey Lowery<br />

Mike & Rachel Mraz<br />

Thomas Murray<br />

Christopher & Alyssa Nance<br />

Kendra Osowski<br />

Gregory Paplawsky<br />

Eric Payne<br />

Leland & Alexandra Perez<br />

Justin Pinto<br />

Cody Pletcher<br />

Nicole Probst<br />

Thomas & Kenda Ralston<br />

Sara Ross<br />

Richard Schrotenboer<br />

Kelsey Schweibert<br />

Allison Sleight<br />

THIS LIST INCLUDES MEMBERS ACTIVE ANY TIME BETWEEN JAN. 1, <strong>2021</strong>, AND DEC. 31, <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

Jonathan Sleight<br />

Riley Smith<br />

Joseph Spoelhof<br />

Timothy Streit<br />

Mark Stuit<br />

Aaron & Hailey Van Andel<br />

Chris Van Andel<br />

Jesse & Heather Van Andel<br />

Kyle Van Andel<br />

Daniel VandenBosch<br />

Sarah Vander Baan<br />

Tripp & Katie VanderWal<br />

Samuel & Sydney Vucelich<br />

Justin Welker<br />

Cameron Young<br />

Thank you, JBoard Ambassadors.<br />

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

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


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

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