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Transforming Science Education for the 21st Century Van Andel Education Institute Inspires and Educates the Next Generation Dylan Dues is a dedicated student, a scientist and a lab technician at Van Andel Research Institute’s (VARI) Center for Neurodegenerative Science. He is realizing his life-long dream of working in medicine and biomedical research. Dylan developed a love for knowledge at an early age, but his career and life plan were shaped by the dedicated mentors and teachers who encouraged his passion for science. Unfortunately, many students in the United States do not receive an adequate science education. In 2013, only 36 percent of U.S. high school students were ready for college-level science, according to The National Math and Science Initiative, a non-profit focused on improving student performance in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. This statistic highlights the fact that the vast majority of students in the United States do not have the 21st century skills necessary to pursue careers in science and technology fields. In a modern world shaped by information and scientific discovery, dynamic science education has never been more essential.

Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) is revolutionizing science education by providing students with the skills needed to discover insights into their world and pursue technologically driven careers. Jim Nicolette, associate director of VAEI Science Academy, is an unlikely revolutionary. An educator who has assumed many roles throughout his career, Nicolette now develops cutting-edge educational tools that can completely change how science is taught. “There is a conflict between where we are currently in how we assess students and the skills that they need to be successful,” Nicolette said. “The modern workforce needs people who think creatively, are self-directed, motivated, and can work through a process to solve problems.”

Thinking Like a Scientist Nicolette and his colleagues at VAEI’s Science Academy have developed an educational philosophy that is inquirybased and focused on the scientific process that scientists like Dues use in their work at the Institute. Students and teachers involved in the Institute’s

Dylan Dues

“The modern workforce needs people who think creatively, are self-directed, motivated, and can work through a process to solve problems.” Jim Nicolette

Jim Nicolette

education program learn by thinking and acting like scientists. Instead of emphasizing memorization, inquirybased learning allows students to explore scientific principles by asking questions and testing hypotheses. The Institute’s inquiry-based model centers on three dimensions: Habits of Mind, a Socially and LanguageRich Environment, and the QPOE2 Continued >>>





investigation organizer. QPOE2 highlights the scientific process of asking a Question, making a Prediction, collecting data through Observation, developing an Explanation and ongoing Evaluation to refine and improve the process. The inquiry-based model helps students make their own discoveries, collaborate and explore the creative nature of science. By seeking answers to questions through investigations, students learn scientific principles

and discover a style of learning that is proactive and collaborative. Through creative scientific practice, students become proactive learners and have the potential to pursue careers in the sciences.

teacher professional development programs, and with the launch of the web-based NexGen Inquiry™ tool in 2015, thousands of teachers and millions of students are expected to utilize the model in classrooms. NexGen Inquiry™ provides students and teachers Leading the Charge with access to learning tools and Teacher professional development and innovative technology in a format educational material development are that encourages collaboration, creativity, problem solving and the important aspects of VAEI’s mission development of 21st century skills. that will help carry the Institute’s It is a tool that has the potential inquiry-based method to students to transform the future of All Rights Reserved 3 around the world. Over 1,000 teachers© 2015 science education. have benefited from the Institute's

WE NEED YOU! Since its launch, the NexGen Inquiry™ platform has been utilized by over 1,000 K-12 science educators in countries all over the world. We need your help to continue this momentum. The Institute’s goal is to sign up 4,000 teachers by the end of the 2015-2016 school year. You can help provide NexGen Inquiry™ for students and teachers—or sponsor a school or district. Support STEM education in the U.S. by making a gift today! 100 percent of all gifts to Van Andel Education Institute go directly to science education programs.

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Sponsor 1 Teacher: $48 Sponsor 5 Teachers: $240 Sponsor 10 Teachers: $480

New Research Finds Potential Way to Combat Spread of Brain Cancer Scientists at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and University of Toledo Health Science Campus (UT) recently discovered an innovative way that may halt the spread of one of the most deadly and aggressive forms of brain cancer. In laboratory studies, the team demonstrated that activating a specific family of proteins halted cancer cell migration into healthy tissue. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and deadly form of brain cancer in adults. The disease is difficult to treat—surgery or chemotherapy often fails because GBM cancer cells regularly escape and invade healthy tissues around the tumor. The study, published in the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell, expands upon an earlier discovery by VARI Professor Arthur Alberts, Ph.D., of a bioactive peptide called DAD and small molecules called intramimics. Both DAD

and intramimics activate a family of cell structure assembly proteins called DIAPHs, which play vital roles in GBM spread. “We hope our latest finding will lead to a novel and effective treatment for this extremely aggressive cancer,” said UT Assistant Professor Kathryn Eisenmann, Ph.D., corresponding author on the study.

Dr. Arthur Alberts

Dr. Eisenmann’s team, led by first author and M.D./Ph.D. graduate student Jessica Arden, showed that locking specific proteins into an “on” state using intramimics stops cancer cells from invading normal brain tissue.

data suggests that DIAPH activation or ‘agonism’ locks all wheels into arbitrary directions, so no matter how hard you push the pedal down, the tumor cells won’t move.”

“Metastatic tumor cells are like any moving vehicle—all of the wheels need to be pointed in the right direction when power is applied,” said Alberts, a senior author on the study. “DIAPHs build the structures that hold and point all the wheels moving cells in the right direction. Dr. Eisenmann’s

Alberts and Eisenmann plan to move the strategy into preclinical models for further testing, a crucial step toward translating this discovery to the clinic and patients. Visit to donate or learn more about Dr. Alberts’ research.

Modeling Lung Cancer Therapies Scientists from Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and Los Alamos National Laboratory have teamed up to design a mathematical model for autophagy in lung cancer. Autophagy, or “self-eating,” is a vital process that removes damaged cellular components from healthy cells and is integrally involved in cell death. Cancer cells can manipulate this process by using cellular waste to fuel their growth and survival. Dysregulated autophagy has become the target of concerted therapeutic development efforts in recent years. The project, led by VARI Associate Professor Jeffrey MacKeigan, Ph.D., in

collaboration with William Hlavacek, Ph.D., of Los Alamos National Laboratory, is funded by a recently awarded $2.6 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). NCI funding will allow the team to further enhance and refine their earlier model, which is based on precise measurements of autophagy in living cells and intricate mathematical algorithms. Once the model is complete, the team will be able to systematically evaluate and predict possible therapeutic strategies for lung cancer through modeling simulations. After potential therapies have been identified, they

Dr. Jeffrey MacKeigan

will be evaluated experimentally. Although MacKeigan’s team will utilize the new model to study lung cancers, the model will also be useful for studying autophagy’s role in other cancers. Visit to donate or learn more about Dr. MacKeigan’s research. Van Andel Institute Highlights of Hope | 3




Ralliers discuss clinical trials

Tom Isaacs, Dr. Patrik Brundin and Anders M. Leines

Parkinson’s Advocates and Experts Converge at VARI More than 300 scientists, people with Parkinson’s, advocates and industry representatives converged at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) at the end of September with a common goal—fighting back against Parkinson’s disease.

Unlocking the secrets behind alphasynuclein’s normal function, its role in Parkinson’s, and how it spreads in the body may lead to new biomarkers and treatment options.

“Grand Challenges and Rallying to the Challenge are wonderful gatherings of some of the brightest minds in Parkinson’s research and advocacy,” said Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., director of VARI’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science. “A gathering this size of scientists and stakeholders is important because we have greater potential to find new therapies and impact more lives when we work together.”

For the second year, VARI, along with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and its Parkinson’s Movement initiative, hosted Rallying to the Challenge, a parallel meeting with Grand Challenges. The meeting provides a forum for the Parkinson’s community to discuss how they can impact and accelerate research. This year, Ralliers discussed the best ways to measure symptoms and therapeutic outcomes via the introduction of new technology and personalized patient-centric measures into Parkinson’s clinical trials. They also addressed how to improve communication between those taking part in and those running clinical trials.

The two-day Grand Challenges symposium included presentations by scientists from around the world that focused on alpha-synuclein, a protein involved in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Rallying to the Challenge

This is Parkinson’s and Brain Storms A photography exhibit aimed at giving the image of Parkinson’s “a serious overhaul” made its international debut at Grand Challenges. This is Parkinson’s, by Norwegian video journalist and young onset Parkinson's patient Anders M. Leines, challenges stereotypical depictions of people with Parkinson’s through a collection of vivid photographs of people under age 50 with young onset Parkinson’s. The emotional images capture people with Parkinson’s as individuals that are empowered and full of life. Attendees also had the opportunity to meet award-winning journalist Dr. Jon Palfreman, author of the new book Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease. Part history, part scientific detective story and part selfreflection, Brain Storms takes the reader into the lives of advocates, scientists, physicians and, most importantly, people with Parkinson’s who are all fighting for a cure.

Thank you to our gracious sponsors who made these events possible! The next Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease will be held Sept. 26–27, 2016. For more information, please visit 4 | Van Andel Institute Highlights of Hope

NIH Selects Van Andel Research Institute’s Biorepository as an Integral Player in Large-Scale Cancer Study Van Andel Research Institute’s (VARI) Biorepository has been selected as a Biospecimen Core Resource by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a federal project aimed at better understanding the molecular basis of cancer. The project, the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC), is a multi-institutional effort dedicated to improving the understanding of cancer biology though genomic and proteomic analysis, and providing scientists with needed information to design the next generation of cancer therapies. CPTAC is supported by the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI), and is comprised of more than 30 organizations in the U.S. and abroad. CPTAC plans to collect 200 samples each from 10 tumor types, including lung, pancreas, brain, bone, skin and blood cancers. After VARI’s Biorepository processes the samples, other organizations that have been designated as characterization centers will map each sample’s genome (genetic makeup) and its proteome (protein makeup).

VARI Enjoys Growing Profile The designation of VARI’s Biorepository’s as CPTAC’s Biospecimen Core Resource is the

Meghan Hodges uses one of VARI's Biorepository's technologies

latest in a series of high-profile awards for the Institute. In addition to being accredited by the College of American Pathologists, VARI’s Biorepository also is a Comprehensive Biospecimen Resource for NCI’s Biorepository and Biospecimen Research Branch and NIH’s GenotypeTissue Expression (GTEx) project. It provides biobanking and biospecimen

processing for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s CoMMpass study and, beginning this year, the Biorespository also serves as the national biobank for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.

Research reported in this article was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number HHSN261201500055C. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Van Andel Institute Highlights of Hope | 5




Golfing Fore A Very Good Cause Thanks to title sponsor Merrill Lynch, The Veldheer, Long, Mackay & Bernecker Group, the Eighth Annual Van Andel Institute Golf Outing was a sold-out success! More than 100 golfers teed off at the picturesque Wuskowhan Players Club and enjoyed excellent weather during play. Thanks also to host committee members Carol Van Andel, Tim Long, Dave and Beth VanPortfliet, and Brian and Lori Vander Baan for organizing such a wonderful day to raise funds for the Institute!

Third Annual Building Hope A Night to Support Van Andel Institute Unlike prior years that highlighted new construction, this year’s Building Hope event offered an exclusive peek at one of the historically significant Wilcox estates. The 1920s Spanish Revival style home was extensively renovated so that old world splendor now meets modern convenience, and guests were invited to step back in time to enjoy a gorgeous autumn evening, strolling dinner and a live string quartet. Van Andel Research Institute’s Dr. Jeff MacKeigan discussed his team’s work on rare pediatric diseases, including the Institute's Pathway of Hope initiative, which focuses on tuberous sclerosis complex. The event was made possible by the vision and support of title sponsors Mike Schaap Builders and Jeffery Roberts Design.

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Supporting Dynamic Science Education—One Stitch at A Time Title sponsor Amway and the Leigh’s team presented the 10 th anniversary Couture for a Cure fashion show to benefit Van Andel Institute. Guests were invited to have their makeup done at the Amway Artistry Beauty Bar, sip champagne and have their photos taken in a photo booth. Designer Dan Sharp’s luxury outwear collection graced the runway, as did highlights from Leigh’s collection. Both VIP tickets and sponsor opportunities sold out, and the event had a massive crowd—no doubt in part due to those amazing swag bags for a great cause!

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A Night of Operatic Elegance “Phantom of the Opera—Unmasking the Mysteries of Disease” was the theme of this year’s Hope on the Hill Gala. Not only was it the event’s 15th anniversary, this black-tie event also represented the 15th consecutive year with Fifth Third Private Bank as title sponsor. Entertainment included a live performance by Forte, a crossover-operatic trio first discovered on “America’s Got Talent,” and dancing the night away in Club Hope. A live auction and raffle also contributed to funds raised for biomedical research and science education at Van Andel Institute. Thank you to the more than 80 individuals, companies, organizations and foundations that sponsored and contributed to make this evening an amazing success.

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VAI and KiMe Fund Partner to Support Parkinson’s Research Van Andel Institute recently partnered with the KiMe Fund to host a wonderful evening in support of Parkinson’s disease research. The inaugural Driving Toward a Cure gala took place at the beautiful Dearborn Inn across from Ford Motor headquarters and included a cocktail reception, seated dinner, live entertainment and silent auction. Jack Krasula, host of "Anything is Possible" on WJR AM-760, emceed the event, and Dr. Patrik Brundin, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science, Van Andel Research Institute, delivered the keynote address. Additional speakers included Steve Hodges, founder and chairman, KiMe Fund, and Love Collins, III, vice president of development, communications and marketing, Van Andel Institute.

VAI Menlo Park and San Francisco The Institute Goes West Van Andel Institute's events continue to take the Institute’s mission across the country. The two latest stops on the fundraising trail were in Menlo Park and San Francisco, California. The Menlo Park event was hosted by Peter Stamos and Soonmee Cha. The cocktail reception included remarks by Jerry Callahan, who spoke about NexGen Inquiry™, the exciting new web-based, science instructional platform from Van Andel Education Institute Science Academy, and Dr. Stephen Baylin, who spoke about his inspiring work in Van Andel Research Institute’s Center for Epigenetics. The San Francisco event was hosted by Paul Reulbach, publisher of San Francisco Magazine. The cocktail reception took place on NEMA’s rooftop, which is located across from Twitter headquarters.

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HIGHLIGHTS of HOPE “Behind the Mitten” Radio Program Gives Its Support to Hops for Hope “Behind the Mitten” became the latest media partner to embrace Purple Community’s Hops for Hope fundraiser. Hosts Amy Sherman and John Gonzales recently featured the program, in which breweries donate one dollar for each pint of “purple” beer purchased, while taping their weekly radio show at North Peak Brewing Company and at Sundance Grill locations.

ABOUT “BEHIND THE MITTEN” “Behind the Mitten” is a podcast and radio show hosted by Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez. Devoted to beer, food and more, Sherman and Gonzalez discover the best restaurants and latest craft beer news across the state of Michigan.

“It has been great to partner with Purple Community for their special Hops for Hope fundraiser this fall. It has to be the easiest and most fun way to raise money to fight cancer that I have ever seen! And custommade for John and me!” Sherman said enthusiastically. “All you have to do is drink beer all around the state, and one dollar from each pint goes to Van Andel Institute where 100 percent of the money raised goes directly to fighting cancer. So cool!”

About Chef Amy Sherman Amy Sherman is also the host of the “Great American Brew Trail,” a television show that shares the ins and outs, ups and downs and amazing tastes of the American craft beer scene. Amy gets the inside story on some of America’s most popular breweries, one pint at a time.

Thank you, “Behind the Mitten,” for spreading the word about Hops for Hope!

Visit for more information about where to find a “purple” beer near you.

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About John Gonzalez (Gonzo) John Gonzales, Mike Lloyd, Amy Sherman

John Gonzalez is a journalist, baseball coach, Believer, husband, “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol” fan and pop culture diehard.

Pure Barre on the Blue Bridge— Pure Barre Grand Rapids’ second annual total body workout class on Grand Rapids' very own Blue Bridge was bigger and better than ever, with more than 120 participants and thousands of dollars raised. Proceeds from the event support cancer and Parkinson’s disease research at Van Andel Institute.

Thank You!

Thank you to Kiersten Kemp of Pure Barre Grand Rapids and Jill Bromley of Lolë and their fabulous, flexible teams for their dedicated support.

Pure Barre participants work out for a great cause

Purple Gear for Holiday Cheer Want to give a great holiday gift that also gives back? Visit and shop Purple Community’s online store. Turn your closet purple with a variety of products, ranging from Contigo Kangaroo water bottles to cooling performance long-sleeve crews and stadium blankets. All profits from every sale go directly to biomedical research and science education at Van Andel Institute.

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333 Bostwick Ave NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503

This holiday season, you can honor or remember a loved one while supporting cancer and neurodegenerative disease in a special way—by making a gift to Van Andel Institute.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I am writing today to ask for your help.

When you make your gift of $25 or more by Dec. 31, 2015, you will receive a special edition Van Andel Institute “Hope” ornament to display in honor of your loved one. Your generous gift, no matter the amount, will work to improve the health and enhance the lives of current and future generations. On behalf of all of us at Van Andel Institute, and the many

It’s that time of year where we gather with family and friends, celebrating and enjoying timeyou together. families who will be holidays helped because of you, thank for caring to make a difference!

But for many families, someone is missing. Perhaps it’s a parent, who passed away from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Maybe it’s a spouse, who lost a hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer. Or it could be a precious child, who was taken much too soon due to a highly-aggressive bone sarcoma.

Yes! I want to support life-saving biomedical research

Maybe there is an empty seat atscience your table, too. Perhaps someone your own family Institute. and innovative education at inVan Andel is not here this year because of cancer or neurodegenerative disease. Name:




Other Amount $

Although nothing will bring them back, there is somethingCheck you can do to ensure enclosed Please make payable to Van Andel Institute. Address: that there are fewer empty seats in the years to come. Credit card Please circle one: MasterCard Am Ex Discover Visa City:

Credit Card Number:

State:or neurodegenerative Zip Code:disease, or has lost the Expiration: cancer battle, by making a CVV: gift to Van Andel Institute. When you make your gift of $25 or more Signature: Email: by December 31, 2015, you will receive a special edition Van Andel Institute “Hope” ornament to display in honor of yourPlease lovedrepeat one. my gift monthly (Credit card required)

Your generous gift, no matter what amount, will work to improve the health and enhance the lives of current and future generations.


Profile for Van Andel Institute

Highlights of Hope - Winter 2015  

A magazine for donors with event photos, donor stories, and updates about what’s going on at Van Andel Institute. Read about the work made p...

Highlights of Hope - Winter 2015  

A magazine for donors with event photos, donor stories, and updates about what’s going on at Van Andel Institute. Read about the work made p...