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Highlights of Hope 20th Anniversary

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HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION<br />

2 Trustees | 3 Letter from David Van Andel | 4 Building the Dream<br />

6 Our History | 8 Pioneers, Visionaries and Trailblazers<br />

12 Events | 16 Revolutionizing Science Education<br />

22 A Legacy <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong>: Shifting the Paradigm on Parkinson’s Disease<br />

24 Building Momentum at the Epicenter <strong>of</strong> Epigenetics


INSTITUTE TRUSTEES<br />

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

David Van Andel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

John Kennedy, President and Chief Executive Officer, Autocam Medical<br />

Mark Meijer, President, Life E.M.S. Ambulance<br />

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

David Van Andel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

Tom R. DeMeester, M.D., Pr<strong>of</strong>essor and Chairman Emeritus, Department <strong>of</strong> Surgery,<br />

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

James B. Fahner, M.D., Chief <strong>of</strong> Hematology and Oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital<br />

Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D., Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> Medicine, Section <strong>of</strong> Hematology/Oncology; Director,<br />

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

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

George Vande Woude, Ph.D., Distinguished Scientific Fellow, Founding Research Director,<br />

Van Andel Research Institute<br />

Ralph Weichselbaum, M.D., Chairman, Department <strong>of</strong> Radiation; Head, Ludwig Center for<br />

Metastasis Research, University <strong>of</strong> Chicago<br />

Max Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> Oncology, Department <strong>of</strong> Internal Medicine;<br />

Founding Director, University <strong>of</strong> Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center<br />

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

David Van Andel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Van Andel Institute<br />

James E. Bultman, Ed.D., Former President, <strong>Hope</strong> College<br />

Donald W. Maine, Former President, Davenport University<br />

Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D., President, Aquinas College<br />

LETTER FROM DAVID VAN ANDEL<br />

Dear Friends,<br />

Twenty years have passed since Van Andel Institute was founded for the betterment <strong>of</strong><br />

mankind and the improvement <strong>of</strong> the human condition through biomedical research and<br />

science education.<br />

In the ensuing two decades, we have accomplished much, perhaps more than we even<br />

dared to dream at the beginning. This 20 th anniversary issue <strong>of</strong> <strong>Highlights</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong> provides<br />

a small snapshot <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s history and accomplishments.<br />

Much <strong>of</strong> the support that has allowed us to carry out this vital work comes from you, and<br />

for this we owe you pr<strong>of</strong>ound gratitude. Your generosity has enabled us to recruit giants<br />

in the world <strong>of</strong> biomedical research, like Dr. George Vande Woude and Dr. Peter Jones, to<br />

come to Grand Rapids and make this city their home.<br />

It has been my privilege to work with an incredible group <strong>of</strong> people who have provided<br />

direction for the research taking place in the Institute’s labs and in collaborative projects<br />

in laboratories and clinical sites throughout the world. These talented individuals have<br />

created a critical mass <strong>of</strong> biomedical research in the areas <strong>of</strong> cancer, neurodegenerative<br />

disease, and most recently, in the growing field <strong>of</strong> epigenetics.<br />

In addition to our work in biomedical research, we remain committed to science education<br />

that leverages vibrant new technologies and uses these tools in the service <strong>of</strong> knowledge,<br />

mentorship and discovery. Our devotion and passion for science education comes from<br />

an understanding that the many discoveries <strong>of</strong> the future will be uncovered by the<br />

students <strong>of</strong> today.<br />

As I look back, I am gratified by how far we’ve come in these two decades, and I am even<br />

more excited by the future and the impact we can have 20 years from now when we<br />

celebrate Van Andel Institute’s 40 th anniversary.<br />

I recall my father saying early on that to become a world-class research institute would<br />

require building the dream a step at a time—meticulously putting one stone upon another.<br />

I have no doubt that he would be proud <strong>of</strong> the many stones we have placed on the<br />

foundation <strong>of</strong> his dream.<br />

Working together, one step at a time, we will continue to build an Institute that serves<br />

humanity and makes powerful, lasting contributions to human health.<br />

Warmly,<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL<br />

Gordon L. Van Harn, Ph.D., Emeritus Provost and Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> Biology, Calvin College<br />

David Van Andel<br />

Chairman and CEO<br />

2 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 3


OUR HISTORY<br />

BUILDING THE DREAM—ONE STEP AT A TIME<br />

Van Andel Institute is located in the<br />

heart <strong>of</strong> downtown Grand Rapids,<br />

Michigan, at the south end <strong>of</strong> Belknap<br />

Hill, a historic neighborhood and wellknown<br />

landmark that has long attracted<br />

people to its magnificent views <strong>of</strong><br />

the Grand River, its breathtaking<br />

panoramas and its beautiful sunsets.<br />

Amway Co-Founder Jay Van Andel’s dream<br />

was to transform this area in the city’s<br />

center into a hub for scientific discovery<br />

and human health. His vision was to<br />

build an independent institute that would<br />

embrace novel approaches to biomedical<br />

research and science education, and<br />

develop a network <strong>of</strong> collaborations<br />

with organizations stretching from West<br />

Michigan to every corner <strong>of</strong> the world. The<br />

Van Andel family believed the Institute<br />

could serve as a guiding light <strong>of</strong> hope and<br />

bring about scientific discoveries that<br />

would benefit future generations.<br />

Defining the Mission<br />

The initial stages <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s formation<br />

were organized by a group <strong>of</strong> talented<br />

advisors that included Dr. Luis Tomatis,<br />

an esteemed Grand Rapids-based<br />

cardiothoracic surgeon who shared the<br />

Van Andel family’s passion for human<br />

health and community enrichment. He<br />

helped recruit top-tier scientific talent to<br />

form the Institute’s first Board <strong>of</strong> Scientific<br />

Advisors and appoint Nobel Laureate<br />

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

first chairman.<br />

The Institute’s mission was refined with<br />

input from numerous scientific experts<br />

from a wide variety <strong>of</strong> research centers<br />

in the United States. Their insight helped<br />

create an institute encompassing<br />

innovative biomedical research<br />

and science education, and laid the<br />

groundwork for scientific collaborations<br />

that would have a lasting impact on<br />

human health.<br />

Phase I—Breaking Ground and<br />

Creating a Legacy<br />

Van Andel Institute could have been built<br />

anywhere in the world, and there were<br />

many who suggested other locations closer<br />

to traditional centers <strong>of</strong> research or major<br />

universities, but Jay Van Andel chose Grand<br />

Rapids because it was his community, the<br />

place that he called home. It was where<br />

his family had roots, and it was the place<br />

where Jay and his wife Betty raised their<br />

children. They thought it was important<br />

to give back to the community that had<br />

given them a life <strong>of</strong> hope and happiness.<br />

Van Andel felt strongly that the Institute<br />

should be built in the heart <strong>of</strong> Grand<br />

Rapids so that it could serve as a beacon<br />

<strong>of</strong> innovation and a catalyst for economic<br />

growth and revitalization for the city on the<br />

Grand River.<br />

“When my father first had the idea to create<br />

an independent biomedical research facility<br />

in his hometown, there were many people<br />

who thought it was not feasible or doable<br />

JAY VAN ANDEL<br />

in a city without a built-in support system<br />

for this kind <strong>of</strong> work,” Van Andel Institute<br />

Chairman and CEO David Van Andel said.<br />

“I really believe it’s a testament to the<br />

founders <strong>of</strong> this Institute that they were<br />

able to see beyond the ordinary and build<br />

something that transforms the dynamic <strong>of</strong><br />

a city and inspires greatness in others.”<br />

In the latter half <strong>of</strong> the 20 th century, Grand<br />

Rapids was a town shaken by a changing<br />

post-industrial economy, and it was in<br />

many ways a city struggling for a lifeline.<br />

Although it was once a champion <strong>of</strong><br />

industrial manufacturing and commerce, in<br />

1996 the city was in need <strong>of</strong> dreamers, bold<br />

ideas and people who were not afraid to<br />

build a new way forward.<br />

David Van Andel appointed architect<br />

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

for the construction <strong>of</strong> the Institute and,<br />

together with a team <strong>of</strong> advisors, Van Andel<br />

and Gray scoured over proposals from<br />

architectural design firms in the<br />

BETTY VAN ANDEL<br />

United States, the United Kingdom,<br />

Germany, South Korea and Japan. In<br />

their search, New York-based, Uruguayan<br />

architect Rafael Viñoly’s work stood above<br />

the rest, and his initial concept for the<br />

Institute captured the imagination <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Van Andels and their team <strong>of</strong> advisors.<br />

“There are few places on this planet<br />

that you could do what we’ve done<br />

here, and it happened because <strong>of</strong> the<br />

community spirit...This community<br />

warmly welcomed this initiative, even if<br />

they were surprised by the scope <strong>of</strong> the<br />

vision. Twenty years ago, the phrase ‘life<br />

sciences corridor’ was a completely new<br />

concept in this city, but now it’s one<br />

<strong>of</strong> the most vital sources <strong>of</strong> economic<br />

growth and development for the region.”<br />

– David Van Andel<br />

Viñoly’s impressive portfolio <strong>of</strong> awardwinning<br />

designs includes the Tokyo<br />

International Forum and the Kimmel Center<br />

for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.<br />

In his concept, Viñoly used Grand Rapids’<br />

topography and the Grand River as<br />

inspiration to design an iconic building that<br />

is striking in its modernity and respectful<br />

<strong>of</strong> its surroundings. Viñoly’s design for<br />

the Institute did not look like any other<br />

structure in West Michigan, and its bold<br />

forms and dramatic, sculptural lines<br />

signified that a new day had come for the<br />

city <strong>of</strong> Grand Rapids.<br />

CONTINUED ON PG 6 ><br />

ARCHITECT RAFAEL VIÑOLY UNVEILING THE MODEL OF VAI TO DAVID VAN ANDEL<br />

AND DR. LUIS TOMATIS AT THE AMWAY GRAND PLAZA HOTEL IN 1997.<br />

All five members <strong>of</strong> the first Van Andel Research Institute<br />

Board <strong>of</strong> Scientific Advisors were esteemed scientists who<br />

were or became Nobel Laureates. They included:<br />

Michael Brown, M.D. – Chairman<br />

Director, Jonsson Center <strong>of</strong> Molecular Genetics<br />

The University <strong>of</strong> Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas<br />

Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine 1985<br />

Richard Axel, M.D.<br />

Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> Neurosciences<br />

Columbia University<br />

Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine 2004<br />

Joseph Goldstein, M.D.<br />

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

The University <strong>of</strong> Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas<br />

Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine 1985<br />

Daniel Nathans, M.D.<br />

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

Johns Hopkins University<br />

Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute<br />

Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine 1978<br />

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

Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> Biology<br />

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

Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine 1993<br />

4 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 5


OUR HISTORY<br />

(LEFT TO RIGHT) CASEY WONDERGEM,<br />

GOVERNOR JOHN ENGLER, VAI FOUNDER JAY<br />

VAN ANDEL, PRESIDENT GERALD R. FORD AND<br />

VAI CHAIRMAN AND CEO DAVID VAN ANDEL.<br />

Two Decades <strong>of</strong> Sustained Growth on the Medical Mile<br />

Since Van Andel Institute broke ground in 1998 it has<br />

spurred vital economic growth in Grand Rapids and<br />

more than $1 billion worth <strong>of</strong> research and health care<br />

infrastructure along the city’s Medical Mile, including:<br />

2000: Grand Rapids Community College Calkins Science Center<br />

CONTINUED FROM PG 5 ><br />

The design for Phase I <strong>of</strong> the Institute<br />

was architect Rafael Viñoly’s first<br />

research facility, but in the<br />

intervening years he has gone on<br />

to design for Princeton University,<br />

Howard Hughes Medical Institute<br />

and several other notable<br />

research facilities.<br />

The Birth <strong>of</strong> the Medical Mile<br />

On May 20, 1998, the Van Andel family,<br />

along with the mayor <strong>of</strong> Grand Rapids,<br />

advisors and friends, broke ground on<br />

the building site and began the process<br />

<strong>of</strong> making the dream a concrete reality.<br />

This event set <strong>of</strong>f a domino effect <strong>of</strong><br />

development and economic growth that<br />

would invigorate the city.<br />

Following the initial phases <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s<br />

construction, then-Michigan Governor<br />

John Engler signed the Michigan Life<br />

Sciences Corridor legislation, a $1 billion<br />

biotechnology initiative, into law in the<br />

Institute’s lobby. This initiative created a<br />

collaborative web between the Institute,<br />

the University <strong>of</strong> Michigan in Ann Arbor,<br />

Michigan State University in East Lansing<br />

and Wayne State University in Detroit.<br />

Phase I <strong>of</strong> the Institute initiated the<br />

expansion <strong>of</strong> the life science industry in<br />

West Michigan and promoted a new<br />

economy based on the pursuit <strong>of</strong> excellence<br />

in human health. Due in large part to the<br />

Van Andel family’s vision, the district that<br />

houses Van Andel Institute, located along<br />

Michigan Street and adjacent to Belknap<br />

Hill, has come to be known as the “Medical<br />

Mile.” Today, the Medical Mile serves as an<br />

important driver for economic development<br />

and vitality in the region.<br />

“Here at VAI, the world’s greatest<br />

medical detectives will unlock the<br />

secrets <strong>of</strong> molecular and cell<br />

biology, genetics and other life<br />

sciences. All because <strong>of</strong> Jay and<br />

Betty Van Andel’s belief and their<br />

willingness to act on that belief.”<br />

– President Gerald R. Ford<br />

(TOP) GRAND RAPIDS, BEFORE VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE WAS BUILT;<br />

(BOTTOM) TODAY’S MEDICAL MILE.<br />

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

Health Sciences<br />

2004: Spectrum Health Meijer Heart Center<br />

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

2008: Mid Towne Village Women’s Health Center<br />

2009: Mercy Health Hauenstein Neuroscience Center<br />

2009: Van Andel Institute Phase II<br />

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

Secchia Center<br />

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

2011: The RDV/Christman Michigan Street Development<br />

Opening in late 2017: Michigan State University's<br />

Grand Rapids Research Center<br />

1996<br />

1997<br />

1999<br />

Jay and Betty Van Andel found<br />

Van Andel Institute (VAI).<br />

David Van Andel becomes Chairman and CEO.<br />

VAEI hosts the first Van Andel Educators<br />

Institute, a national symposium for school<br />

principals and superintendents.<br />

Respected cancer scientist and NCI administrator Dr. George Vande Woude,<br />

joins as Research Director <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). Research<br />

begins in temporary laboratory space at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.<br />

Dr. Luis Tomatis appointed first<br />

President <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute.<br />

Dr. Gordon Van Wylen<br />

appointed first Director <strong>of</strong><br />

Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI).<br />

1998<br />

Groundbreaking ceremony for VAI’s facilities<br />

in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.<br />

VAI helps to establish Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile—a<br />

health sciences and medical corridor that serves as a source<br />

for innovative biomedical research, cutting-edge clinical<br />

care and economic growth in West Michigan.<br />

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VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 7


OUR HISTORY<br />

VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE’S<br />

FOUNDING RESEARCH DIRECTOR<br />

DR. GEORGE VANDE WOUDE.<br />

PIONEERS, VISIONARIES AND TRAILBLAZERS<br />

When Van Andel Research Institute’s<br />

(VARI) Founding Research Director<br />

Dr. George Vande Woude first came<br />

to Grand Rapids to discuss leading<br />

the Institute's research program, the<br />

building was still under construction.<br />

He was one <strong>of</strong> a handful <strong>of</strong> scientists<br />

who vied for the opportunity to create<br />

something revolutionary in a midsized<br />

city in Michigan. Building a research<br />

institute without support from existing<br />

institutions or a university was something<br />

that was almost unheard <strong>of</strong> in the world<br />

<strong>of</strong> biomedical research, but Vande Woude<br />

had developed a reputation as a scientist<br />

who forged his own path.<br />

Vande Woude met with representatives<br />

from the Institute including the Institute’s<br />

first president, Dr. Luis Tomatis. Tomatis<br />

led early efforts to recruit scientists<br />

and advisors, and scout a research<br />

director who would be able to shape the<br />

Institute’s strategic vision and embrace the<br />

uncertainty <strong>of</strong> a new endeavor. Tomatis’<br />

passion for his work and enthusiasm for<br />

the Institute fostered important early<br />

relationships with scientific pioneers,<br />

visionary thinkers and trailblazers in<br />

the field <strong>of</strong> biomedical research.<br />

Together, We Will Make History<br />

Vande Woude doesn’t think <strong>of</strong> himself<br />

as a pioneer, but his contributions to<br />

cancer research are undeniably impressive.<br />

A towering figure in the world <strong>of</strong> genomic<br />

cancer research, Vande Woude spent<br />

eight years at the U.S. Department <strong>of</strong><br />

Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal Disease<br />

Center and then served as director<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Basic Research Program at the<br />

National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Frederick<br />

Cancer Research and Development<br />

Center, and as director for the Division<br />

<strong>of</strong> Basic Sciences.<br />

During his 40-year tenure at the NCI,<br />

Vande Woude explored the exciting<br />

world <strong>of</strong> genomic cancer research<br />

in order to better understand what<br />

causes cancer at the molecular level.<br />

His impressive list <strong>of</strong> achievements<br />

includes discovering the human MET<br />

oncogene and proto-oncogene. These<br />

discoveries revolutionized how cancer<br />

was viewed and led to the development<br />

<strong>of</strong> novel targeted cancer therapies.<br />

Vande Woude made a point to recruit<br />

bright, young people who were doing<br />

adventurous work in basic and<br />

translational cancer research. One<br />

<strong>of</strong> these young scientists was<br />

Dr. Bart Williams, now director <strong>of</strong> VARI’s<br />

Center for Cancer and Cell Biology.<br />

“It was an incredible opportunity to build<br />

something with one <strong>of</strong> the pioneers in<br />

cancer research and design a biomedical<br />

research program from scratch,” Williams<br />

said. “The experience was very 'handson'<br />

– building something incredible where<br />

nothing had previously existed. In that<br />

process, there was a lot <strong>of</strong> energy<br />

and enthusiasm.”<br />

Under David Van Andel's leadership,<br />

Vande Woude guided these young<br />

scientists and stimulated a dynamic<br />

workplace that sparked a chain reaction <strong>of</strong><br />

growth and collaboration within<br />

the Institute. A natural leader and<br />

passionate mentor, Vande Woude created<br />

an environment that was both supportive<br />

and aspirational.<br />

“George is a very detailed, hands-on kind<br />

<strong>of</strong> person, and his management style<br />

was important in creating the Institute<br />

and laying its solid scientific foundations,”<br />

Williams said. “He was instrumental in<br />

getting other scientists to think about<br />

coming here, doing cutting-edge research,<br />

and building a research institute in<br />

Grand Rapids.”<br />

Joined by his wife and lifelong supporter<br />

Dot, Vande Woude brought scientists from<br />

around the country to a city tucked away<br />

in West Michigan, helping to shape the<br />

Institute’s destiny for the next two decades.<br />

A mentor’s mentor, Vande Woude’s<br />

exuberant love <strong>of</strong> science and passion<br />

for the continuum <strong>of</strong> discovery remain<br />

cornerstones <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s approach<br />

to biomedical research and science<br />

education. His ability to nurture the<br />

careers <strong>of</strong> top-tier scientists provided a<br />

bedrock for the Institute’s initial research<br />

CONTINUED ON PG 10 ><br />

2000<br />

Phase I <strong>of</strong> VAI's construction is completed.<br />

VARI holds its first scientific symposium.<br />

2001<br />

VAI creates signature special event <strong>Hope</strong> on the Hill<br />

to recognize donors and their charitable gifts to the<br />

Institute.<br />

2003<br />

VARI hosts the first undergraduate interns in its laboratories.<br />

Scientific seminar series established, later<br />

renamed in memory <strong>of</strong> Dr. Han-Mo Koo,<br />

a VARI scientist who died <strong>of</strong> cancer in 2004.<br />

Dr. Gordon Van Harn<br />

appointed Director <strong>of</strong> VAEI.<br />

2004<br />

2004 sees the passing <strong>of</strong> Van Andel Institute<br />

Founders Jay and Betty Van Andel.<br />

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OUR HISTORY<br />

(LEFT TO RIGHT) DR. BART WILLIAMS,<br />

DR. CRAIG WEBB AND DR. ART ALBERTS AT<br />

THE PHASE I GRAND OPENING.<br />

CONTINUED FROM PG 9 ><br />

programs and provided the necessary<br />

momentum for growth and success.<br />

“If you love people and have the ability<br />

to help them do great things, then you’re<br />

really living the dream,” Vande Woude said.<br />

On the day Vande Woude signed his<br />

contract, Institute Founder Jay Van Andel<br />

held Vande Woude’s arm and said,<br />

“Together, we will make history.”<br />

“If you love people and have<br />

the ability to help them do<br />

great things, then you’re really<br />

living the dream.”<br />

- Dr. George Vande Woude<br />

Trailblazing Trustees—Peter Cook and<br />

Ralph Hauenstein<br />

The Institute began as the dream <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Van Andel family. Through the support <strong>of</strong><br />

other West Michigan community leaders<br />

and philanthropists like Peter Cook and<br />

Ralph Hauenstein this dream helped<br />

transform the region.<br />

"Because <strong>of</strong> Peter Cook and Ralph<br />

Hauenstein's careful guidance, Van Andel<br />

Institute has grown not only in size but in<br />

stature in the scientific community, and<br />

served as a catalyst for the transformation<br />

<strong>of</strong> a community, a region and an economy,"<br />

David Van Andel said.<br />

Both men shared a unique vision for their<br />

city and understood that the Institute<br />

would shift the economic trajectory <strong>of</strong><br />

Grand Rapids and be a force for change.<br />

Their wisdom, business experience and<br />

community connections helped guide the<br />

Institute in its beginning and provided a<br />

sturdy philanthropic course for the future.<br />

After years <strong>of</strong> service, the two men were<br />

awarded emeritus status on Van Andel<br />

Institute’s Board <strong>of</strong> Trustees in 2008,<br />

and they continued to serve with distinction<br />

throughout their lives. Cook passed away in<br />

2010 and Hauenstein in 2016, but both men<br />

left behind impressive legacies that live on in<br />

the Institute’s mission and the thriving city they<br />

helped redefine.<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE’S<br />

FIRST TRUSTEES, PETER COOK<br />

AND RALPH HAUENSTEIN.<br />

Dale Chihuly, a world-renowned glass<br />

sculptor, unveils Life, commissioned in<br />

2004 by Jay Van Andel in memory <strong>of</strong><br />

Betty Van Andel. The sculpture hangs in<br />

VAI’s lobby.<br />

2006<br />

Carol Van Andel introduces the<br />

inaugural Couture for a Cure fashion<br />

event held to benefit VAI.<br />

VAEI begins its inaugural Out-<strong>of</strong>-School-Time Cohort Program.<br />

2007<br />

VAEI launches Science on Saturday program.<br />

VAEI hosts first West Michigan Regional<br />

Undergraduate Science Research Conference<br />

for students and pr<strong>of</strong>essors.<br />

2005<br />

Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS) founded<br />

and receives charter from the State <strong>of</strong> Michigan to<br />

confer master’s and Ph.D. degrees.<br />

VAI signs an agreement with<br />

Michigan State University to support<br />

the creation <strong>of</strong> a medical school in<br />

downtown Grand Rapids.<br />

Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg appointed<br />

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

Graduate School.<br />

First students enter Van Andel Institute Graduate School.<br />

Groundbreaking ceremony for Phase II building expansion.<br />

VARI and the Shanghai Institute <strong>of</strong> Materia Medica (SIMM) establish the VARI/SIMM<br />

Center for Drug Discovery in Shanghai, China.<br />

2008<br />

Child authors <strong>of</strong> the book<br />

Kid’s Cancer Stories visit with<br />

more than 100 VAI employees<br />

for a book signing.<br />

10 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE<br />

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EVENTS<br />

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) COUTURE FOR A CURE 10 TH<br />

ANNIVERSARY; CAROL VAN ANDEL AND SARAH ROLLMAN WITH THE<br />

FIRST ANGEL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD RECIPIENTS, CHRISTINE BOELKINS<br />

AND VICKY LUDEMA; FOUR FOREST HILLS CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL<br />

STUDENTS RAISED $100,000 OVER FOUR YEARS AND DONATED THE<br />

FUNDS TO VAI IN 2013; CAROL VAN ANDEL SPEAKS AT THE 2016 ART OF<br />

FASHION AND RESEARCH EVENT; MARANDA ADDRESSES THE CROWD<br />

AT THE 2015 CONVERSATION ABOUT DEPRESSION<br />

HOSTED BY CAROL VAN ANDEL.<br />

(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) THE FORTE TENORS<br />

PERFORM AT THE 15 TH ANNUAL HOPE ON THE HILL GALA;<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL BLOWS OUT THE CANDLES DURING HIS<br />

BIRTHDAY AND VAI'S 5 TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION; JBOARD<br />

CO-CHAIR RACHEL MRAZ SPEAKS AT THE 2012 AROUND THE<br />

WORLD EVENT; RALPH HAUNSTEIN DANCES AT THE HOPE ON<br />

THE HILL GALA IN 2010; 2012 PURPLE COMMUNITY HOCKEY<br />

GAME WITH THE GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS.<br />

12 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE<br />

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A MILESTONE<br />

PHASE II<br />

Groundbreaking<br />

Van Andel Institute broke ground on its<br />

Phase II expansion April 11, 2007.<br />

Phase II continued the vision <strong>of</strong> architect<br />

Rafael Viñoly and provided Institute<br />

scientists and operations staff with<br />

beautifully designed lab and <strong>of</strong>fice spaces<br />

where they could continue to develop new<br />

and exciting research initiatives into cancer<br />

and neurodegenerative diseases.<br />

Grand Opening<br />

On Dec. 8, 2009, Van Andel Institute cut<br />

the ribbon on its eight-story, $178 million,<br />

240,000-square-foot Phase II expansion.<br />

The expanded facility generated both<br />

economic and scientific opportunities by<br />

nearly tripling research space and creating<br />

the potential to support a $125 million<br />

annual research operation.<br />

(TOP) DAVID VAN ANDEL AT THE<br />

PHASE II GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY.<br />

(RIGHT) ARCHITECT RAFAEL VIÑOLY PRESENTS<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL WITH THE PHASE II MODEL.<br />

DAVID VAN ANDEL LEAVES A HEARTFELT MESSAGE FOR HIS PARENTS, JAY AND BETTY<br />

VAN ANDEL, ON THE FINAL BEAM AT THE PHASE II TOPPING OFF CEREMONY.<br />

(TOP) DAVID AND CAROL VAN ANDEL ARE PRESENTED WITH A PAINTING OF THE INSTITUTE AT THE PHASE II GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION;<br />

(LEFT) DAVID VAN ANDEL ADDRESSES THE CROWD AT THE PHASE II RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY; (RIGHT) PHASE II RIBBON CUTTING<br />

(BOTTOM RIGHT) THE FINAL BEAM IS ADDED TO THE BUILDING AT THE PHASE II TOPPING OFF CEREMONY.<br />

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SCIENCE EDUCATION<br />

REVOLUTIONIZING SCIENCE EDUCATION<br />

Biomedical research and science<br />

education are the pillars on which<br />

Van Andel Institute is built. After all,<br />

the life-changing scientific breakthroughs<br />

<strong>of</strong> tomorrow will be discovered by the<br />

students <strong>of</strong> today.<br />

Van Andel Institute (VAI) Co-Founder<br />

Betty Van Andel was a life-long educator<br />

and a fervent believer in the power <strong>of</strong><br />

knowledge to shape lives. In the early<br />

planning stages <strong>of</strong> the Institute, Van Andel<br />

was intent on including education as an<br />

integral part <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s mission.<br />

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

VAI, views the Education Institute as the<br />

fulfillment <strong>of</strong> his mother’s dream.<br />

“Her vision was to create an institution<br />

that would shape educational excellence<br />

and thereby inspire hope and enrich lives,”<br />

Van Andel said. “She realized that access<br />

to science education is one <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

powerful gifts you can give a person and<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the best investments you can make<br />

in the future.”<br />

In 1996, former President <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong><br />

College and former Dean <strong>of</strong> the School <strong>of</strong><br />

Engineering at the University <strong>of</strong> Michigan<br />

Dr. Gordon Van Wylen joined Van Andel<br />

Education Institute’s (VAEI) Board <strong>of</strong><br />

Trustees and agreed to help shape the<br />

mission <strong>of</strong> the Education Institute. A man<br />

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

experience and integrity, Van Wylen’s<br />

expertise was instrumental in defining the<br />

early goals <strong>of</strong> VAEI.<br />

Van Wylen and the Board <strong>of</strong> Trustees<br />

decided that to have a significant<br />

impact on science education, the<br />

Institute must first address key issues<br />

regarding the needs <strong>of</strong> students and<br />

teachers. Working with educators<br />

and scientific experts, Van Wylen<br />

organized the first Van Andel Educators<br />

Institute in 1997. This meeting<br />

DR. GORDON VAN WYLEN<br />

brought educators and scientists together<br />

to discuss issues in science education and<br />

ways in which the Institute could effect<br />

positive change.<br />

In 1998, Van Wylen also assisted in<br />

founding the Van Andel Educational<br />

Technology School, which was a technology<br />

focused program for urban elementary<br />

schools in the Grand Rapids Public<br />

School system.<br />

These efforts were the first steps toward<br />

designing the Institute’s educational<br />

philosophy, which embraces inquiry-based<br />

learning, proactive teacher training and<br />

innovative technologies.<br />

Thinking and Acting Like a Scientist<br />

In the years following the founding <strong>of</strong> VAEI,<br />

influential experts in scientific research<br />

and academia worked diligently to shape<br />

the inquiry-based philosophy <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Institute’s science education and teacher<br />

development programs.<br />

The hallmark <strong>of</strong> VAEI’s inquiry-based<br />

education philosophy is that students learn<br />

science best not just by memorization,<br />

but by actually doing science. Based on<br />

the scientific method <strong>of</strong> observation,<br />

measurement, experimentation, and<br />

the formulation and testing <strong>of</strong> results,<br />

VAEI’s methods provide students with a<br />

meaningful, engaging learning experience<br />

VAN ANDEL EDUCATORS INSTITUTE, 1997<br />

and a sound understanding <strong>of</strong> scientific<br />

principles. Under the guidance <strong>of</strong> talented<br />

educators like Marcia Bishop, Dr. Gordon<br />

Van Harn and Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg,<br />

VAEI’s programs have grown to include<br />

the Field Experience, High School Journal<br />

Club, Out-<strong>of</strong>-School-Time Cohort Program,<br />

Science on Saturday and NexGen Inquiry ®<br />

(VAEI’s web-based education platform).<br />

2009<br />

Phase II <strong>of</strong> VAI construction completed.<br />

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

symposium, which brings together experts<br />

from across the U.S. and U.K.<br />

2010<br />

David and Carol Van Andel rededicate the newly<br />

renovated Crescent Park.<br />

2011<br />

VAIGS launches<br />

partnership with<br />

the United Negro<br />

College Fund.<br />

2012<br />

CONTINUED ON PG 18 ><br />

Dr. Patrik Brundin appointed the Jay Van Andel<br />

Endowed Chair in Parkinson’s Research and works<br />

to build the Center for Neurodegenerative Science.<br />

Purple Community, Van Andel Institute’s grassroots<br />

community awareness and fundraising program,<br />

is established.<br />

Dr. Jeff Trent appointed VARI President and<br />

Research Director.<br />

VAEI begins the High School Journal Club,<br />

creating an inquiry-based science<br />

education program for high school<br />

students in West Michigan.<br />

VAEI expands its pr<strong>of</strong>essional development resources with QPOE 2<br />

®<br />

curriculum<br />

products and Partners in Science program for teachers.<br />

VAI hosts first international Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease symposium<br />

hosting hundreds <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s scientists, clinicians and patient advocates.<br />

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SCIENCE EDUCATION<br />

Dr. Gordon Van Harn –<br />

a Legacy <strong>of</strong> Learning<br />

It’s All About Inquiry!<br />

Van Andel Education Institute<br />

encourages both students and teachers<br />

to think and act like scientists. Instead<br />

<strong>of</strong> focusing on memorization, inquiry-based<br />

learning allows students to learn by asking<br />

questions and testing hypotheses. The<br />

Institute’s inquiry-based model centers on<br />

three dimensions: habits <strong>of</strong> mind, a sociallyand<br />

language-rich environment and the<br />

QPOE 2<br />

®<br />

investigation organizer. QPOE 2<br />

highlights the scientific process <strong>of</strong> asking<br />

a question, making a prediction, collecting<br />

data through observation, developing an<br />

explanation and ongoing evaluation to<br />

refine and improve the process.<br />

From the Founding Into the Future –<br />

NexGen Inquiry ®<br />

In the late 1990s, when the founders<br />

envisioned an institute that would have the<br />

potential to revolutionize science education<br />

and inspire generations <strong>of</strong> students, the<br />

internet was a curious new technology.<br />

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

web-based connectivity in the form <strong>of</strong><br />

NexGen Inquiry—a powerful web-based<br />

science education platform that provides an<br />

opportunity for interactive learning in<br />

K–12 classrooms worldwide.<br />

The platform, accessible to anyone with<br />

an internet connection, was designed by<br />

education experts with the goal <strong>of</strong><br />

bringing the Institute’s inquiry-based<br />

education philosophy to an unlimited<br />

audience. NexGen Inquiry provides a<br />

solid foundation for the Next Generation<br />

Science Standards (NGSS) and gives<br />

teachers accessible tools to help their<br />

students develop important 21 st century<br />

skills and a life-long love <strong>of</strong> science.<br />

Jim Nicolette, associate director <strong>of</strong><br />

Van Andel Education Institute, believes that<br />

the Institute’s future in science education<br />

is dependent on the ability to scale-up the<br />

inquiry-based science education model<br />

in order to reach more teachers<br />

and students.<br />

“The model we’ve worked to develop is truly<br />

golden, and now we have to introduce it to<br />

a larger audience,” Nicolette said.<br />

“Betty Van Andel and the Van Andel family’s<br />

original intent was to change the way<br />

science is taught at the national level. Today<br />

we are really in a place to realize this bold<br />

idea and help educate more students than<br />

ever before.”<br />

FORMER VAN ANDEL EDUCATION INSTITUTE<br />

DIRECTOR DR. GORDON VAN HARN.<br />

Dr. Gordon Van Harn was one <strong>of</strong> the early<br />

leaders who shaped the destiny <strong>of</strong><br />

Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI).<br />

Following a stellar academic career that<br />

included serving for more than 30 years<br />

as a faculty member in Calvin College’s<br />

Biology Department, where he taught<br />

physiology, undertook muscle and<br />

cardiovascular research, and served as<br />

provost and academic dean for the natural<br />

sciences, Van Harn became an active<br />

member <strong>of</strong> the Institute’s leadership.<br />

Van Harn joined the VAEI Board <strong>of</strong> Trustees in<br />

2000 and served with distinction as director<br />

<strong>of</strong> VAEI from 2001 to 2009. Under his<br />

leadership, Van Andel Education Institute<br />

expanded its programs across new<br />

spectrums <strong>of</strong> learning, including Van Andel<br />

Institute Graduate School, which <strong>of</strong>fers a<br />

doctoral program in cellular and molecular<br />

biology. Van Harn defined the scope <strong>of</strong><br />

VAIGS, secured its charter from the State<br />

<strong>of</strong> Michigan to confer degrees and enlisted<br />

an excellent board <strong>of</strong> directors to guide its<br />

development. In addition to VAIGS, Van Harn’s<br />

endless passion, creativity and planning<br />

helped found VAEI's Science Academy, which<br />

focuses on K–12 science education.<br />

2012<br />

CONTINUED FROM PG 17 ><br />

First students graduate from VAIGS.<br />

2013<br />

Dr. George Vande Woude and Dr. Peter Jones named as Fellows <strong>of</strong> the American Association<br />

for Cancer Research Academy.<br />

VAIGS receives initial accreditation from Higher Learning Commission.<br />

2014<br />

VAI partners with Spectrum Health’s Frederik Meijer Heart & Vascular Institute in an effort to stimulate regenerative medicine for heart<br />

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

VARI establishes the Van Andel Research Institute-Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team to foster epigenetics research<br />

collaborations and move promising therapies into clinical trials.<br />

VAI and area partners collaborate to<br />

create a world-class biorepository<br />

following the Program for Biospecimen<br />

Science’s accreditation by the College<br />

<strong>of</strong> American Pathologists.<br />

Dr. Peter Jones appointed Van Andel Research Institute’s<br />

Chief Scientific Officer. VARI commits to becoming a global<br />

epigenetics research hub.<br />

VAI launches Pathway <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong>, a multifaceted initiative to study<br />

tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).<br />

VARI and UK-based research charity The Cure Parkinson’s Trust collaborate on the Linked Clinical<br />

Trials initiative. This effort aims to repurpose medications that have already been approved for use,<br />

and significantly reduce the time and cost required to bring new and more effective therapies<br />

to market.<br />

Dr. George Vande Woude receives the Fellowship Award in Biological Science from the American<br />

Association for the Advancement <strong>of</strong> Science.<br />

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SCIENCE EDUCATION<br />

Our Students Are Scientists—Van Andel Institute Graduate School<br />

Higher education and biomedical<br />

research have a symbiotic relationship.<br />

It is not unusual for a research institute<br />

to be connected to a place <strong>of</strong> higher<br />

learning, but Van Andel Institute<br />

Graduate School (VAIGS) represents a<br />

new way <strong>of</strong> viewing this paradigm.<br />

When the Graduate School was founded<br />

in 2005, its curriculum and structure were<br />

based on the innovation and creativity<br />

taking place in the Institute’s research labs.<br />

Built on the concept <strong>of</strong> former Van Andel<br />

Education Institute (VAEI) President Gordon<br />

Van Harn, VAIGS was designed to function<br />

in tandem with the Institute’s biomedical<br />

research programs and nurture the next<br />

generation <strong>of</strong> great scientists.<br />

“To have a research institute within a large<br />

university is not that uncommon,”<br />

Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg, dean <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Graduate School and director <strong>of</strong> VAEI from<br />

2009 to 2015, said. “Many universities that<br />

are primarily education institutions will<br />

have a research institute in one area or<br />

another, but here at the Institute we have<br />

flipped that model.”<br />

Instead <strong>of</strong> research programs being<br />

informed by a university’s structure<br />

and organizational model, the Institute<br />

developed a graduate school informed by<br />

its leading-edge biomedical research.<br />

“One <strong>of</strong> the unique things about Van Andel<br />

Institute Graduate School is that we don’t<br />

just encourage our students to be effective<br />

scientists, we encourage them also to be<br />

effective biological research leaders who<br />

are able to run their own research groups,<br />

interact effectively within their institution<br />

and collaborate proactively with their<br />

peers,” Triezenberg said.<br />

Solving Real-World Problems<br />

Since VAIGS’s founding, the school has<br />

developed an innovative framework<br />

and curriculum that gives students the<br />

opportunity to spend the majority <strong>of</strong> their<br />

time working in the Institute’s labs where<br />

they can apply their knowledge toward<br />

solving real-world problems.<br />

“Our graduate students are integral<br />

members <strong>of</strong> the laboratory,” Triezenberg<br />

said. “They work with the senior scientists,<br />

with the postdocs, with the lab managers<br />

and with the research technicians in order<br />

to design projects, carry out and interpret<br />

experiments, and present their work at<br />

national and international conferences.<br />

They’re fully fledged pr<strong>of</strong>essional scientists<br />

and regarded as such at the Institute.”<br />

In 2013, the Institute was fully accredited by<br />

the Higher Learning Commission. It currently<br />

has 10 graduates <strong>of</strong> the Ph.D. and master’s<br />

programs, and 20 new students enrolled.<br />

“We expect the school will grow as the<br />

Research Institute grows," said Triezenberg.<br />

"In the next few years, our graduates will<br />

fill high-level positions in academia and<br />

the private sector, and I think we will start<br />

to see the impact we are having on the<br />

scientific community.”<br />

A Continuum <strong>of</strong> Knowledge<br />

The integration <strong>of</strong> scientific research<br />

with education, beginning with VAEI, has<br />

rendered some incredible results.<br />

“We know that the future scientific experts<br />

are the curious students <strong>of</strong> today, and<br />

sometimes their journey begins in the<br />

Education Institute, which brings grade<br />

school students into a laboratory-style<br />

environment that gives them an idea<br />

<strong>of</strong> what it means to think and act like a<br />

scientist,” Triezenberg said. “Some <strong>of</strong> the<br />

first students in the VAEI program are now<br />

college students interning in the Institute’s<br />

laboratories. So, for the first time, we<br />

are seeing students we worked with<br />

from the beginning <strong>of</strong> their educational<br />

development mature into young scientists<br />

with a passion for research and the desire<br />

to advance human health.”<br />

The Institute’s full spectrum <strong>of</strong> science<br />

education, from VAEI on through the<br />

research-focused Graduate School, creates<br />

a continuum <strong>of</strong> knowledge that can carry<br />

a student’s passion for learning into an<br />

undeniably bright and promising future.<br />

2015 Purple Community hosts its first annual Purple Community 5K.<br />

VARI scientist Dr. Gerd Pfeifer named a Fellow <strong>of</strong> the American Association for the Advancement <strong>of</strong> Science.<br />

Winterfest, VAI’s signature special event benefiting Parkinson’s disease research, raised $1,000,000 since<br />

its inception in 2005.<br />

Country and pop music star Sheryl Crow performs at the <strong>Hope</strong> and Denim event in Nashville, Tennessee, to<br />

raise funds for cancer and neurodegenerative disease research at VAI.<br />

2016<br />

Van Andel Research Institute-Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team begins<br />

clinical trials on promising new therapies for cancer.<br />

Terra Tarango appointed VAEI Director and Education Officer.<br />

Launch <strong>of</strong> NexGen Inquiry ® , VAEI’s web-based science education platform.<br />

VARI scientists Drs. Peter Jones, Stephen Baylin and Stefan Jovinge play key roles in<br />

discoveries that were hailed as notable advances <strong>of</strong> 2015 by Nature Medicine.<br />

Research!America's Ge<strong>of</strong>frey Beene Builders <strong>of</strong> Science Award presented to<br />

David Van Andel and Dr. George Vande Woude.<br />

His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and her Majesty Queen Máxima <strong>of</strong> the Netherlands<br />

visit the Institute.<br />

Dr. Peter Jones elected into the National Academy <strong>of</strong> Sciences.<br />

Center for Neurodegenerative Science adds new focus on neuroepigenetics.<br />

VARI significantly expands its structural biology capabilities with the establishment <strong>of</strong> a Cryo-EM Core, a suite <strong>of</strong> powerful electron<br />

microscopes that can image minuscule molecules that are vital in health and disease. VARI also recruits three exceptional<br />

scientists to augment the Institute’s existing structural biology expertise.<br />

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PARKINSON’S<br />

PLEASE ADD A BANNER TO THIS PAGE<br />

A LEGACY OF HOPE: SHIFTING THE<br />

PARADIGM ON PARKINSON’S DISEASE<br />

A couple <strong>of</strong> years after the Institute was<br />

founded, Jay Van Andel’s autobiography,<br />

An Enterprising Life, hit bookshelves<br />

across the nation. In it, he detailed his<br />

hope for the then fledgling biomedical<br />

research and science education institute<br />

he and his wife Betty had founded on a<br />

hill in Grand Rapids. At the core <strong>of</strong> his<br />

hopeful words was a specific call to find<br />

new ways to treat the two most common<br />

neurodegenerative diseases—Parkinson’s,<br />

with which he had been recently diagnosed,<br />

and Alzheimer’s, with which Betty had been<br />

diagnosed many years earlier.<br />

As the Institute grew, his words remained<br />

a constant inspiration for the work<br />

ahead. By 2012, it was time. The Institute<br />

had the facilities. It had the resources.<br />

It just needed the right person to lead<br />

the charge against neurodegenerative<br />

diseases.<br />

(PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS, LEFT TO RIGHT) DRS. JEREMY VAN RAAMSDONK, JIYAN MA,<br />

PATRIK BRUNDIN, DARREN MOORE AND LENA BRUNDIN.<br />

Direct from Sweden<br />

In 2011, Institute CEO David Van Andel<br />

found the leader who would shape VARI’s<br />

Center for Neurodegenerative Science.<br />

Dr. Patrik Brundin was renowned in the<br />

world <strong>of</strong> neuroscience, a pioneering<br />

scientist and clinician who had been part<br />

<strong>of</strong> truly groundbreaking work in the field<br />

<strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s research and treatment.<br />

Those first conversations between<br />

Van Andel and Brundin in Grand Rapids<br />

held glimpses <strong>of</strong> a bright future, but were<br />

also firmly rooted in the memories <strong>of</strong> their<br />

fathers. Jay Van Andel, David’s father and<br />

the founder <strong>of</strong> the Institute, had passed<br />

away in 2004 from complications related<br />

to a long battle with Parkinson’s. Brundin’s<br />

father also had fought the disease and<br />

served as the driving inspiration behind<br />

his son’s passion for finding a cure.<br />

“I’m driven by my father’s memory every<br />

day,” Brundin said. “Seven to 10 million<br />

people worldwide have Parkinson’s. That’s<br />

seven to 10 million mothers, fathers,<br />

brothers, sisters and friends. And that’s<br />

seven to 10 million reasons to do this work.”<br />

By the time he left Michigan to return to<br />

Sweden, Brundin was convinced—Grand<br />

Rapids was the place he needed to be.<br />

A New Mission<br />

When Brundin <strong>of</strong>ficially arrived at<br />

the Institute in 2012, he wasted no<br />

time establishing the Center for<br />

Neurodegenerative Science as<br />

well as Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s<br />

Disease, an annual symposium designed<br />

to highlight cutting-edge science and bring<br />

together the scientific, medical and patient<br />

communities. The first symposium was a<br />

small affair but, like the Center itself, was<br />

poised to grow significantly in size<br />

and scope.<br />

By early 2016, just a few short years after<br />

its creation, the Center was growing rapidly,<br />

having eight exceptional, established<br />

investigators and rising talent. In much the<br />

same way, the field <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s research<br />

also hit an inflection point, one bolstered<br />

by scientific discoveries and a dedicated<br />

community <strong>of</strong> people with Parkinson’s and<br />

their advocates.<br />

Answering the Call<br />

Two years earlier, a crowd <strong>of</strong> more than<br />

325 people—scientists, clinicians, students,<br />

people with Parkinson’s and advocates—sat<br />

in awed silence in the Institute’s Tomatis<br />

Auditorium during Grand Challenges. On<br />

stage, Tom Isaacs, co-founder <strong>of</strong> the UK<br />

research charity The Cure Parkinson’s Trust<br />

and one <strong>of</strong> the community’s most influential<br />

and well-respected voices, gave a powerful<br />

speech outlining the unmet needs <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Parkinson’s community: more definitive<br />

diagnosis, improved care and therapies that<br />

change the course <strong>of</strong> the disease.<br />

“We’re constantly learning<br />

something new—the pace is<br />

absolutely astounding. Each discovery is<br />

another step closer to a future in which<br />

Parkinson’s no longer robs people<br />

<strong>of</strong> their golden years. There’s a<br />

big shift coming—we can<br />

see it on the horizon.”<br />

– Dr. Patrik Brundin<br />

“Our sense <strong>of</strong> urgency is intense,” Isaacs<br />

said. “I think the world <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s is on<br />

the verge <strong>of</strong> a seismic shift for the better.”<br />

His speech came at an auspicious<br />

time. For more than 50 years, treating<br />

Parkinson’s looked more or less the<br />

same and had focused on mitigating<br />

symptoms rather than addressing the<br />

actual underlying causes <strong>of</strong> the disease.<br />

But science has been far from idle during<br />

this time; in fact, it has been booming.<br />

The Right Place, the Right Time<br />

More is known about Parkinson’s now than<br />

THE CURE PARKINSON’S TRUST CO-FOUNDER, TOM ISAACS, ADDRESSES THE<br />

CROWD AT THE 2014 GRAND CHALLENGES IN PARKINSON’S DISEASE SYMPOSIUM.<br />

ever before. Once thought to be strictly a<br />

movement disorder, scientists have learned<br />

that it can include a host <strong>of</strong> non-motor<br />

symptoms such as depression, loss <strong>of</strong><br />

sense <strong>of</strong> smell and cognitive impairment.<br />

And they’ve learned how it spreads from<br />

cell to cell in the brain, slowly killing neurons<br />

that produce dopamine, a chemical<br />

required for smooth movement.<br />

These findings and other insights into<br />

the underpinnings <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s didn’t<br />

happen in a vacuum; rather, they required<br />

a multidisciplinary and collaborative<br />

approach, both <strong>of</strong> which are at the heart<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Center’s philosophy. By recruiting<br />

exceptional scientists from across the<br />

spectrum <strong>of</strong> Parkinson’s research, from<br />

genetics and epigenetics to pathology to<br />

therapeutic development, VARI is building<br />

a critical mass <strong>of</strong> expertise, ensuring<br />

a scientifically strong and innovative<br />

environment. The benefits <strong>of</strong> this work are<br />

broad, <strong>of</strong>ten spilling over to inform research<br />

on other neurodegenerative diseases such<br />

as Alzheimer’s and multiple system atrophy.<br />

At the same time, VARI scientists reach<br />

beyond Grand Rapids to collaborate with<br />

colleagues around the world, delving<br />

deeper into the mechanisms behind<br />

Parkinson's in an effort to translate their<br />

findings into new ways <strong>of</strong> definitively<br />

diagnosing the disease, slowing or stopping<br />

progress, and repairing the damage. Their<br />

ultimate goal is to improve the quality <strong>of</strong> life<br />

for people with Parkinson’s. They’re getting<br />

closer; together with The Cure Parkinson’s<br />

Trust, VARI is finding new uses for existing<br />

drugs approved to treat other diseases<br />

that may also treat Parkinson’s. Some <strong>of</strong><br />

these efforts have already made it into the<br />

crucial clinical trial phase, and others are<br />

well on their way.<br />

The Center and its efforts to move therapies<br />

to the clinic continue to grow—plans call for<br />

the recruitment <strong>of</strong> a neurologist to establish<br />

VARI-supported clinical trials where Jay and<br />

Betty Van Andel’s dream began, in Grand<br />

Rapids. With every step, their vision—the<br />

Institute’s vision—to positively impact<br />

human health is becoming a reality.<br />

“We’re constantly learning something<br />

new—the pace is absolutely astounding,”<br />

Brundin said. “Each discovery is another<br />

step closer to a future in which Parkinson’s<br />

no longer robs people <strong>of</strong> their golden years.<br />

There’s a big shift coming—we can see it on<br />

the horizon.”<br />

22 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 23


EPIGENETICS<br />

DR. PETER JONES AND DAVID VAN ANDEL ON STAGE<br />

AT DR. JONES' PRESS CONFERENCE IN 2014.<br />

BUILDING MOMENTUM AT THE EPICENTER OF EPIGENETICS<br />

The first time Dr. Peter Jones saw<br />

Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture, Life,<br />

suspended in the Institute's lobby, he<br />

was inspired. In it, he saw something<br />

others did not.<br />

Tucked in among the ocean-blue glass orbs<br />

<strong>of</strong> its six-foot-tall helix were red spheres<br />

reminiscent <strong>of</strong> the way chemical marks<br />

that help control genes attach to DNA. It<br />

immediately resonated with<br />

Jones, who is a superstar in epigenetics,<br />

a burgeoning field that holds untold<br />

promise for finding new ways to treat<br />

cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases.<br />

Jones took it as a sign—epigenetics was<br />

in the Institute’s DNA. It just needed to<br />

be expressed.<br />

Charting a New Course<br />

In 2014, Jones packed up 37 years <strong>of</strong><br />

research and moved from Los Angeles to<br />

Grand Rapids to become the Institute’s<br />

chief scientific <strong>of</strong>ficer. He had spent much<br />

<strong>of</strong> those four decades at the University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Southern California, where he led the<br />

university’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer<br />

Center and helped revolutionize the<br />

understanding <strong>of</strong> how our genes work.<br />

A renowned scientist and leader, Jones<br />

could see the potential and the promise,<br />

not only to put Van Andel Research Institute<br />

on the map, but most importantly, to<br />

save lives through innovative research,<br />

strong collaborations and cutting-edge<br />

clinical trials.<br />

“It was a rare chance to do something<br />

really special,” Jones said. “Thanks to the<br />

exceptional generosity <strong>of</strong> the Van Andel<br />

family and the outstanding scientific<br />

foundations built by Dr. George Vande<br />

Woude, the Institute was in a position that<br />

few organizations are lucky enough to<br />

experience. So we set our goals high. When<br />

people say Van Andel Research Institute,<br />

we want them to say epigenetics, and when<br />

people say epigenetics, we want them to<br />

say Van Andel Research Institute."<br />

A Matter <strong>of</strong> Identity<br />

Every cell in the body has almost the exact<br />

same DNA, yet the cells that comprise us<br />

are vastly different. What causes a brain cell<br />

to be a brain cell? Or a muscle cell to be a<br />

muscle cell?<br />

The answer is epigenetics.<br />

Literally meaning “above genetics,”<br />

epigenetics overlays the genetic code and<br />

determines when genes should be switched<br />

“on” or “<strong>of</strong>f,” ultimately affecting cell type<br />

and function. And, like genetics, when<br />

epigenetic processes go awry—when genes<br />

are inappropriately turned <strong>of</strong>f or on—the<br />

result can be disease, such as cancer or<br />

a myriad <strong>of</strong> other illnesses. Epigenetics is<br />

(PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS, LEFT TO RIGHT) DRS. SCOTT ROTHBART,<br />

PETER JONES, HUI SHEN, PETER LAIRD, GERD PFEIFER, PIROSKA SZABÓ,<br />

STEFAN JOVINGE AND STEVEN J. TRIEZENBERG.<br />

a growing field that presents an excellent<br />

opportunity for treating some <strong>of</strong> the biggest<br />

threats to human health.<br />

Jones knew epigenetics was one area where<br />

the Institute could truly become the best <strong>of</strong><br />

the best. When he arrived in Grand Rapids,<br />

he set the Institute on an ambitious new<br />

course—to become a world-renowned<br />

hub for epigenetics research and in doing<br />

so, to find new ways to better treat cancer,<br />

Parkinson’s and other diseases.<br />

“Patients don’t have the time to wait and<br />

neither do we,” Jones said. “We have the<br />

opportunity to make a real difference in<br />

people’s lives.”<br />

There hasn’t been much waiting since<br />

Jones arrived in 2014. The number <strong>of</strong><br />

faculty has grown dramatically from 23<br />

to 33 investigators, many with a focus on<br />

epigenetics. Reflecting the rise <strong>of</strong> Big Data,<br />

VARI has massively upgraded its computing<br />

power and technological capabilities to<br />

support large-scale genomic, epigenomic,<br />

and structural studies aimed at unraveling<br />

the molecular underpinnings <strong>of</strong> health and<br />

“Patients don't have the time to<br />

wait and neither do we. We have the<br />

opportunity to make a real difference<br />

in people's lives.”<br />

- Dr. Peter Jones<br />

CONTINUED ON PG 26 ><br />

24 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 25


EPIGENETICS<br />

CONTINUED FROM PG 25 ><br />

disease. It is also now home to a<br />

Cryo-EM Core, a suite <strong>of</strong> high-powered<br />

electron microscopes that can determine<br />

the structure <strong>of</strong> minute molecules<br />

1/10,000 th the width <strong>of</strong> a human hair.<br />

Perhaps most exciting, the Institute is<br />

supporting clinical trials across the U.S.<br />

and abroad in the hope <strong>of</strong> moving new<br />

therapies into clinical practice.<br />

Further Together<br />

Before new drugs are used in patients<br />

they must run the gauntlet <strong>of</strong> clinical trials,<br />

which are complex, costly and rigorously<br />

conducted studies designed to ensure a<br />

drug’s efficacy and safety. These trials also<br />

require a tremendous amount <strong>of</strong> support<br />

and time. Jones and his team knew this<br />

obstacle presented an opportunity to have<br />

an immediate impact.<br />

They also knew that joining forces with some<br />

<strong>of</strong> the most influential and well-respected<br />

cancer research, medical and philanthropic<br />

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

strengthen and streamline their efforts. So,<br />

on a fall day in 2014, leading scientists and<br />

clinicians from these organizations along with<br />

representatives from Stand Up To Cancer, the<br />

American Association for Cancer Research,<br />

and industry met at the Institute with one<br />

goal—to compete against cancer rather<br />

than each other.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the results was the Van Andel<br />

Research Institute–Stand Up To Cancer<br />

Epigenetics Dream Team, a multiinstitutional<br />

effort to move epigenetic<br />

combination therapies into clinical trials<br />

and, ultimately, to patients. It was built on<br />

Stand Up To Cancer’s paradigm-shifting<br />

Dream Team model, which focuses on<br />

supporting cutting-edge research by<br />

collaborative teams.<br />

The first trial under the team’s auspices<br />

was launched in 2016 and focused on<br />

a promising combination therapy for<br />

AN UP-CLOSE LOOK AT THE DALE CHIHULY SCULPTURE, LIFE, THAT<br />

IS INSTALLED IN THE INSTITUTE'S LOBBY.<br />

VARI IS HOME TO THREE FELLOWS OF THE<br />

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR CANCER RESEARCH ACADEMY; DR. PETER JONES, VARI'S CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER<br />

AND CO-LEADER OF THE VARI-SU2C EPIGENETICS DREAM TEAM; DR. GEORGE VANDE WOUDE, VARI'S FOUNDING<br />

RESEARCH DIRECTOR; AND DR. STEPHEN BAYLIN, CO-LEADER OF THE VARI-SU2C EPIGENETICS DREAM TEAM.<br />

metastatic colorectal cancer. Multiple<br />

trials are in the pipeline to investigate<br />

new therapies for other cancers such<br />

as myelodysplastic syndrome and acute<br />

myeloid leukemia.<br />

“Collaborations like this are important—<br />

they harness resources and expertise that<br />

go beyond any one organization,” Jones<br />

said. “It’s impossible for one place to have<br />

all <strong>of</strong> the experts and the best <strong>of</strong> everything.<br />

By joining forces, we can have an impact<br />

not only here, but globally. We can do so<br />

much more.”<br />

Forward Momentum<br />

What started in Grand Rapids is now<br />

moving far beyond the city’s boundaries,<br />

a revolution reflected in the scientific<br />

discoveries shaping tomorrow’s lifechanging<br />

therapies. The Institute has always<br />

“When people say Van Andel Research<br />

Institute, we want them to say<br />

epigenetics, and when people say<br />

epigenetics, we want them to say<br />

Van Andel Research Institute.<br />

- Dr. Peter Jones<br />

been and will continue to be a connector,<br />

a way to bring people and organizations<br />

together in the pursuit <strong>of</strong> a common goal,<br />

one outlined by Jay and Betty Van Andel in<br />

the earliest days <strong>of</strong> VAI—improving health<br />

and impacting lives. The ability to weave<br />

together the expertise and resources <strong>of</strong><br />

many is more important now than ever<br />

before; scientific fields and new technology<br />

have become increasingly specialized, and<br />

going it alone is no longer an option.<br />

As the Institute has grown so has the city,<br />

especially the Medical Mile that now crowns<br />

Belknap Hill. At the same time, science<br />

and medicine have been in the midst <strong>of</strong><br />

unprecedented discoveries, ever refining<br />

the understanding <strong>of</strong> life’s most intricate<br />

mechanisms.<br />

The last 20 years have laid the foundation<br />

for the Institute’s future—one that is<br />

predicated on translating hope into<br />

discovery and discovery into impact.<br />

26 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE<br />

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 27


LEAVING A LEGACY<br />

Including Van Andel Institute (VAI) in your estate plans is a great way to make a lasting<br />

impact on biomedical research and science education that will benefit generations to<br />

come. Donors who include VAI in their estate plans are invited to join the Society <strong>of</strong> <strong>Hope</strong><br />

and receive recognition in our annual report.<br />

Here are a few planning strategies that can help you provide for your heirs and leave<br />

your legacy:<br />

BEQUESTS<br />

A bequest made through your will or trust is one <strong>of</strong> the most common ways to provide<br />

from your estate for heirs and favorite charities. You can make a bequest <strong>of</strong> a dollar<br />

amount, specific asset or percentage <strong>of</strong> your estate.<br />

“Van Andel Institute has some <strong>of</strong><br />

the sharpest biomedical research<br />

minds in the country, and they<br />

can’t do their work unless we help<br />

them acquire the tools to perform<br />

this groundbreaking research.”<br />

– Steve Grill, planned giving donor<br />

BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS<br />

By completing a simple form, you can designate heirs and charities as the beneficiary <strong>of</strong><br />

retirement plans, financial accounts and life insurance policies.<br />

GIVE IT TWICE TRUST<br />

You can set up a special charitable remainder trust that will pay income to your heirs and<br />

then leave the remaining principle to a charity.<br />

333 BOSTWICK AVE. NE<br />

GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49503<br />

WWW.VAI.ORG<br />

For more information about gift planning, please<br />

contact Patrick Placzkowski at 616.234.5030 or<br />

Teresa Reid at 616.234.5040.

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