HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | NOVEMBER 2016 2 Meet VARI'S Physician Scientists | 3 Aditi Bagchi Profile 4 Collaborating Against Cancer | 6 Couture for a Cure 8 Hope on the Hill | 10 Golf Outing with Tim Tebow | 11 Bee Brave 5K 12 Empowering Science Students | 13 20 Years, 20 Facts 14 George Mickel Profile | 15 Upcoming Events
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: MEET VARI'S PHYSICIAN-SCIENTISTS Q Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor, Center for Neurodegenerative Science, Van Andel Research Institute; Collaborating Researcher, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Patrick Grohar, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor, Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, Van Andel Research Institute; Pediatric Oncologist, Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Stefan Jovinge, M.D., Ph.D. Professor, Center for Epigenetics, Van Andel Research Institute; Director, DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program (a joint effort between VARI and Spectrum Health); Medical Director of Research, Frederik Meijer Heart & Vascular Institute, Spectrum Health
Matthew Steensma, M.D. Assistant Professor, Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, Van Andel Research Institute; Orthopedic Surgeon, Spectrum Health
What is the best part of being a physicianscientist?
MS: There are many wonderful aspects of being a physician-scientist, as well as unique challenges. What I really like about physician-scientist work is the ability to see the "entire picture," from bedside to bench and back. In my opinion, it's the best way to develop a comprehensive understanding of a complex disease like sarcoma. When you do translational research as a clinician, you acquire a deep understanding of the genetics or molecular biology of disease. It's a great reminder of the invisible battle going on inside of a patient. It can also be incredibly frustrating because it takes a lot of time to implement promising research findings, or your project simply fails. These frustrations are inherent to all medical research, but as a physicianscientist you always want to see the impact of your research. In many ways, our success is defined by how we improve the lives of our patients through research. The job is very motivating, not only for myself but also for our lab members, who really appreciate the context of their work. SJ: In my case as a critical care cardiologist, I see very sick patients, sometimes in a hopeless condition. To be part of the cutting edge to generate new technologies and treatments gives me a lot of inspiration and energy to move things forward. LB: The best part is that I am able to do true translational research. I observe symptoms in patients that generate ideas and hypotheses that I then can test directly in my own laboratory. It is very fulfilling to be able to work like that. It is great to work with the full spectrum of research—to enroll patients in our clinical studies working directly with several hospitals in Grand Rapids; to evaluate the patient’s symptoms; collect blood and tissue samples; and then work on these samples in my own laboratory, put together the results, and finally interpret them, often together with our skilled biostatisticians at VARI. PG: Being a physician-scientist is the best of both worlds. I enjoy working directly with patients and making a
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difference in their care, while also using the tools available to me as a scientist to investigate questions that arise in the clinic. Although the approaches may be different, they’re completely complementary and they have the same goal—to help patients fight these devastating cancers.
How does your clinical experience inform your research? How does your research inform your clinical work? MS: Practicing medicine allows you to identify gaps in care that only research can fill. Conducting research on a disease that you frequently see in the clinic gives you a platform to apply your research findings toward the betterment of your patients. SJ: My clinical experience gives me inspiration to drive my mission and leads to ideas either from direct experience or from the results we retrieve from our clinical research. Our basic research inspires me as a clinician by knowing the possibilities—
it opens my eyes to see opportunities to find new treatments for patients. In the lab, we see future treatments, which is very inspirational. LB: As a researcher, I don’t think anything can be more motivating than personally meeting the patients who you are trying to find a cure for. Preclinical researchers also reach out to and meet with patients, but as a clinical researcher, you are lucky enough to get that motivation on a daily basis. My research has established that many patients with depression and suicidal ideation have high levels of inflammation in the blood. Now I am trying to spread that knowledge back to the clinic. It is important because inflammation in these patients could potentially be treated, and the patients might benefit from this in terms of fewer symptoms of depression, according to our hypothesis. I am writing reviews and clinical guidelines on this topic, informing the clinical community of the risk of psychiatric symptoms during inflammatory
conditions. I am also planning treatment studies together with hospitals in Grand Rapids in the near future, where we hope to treat depressive patients with anti-inflammatory agents to reduce their symptoms. PG: The lab and the clinic are two sides of the same coin. Ultimately, everything we do in the lab is focused on finding better ways to help patients. At the same time, our experiences working directly with patients in the clinic give us important insight that we can then investigate in the lab. On a more personal level, working with patients is a strong motivator to identify the problems and the shortcomings in current therapeutic approaches and to try to solve these problems through our research. The reverse is also true—the lab gives us the tools to develop new treatment strategies and bring them to patients in a scientifically rigorous way.
BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS BETWEEN THE LAB AND CLINIC Van Andel Institute Graduate School Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship-Ph.D. Program As a physician working with children at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, pediatric oncology fellow Dr. Aditi Bagchi discovered she sometimes has more questions than answers. “We often treat children who are critically ill,” Bagchi said. “It’s very difficult to have to explain to their parents that we have limited knowledge about their disease. I wanted to be able to answer the unknown questions and also help develop improved treatments for children with lifethreatening illnesses. Getting involved with basic and translational research provides that opportunity.” The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship-Ph.D. program at Van Andel Institute Graduate School offers physicians the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. while continuing to practice medicine. Unlike the
traditional physician-scientist degree track, which requires two years of medical school, four years of a Ph.D. program, and then an additional two years of medical school, the Institute’s fellowship program provides a less linear approach to a doctoral degree. “We have designed my doctoral program around my specialization in pediatric oncology,” Bagchi said. “The program is especially meaningful because of its relevance to the children I treat. I more deeply understand the molecular basis and mechanisms of disease, which will help me break down the walls between the lab and the clinic.” Balancing the program’s demanding requirements while working as a full-time physician is not easy, but the rewards are life-changing, both for Bagchi and the children she treats. “My life’s goal is to minimize the existing gap between bench and bedside; I believe the education and training I am getting
DR. ADITI BAGCHI
through this dual program will help me design more scientifically accurate clinical trials that will impact ailing children across the globe,” Bagchi said. “The Institute’s fellowship program is innovative. Its impact on my ability to help my patients is incredible.” For information on Van Andel Institute Graduate School visit vaigs.vai.org.
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COLLABORATING AGAINST CANCER When Trina Taylor hit the runway for the 11th annual Couture for a Cure, the crowd rose to its feet in applause. “I always take in a deep breath of air right before I take my first step because in my mind I’m carrying all of those women that are dealing with the same things I am—being bald, living with cancer. For me it’s empowering,” Taylor said. “Instead of walking the runway, I was taking a bow and in that bow, I was saying ‘thank you.’” In 2012, Taylor was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. She’s been fighting hard ever since, undergoing numerous rounds of chemotherapy and becoming a well-known advocate in the patient community. Taylor is also a fashion model, and has recently walked in runway shows in Paris and New York. However, despite her best efforts and those of her doctors, her cancer continued to recur and eventually became resistant to traditional treatments. Then, a year ago, everything changed. Trina’s physician, Dr. Nilofer Azad, suggested she enroll in a Van Andel Research Institute–Stand Up To Cancer (VARI-SU2C) Epigenetics Dream Team clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University for a new combination treatment aimed at reprogramming cancer cells to better respond to chemotherapy. So far, it’s working “beautifully,” Azad said. “The importance of a clinical trial is that it gives so many people hope, hope for what’s next,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s very emotional when it comes to clinical trials because everything that I do as far as my cancer journey is wrapped around being able to see my son’s eyes.”
TRINA TAYLOR WALKS THE RUNWAY AT COUTURE FOR A CURE.
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Taylor's story embodies not only the impact of research and clinical trials, but also of collaboration. Following the paradigmshifting framework of Stand Up To Cancer,
“Trina is an absolutely amazing, strong woman and is a poignant reminder of why supporting scientific research and, in particular, clinical trials is so very important.” - Carol Van Andel the VARI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team brings together leading scientists, physicians and pharmaceutical companies with one goal—to compete against cancer rather than against each other. Bringing Together Fashion and Science More than 11 years ago, another sort of collaboration got underway, one that combined a love of high fashion with the generosity of the West Michigan community. Spearheaded by Carol Van Andel and supported by a dedicated group of community and business partners, the Institute hosted the inaugural Couture for a Cure at Leigh’s in East Grand Rapids in 2006. That first event, which has been sponsored by Amway since its inception, laid the foundation for what has now become West Michigan’s premiere fashion event, and has featured some of fashion’s most sought-after up-and-coming designers.
2017 collection, which meshes timeless sophistication with a youthful edge. His designs have been worn by First Lady Michelle Obama and A-list celebrities including Katy Perry, Emma Watson, Miranda Kerr and Gwyneth Paltrow. Make Memories on Purpose More than just a celebration of fashion, Couture for a Cure has come to represent the impact that a community can have on research. “This year’s Couture for a Cure was particularly special and we hope that it not only entertained, but also inspired,” Van Andel said. “Trina is an absolutely amazing, strong woman and is a poignant reminder of why supporting scientific research and, in particular, clinical trials is so very important.” By sharing her story, Taylor hopes to encourage others who are fighting cancer. She serves a patient ambassador at Johns Hopkins, reminding people to stay hopeful and to be open to the idea of clinical trials. Throughout all of her efforts, her slogan, “make memories on purpose” shines through. Its message is simple, but powerful. "Think about what you can do to make a memory today," Taylor said. "Don't let cancer steal your joy. Keep on living."
(TOP) CAROL AND DAVID VAN ANDEL WITH TRINA TAYLOR; (BOTTOM) DESIGNER
“Couture for a Cure was born out of a love for fashion and a determination to use it to positively impact human health,” Van Andel said. “We are fortunate to be part of a community that so generously supports our efforts to eradicate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that steal the lives of our loved ones.”
From the lab to the clinic: Van Andel Research Institute– Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team
This year, models walked the longest runway in Couture for a Cure’s history, sporting the latest trends in suiting, evening wear and street style from Leigh’s and the fall limited edition collection from ARTISTRY. The show closed with a preview of New York-based designer Wes Gordon’s spring
The VARI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team fosters collaboration between several of the world’s most respected research and clinical organizations in an effort to translate scientific discoveries into new standards of patient care. Its goal is to get new and more effective cancer therapies to patients faster. The team currently supports two clinical trials—one in metastatic colorectal cancer and one in the blood cancers myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia—and has several others in development.
WES GORDON WALKS THE RUNWAY.
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EVENTS: COUTURE FOR A CURE
(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) ARTISTRY BEAUTY BAR; REBECCA WIERDA, WES GORDON AND CAROL VAN ANDEL; MODELS WALKING THE RUNWAY; CAROL VAN ANDEL SPEAKING; TRINA TAYLOR AND DR. PETER JONES; CANDACE MATTHEWS OF AMWAY WELCOMING ATTENDEES; COUTURE FOR A CURE AUDIENCE.
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THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS TITLE SPONSOR Amway
Lake Michigan Credit Union Joe & Amanda Lanser Luxeire McAlvey & Merchant Associates Todd Wenzel Automotive
PRESENTING SPONSOR Leigh's VIP PARTY SPONSORS David & Carol Van Andel Family Foundation Lighthouse Insurance Group Inc. VINTAGE SPONSORS Chuck & Christine Boelkins CWD Real Estate Investment Mercy Health Regal Financial Group LLC Tom & Brenda Rinks Steve & Amy Van Andel Foundation West Michigan Woman Magazine Greg & Meg Willit RUNWAY SPONSORS Channel 95.7 & 100.5 The River (Townsquare Media) Cynthia Kay & Company Eileen DeVries Family Foundation Jana Hall Paul & Sheryl Haverkate Jandernoa Foundation
IN-KIND SPONSORS Amway Amway Grand Plaza Hotel ARTISTRY Blue Water Technologies Wes Gordon Leigh’s M.C.L. by Matthew Campbell Laurenza Modern Day Floral The Crown Jewel Spa & Salon XS Energy Drink RESTAURANT SPONSORS CitySén Lounge Divani Eurest Twisted Rooster HAIR STYLIST SPONSOR The Crown Jewel Spa & Salon
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EVENTS: HOPE ON THE HILL
(STARTING AT THE TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT) LANDAU EUGENE MURPHY JR. WITH CAROL AND DAVID VAN ANDEL; DAVE AND CAROL RICE; LANDAU EUGENE MURPHY JR. PERFORMING; ANNE AND JOHN ZIMMERMAN; DAVID VAN ANDEL SPEAKING.
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THANK YOU FOR CELEBRATING OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY! TITLE SPONSOR Fifth Third Private Bank ENTERTAINMENT SPONSOR The Veldheer, Long, Mackay & Bernecker Group of Merrill Lynch VIP PARTY SPONSORS Amway David & Carol Van Andel Family Foundation Fred L. Hansen Corp. John & Nancy Kennedy Jamie Mills & Jim Nichols Lighthouse Insurance Group Inc. Meijer West Michigan Woman Magazine DIAMOND SPONSOR Jandernoa Foundation PLATINUM SPONSORS Chuck & Christine Boelkins Czech Asset Management Ferris State University/Kendall College of Art & Design Dan & Magee Gordon Howard Miller Pitsch Companies The Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation GOLD SPONSORS Carnevale Channel 95.7 & 100.5 The River (Townsquare Media) Cumulus Broadcasting Granger Group Huizenga Group iHeartMedia – B93 Lake Michigan Credit Union Stephen Klotz Family Foundation Warner Norcross & Judd LLP Wolverine Worldwide Women's Lifestyle Magazine
SILVER SPONSORS David & Jill Bielema Colliers International Davenport University The Douglas & Maria DeVos Foundation Grand Valley State University Gary & Vicky Ludema McAlvey Merchant & Associates Mercy Health Norris, Perne & French, LLP Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation Preusser Jewelers Rowerdink Inc. Rob & Susan Stafford Taconic Charitable Foundation Williams Kitchen & Bath BRONZE SPONSORS Aon BDO USA, LLP Matt & Shari Berger Buist Electric Jerry & Suzanne Callahan Calvin College Cancer & Hematology Centers of Western Michigan, P.C. Custer, Inc. Deloitte DK Security Eenhoorn, LLC Ellis Parking Ferris Coffee & Nut Co. First National Bank Grand Rapids Community College Martin & Peggy Greydanus The I.C.N. Foundation Craig & Debra Kinney Al & Robin Koop Ray & Jeannine Lanning Macatawa Bank Metro Health Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
MLive Media Group Pioneer Construction Priority Health Rockford Construction SecurAlarm Systems Steelcase Truscott Rossman Dave & Beth Van Portfliet VanEerden Food Service Russell & Christine Visner Wells Fargo Greg & Meg Willit Jim & Jane Zwiers RESTAURANT SPONSORS Amway Grand Plaza Hotel The Chop House CitySén Lounge Divani Eurest (VAI Cafe) FOODesign by Chef Brech The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck Leo’s Reserve Slows Bar•B•Q Wheelhouse IN-KIND SPONSORS Bluewater Technologies Brothers Leather Supply Cascade Rental The Crown Jewel Spa & Salon FireKeepers Casino Hotel Founders Brewing Co. Gray Skies Distillery Hotel Walloon Ice Sculptures Ltd. Little River Casino & Resort Long Road Distillers Modern Day Floral New Holland Brewing Preusser Jewelers XS Energy Drink
(LEFT TO RIGHT) THERESE ROWERDINK AND KATIE OOSTEMA; KAREN AND JERRY DEBLAAY WITH LANDAU EUGENE MURPHY JR.; TONY GATES AND MARANDA.
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VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE GOLF OUTING 2016 Van Andel Institute’s ninth annual Golf Outing brought dozens of donors and friends of the Institute together for a day of golf, philanthropy and hope.
THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTIVE SPONSORS
Special guest Tim Tebow toured the Institute on the day of the event and had the opportunity to visit with David and Carol Van Andel, as well as Associate Director of Research Dr. Patrik Brundin. During the event, Tebow spoke powerfully about his personal faith, and his interest in Parkinson’s disease research. “It was extremely inspiring to visit the Institute, meet David and Carol Van Andel and Dr. Brundin, and learn about the Institute’s innovative approaches to Parkinson’s research,” Tebow said. “It’s always a good feeling to support people who are trying to make the world a better, more hopeful place.” Sponsorships for the Golf Outing were at an all-time high, led by Merrill Lynch, which has served as the event’s Title Sponsor for seven years. “The Institute’s mission is very important to Merrill Lynch,” said Tim Long, managing director and global institutional consultant for Merrill Lynch, and VAI Board of Governors co-chair. "We are proud to be a part of the Institute's effort to fight cancer, Parkinson's and other diseases."
TITLE SPONSOR The Veldheer, Long, Mackay & Bernecker Group of Merrill Lynch
“It was extremely inspiring to visit the Institute, meet David and Carol Van Andel and Dr. Brundin, and learn about the Institute’s innovative approaches to Parkinson’s research. It’s always a good feeling to support people who are trying to make the world a better, more hopeful place.” - Tim Tebow
Next year’s Golf Outing is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, at Wuskowhan Players Club in West Olive, Michigan. This annual event sells out every year, but you can reserve your foursome or sponsorship now by contacting Sarah Rollman at email@example.com.
DINNER SPONSOR Lighthouse Insurance Group RECEPTION SPONSOR US BANK LUNCH SPONSORS Dan & Lou Ann Gaydou John & Nancy Kennedy GOLF CART SPONSORS Belwith Products Eileen DeVries Family Foundation Grand Rapids Christian Schools Priority Health Rowerdink Inc. The Sharpe Collection Thomas & Mary Stuit Townsquare Media Dave & Beth Van Portfliet Brian & Lori Vander Baan Wells Fargo Bank PRIZE SPONSOR Steve & Kathryn Bandstra CONTRIBUTING SPONSOR Standard Lumber
(TOP) DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN, TIM TEBOW, CAROL AND DAVID VAN ANDEL; (BOTTOM) TIM LONG, TIMOTHY MYERS, STEVE SPOELHOF AND PHIL VOGELSANG.
(LEFT) ALEX MCNAMARA AND TIM TEBOW.
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TEE SPONSORS Berends, Hendricks & Stuit Insurance Agency Crystal Clean Auto Detailing Foot & Ankle Specialists Life EMS Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
(LEFT) RACE DIRECTOR PAT RINGNALDA AND FRIENDS AT THE 5K.
THE 2016 BEE BRAVE 5K Hundreds of West Michigan runners and walkers laced up their shoes and brought incredible energy to the ninth annual Bee Brave 5K on Oct. 8. As always, 100 percent of the proceeds from the event go directly to the labs at Van Andel Institute (VAI) to support breast cancer research. “The Bee Brave 5K has supported the fight against breast cancer since its inception, and has not only been an incredible financial success, but has formed an unshakable sense of community among participants,” said Ringnalda. “I found this same powerful sense of togetherness at a Purple Community event last year and felt compelled to translate the funds raised into local dollars that benefit breast cancer research at Van Andel Institute, right here in West Michigan.” A celebration of brave women and families affected by cancer, the Bee Brave 5K included music, door prizes, an award ceremony—and most importantly, a sense of comradery that comes from sharing an important goal. This annual event is a memorable event that serves as a source of strength for participants long after race day.
RUNNERS AT THE NINTH ANNUAL BEE BRAVE 5K.
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EMPOWERING SCIENCE STUDENTS Lowell High School biology teacher Heather DeJonge wants to help students see science through a new lens. As part of Van Andel Education Institute’s (VAEI) Partners in Science program, she discovered how to harness their natural curiosity and actively engage them in the learning process. “For too long, learning has been a passive experience filled with lectures and memorization,” DeJonge said. “Students are far more interested when they develop their own questions and research possible answers. My goal is to put them in the driver’s seat right away.” Over the past two years, DeJonge has participated in several professional development programs offered by VAEI, including spending her summers working in Dr. Jeremy Van Raamsdonk’s lab at Van Andel Research Institute investigating the mechanisms of aging, and the role of
“With Van Andel Education Institute’s help, we are changing how science is taught and learned and, I believe, creating a generation of self-sufficient learners.” - Heather DeJonge aging in Parkinson’s disease. Last fall, DeJonge started an after-school research club based on experiments she conducted in Van Raamsdonk’s lab. Her students gained an entirely new perspective on science. “Most science classes already have the instructions for lab experiments laid out, and we usually know the outcome,” said Brianna Roest, a junior at Lowell. “The exciting part of Research Club is that we
make our own instructions, compare data and learn through trial and error, all while relying on other students to figure out next steps.” DeJonge finds it especially rewarding to see her students take more ownership over their projects. “They not only learn the importance of teamwork, but have become personally vested in their research,” DeJonge said. “Students are checking on their projects throughout the school day—not just during class.” Last spring, Research Club culminated with a unique opportunity for students to present their results to scientists in Van Raamsdonk’s laboratory. This year, students are collecting data that Van Raamsdonk’s lab will use in future research. “Coming face-to-face with real science opened my mind, especially after our indepth work throughout the school year,” said Hunter Krzysik, a junior at Lowell. “The whole experience made me much more interested in choosing science as a career and showed me how ongoing collaboration is an important part of scientific discovery.” Following a successful first year, the Lowell Board of Education decided to expand Research Club into three additional classes for the 2016-2017 school year. Looking forward, DeJonge is confident her work with the Institute will continue to open even more avenues for her students to learn and grow. “With Van Andel Education Institute’s help, we are changing how science is taught and learned and, I believe, creating a generation of self-sufficient learners,” DeJonge said. “It’s an incredible experience. My students inspire me every day.”
HEATHER DEJONGE WITH HER STUDENTS AT LOWELL HIGH SCHOOL.
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Since 2001, the Institute has provided more than 300 students with summer internships. This year, VAI hosted 38 interns who represented 19 different educational institutions during the two summer sessions.
20 YEARS, 20 FACTS In honor of Van Andel Institute’s 20th anniversary, we’re sharing 20 facts about the Institute. We hope you learn something new!
VAI is home to over 360 employees representing more than 29 countries.
Since Van Andel Institute broke ground in 1998, it has spurred vital economic growth in Grand Rapids, including more than $2 billion worth of research and heath care infrastructure along the city’s Medical Mile.
Dale Chihuly’s sculpture, Life, was unveiled in 2005 and hangs in the Institute’s lobby. The sculpture was commissioned by Jay Van Andel in 2004 in memory of Betty Van Andel.
VARI is home to three fellows of the American Association for the Advancements of Science: • Dr. Gerd Pfeifer • Dr. Peter Jones • Dr. George Vande Woude
VARI’s Biorepository is accredited by the College of American Pathologists and provides biospecimen and biobanking services for several National Institutes of Health-funded projects. All five members of the Research Institute’s first Board of Scientific Advisors were esteemed scientists who were or became Nobel Laureates. • Michael Brown, M.D. • Richard Axel, M.D. • Joseph Goldstein, M.D. • Daniel Nathans, M.D. • Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D. VARI currently has 33 principal investigators.
VARI scientists Drs. Peter Jones, Stephen Baylin and Stefan Jovinge played key roles in discoveries that were hailed as notable advances of 2015 by Nature Medicine.
Since its founding, VARI investigators have published more than 1,000 peer-reviewed articles.
12 Three of VARI’s faculty are fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy: • Dr. Peter Jones • Dr. Stephen Baylin • Dr. George Vande Woude
VARI’s Founding Research Director Dr. George Vande Woude and current Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Peter Jones are members of the National Academy of Sciences.
VAEI has worked with more than 3,600 students and 2,500 teachers since 1996.
The Education Institute’s staff of 15 share their space with more than 65 organisms such as bearded dragons, geckos, turtles and salamanders.
VARI is part of two large, international collaborations aimed at moving promising therapies into clinical trials—the Van Andel Research Institute-Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team and the VARI-Cure Parkinson’s Trust Linked Clinical Trials initiative.
From 2011 to 2016, VAEI increased the number of teachers participating in face-to-face professional development by 2,240%, reaching more than 1,100 so far in 2016!
This year, 750 students (and counting) have participated in a VAEI program, compared to 275 in 2011.
The staff at VAEI has a combined total of 244 years of professional experience in the education industry.
Purple Community hosts more than 120 events per year, organized by individuals, schools, teams and organizations who raise more than $300,000 annually for Van Andel Institute.
100% of Van Andel Institute Graduate School doctoral graduates have gone into postdoctoral fellowships or industry positions, as of October 2016.
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A DONOR’S STORY: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE— R. GEORGE MICKEL “Van Andel Institute is something I am very proud to be involved with, because its mission represents faith, hope and knowledge that lead to the end goal of improving the health and well-being of humanity.” - R. George Mickel received from those who gave of their time and treasure when he was growing up.
R. GEORGE MICKEL
Van Andel Institute Board of Governors member and philanthropist R. George Mickel isn’t subtle when he talks about Van Andel Institute. Mickel believes passionately that the Institute has an undeniably important role to play in the future of human health and that it is an incredible gift to humanity. “Only through research and education can humanity advance toward a better future,” Mickel said. “I really believe that Van Andel Institute and its work on cancer and other diseases and its dedication to science education is a gift to future generations.” Philanthropy for Mickel is not merely an act of generosity or goodwill, it is a way of life. As a young boy growing up in Toledo, Ohio, during the Great Depression, Mickel witnessed the devastation of poverty on his neighborhood. He also had the opportunity to take part in the Boys and Girls Club, where he received mentoring and learned how to be part of a community. He later became a camp counselor and helped
children who, like Mickel, grew up without much money or many opportunities. “It was a place for poor kids coming out of the Depression. I was a camp counselor and helped other kids like myself. I enjoyed it immensely,” Mickel said. “The experience gave me a sense of the beauty of humanity and the importance of helping others.” Mickel went on to serve in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II and pursue a successful career with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. After retiring, Mickel reflected on the generosity and kindness he was shown as a young boy in Ohio. In what Mickel calls the “autumn of his life,” he joined the Grand Rapids Police Department as a senior volunteer, became an active member of numerous boards, including the Boys and Girls Club, and began his philanthropic work with Van Andel Institute. Even though he had experienced great success, he recognized that his accomplishments were made possible because of the guidance he
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“What we do and what we are thankful for really defines the moral fiber of our lives,” Mickel said. “Volunteering and being active in my community brought me back to where I come from, gave me a strong sense of purpose and taught me a lot about honor, integrity and personal values.” Today, a man wise with experience, it’s not prestige or material possessions that Mickel values–it’s optimism, spiritual faith and the joy of giving back. One of Mickel’s favorite sayings is “anything is possible.” As a member of the Institute’s Board of Governors and a committed donor, Mickel is confident that his contributions and relationship with Van Andel Institute will help educate the next generation of great scientists and lead to the next discovery that could change the way cancer or neurodegenerative diseases are treated. “Van Andel Institute is something I am very proud to be involved with, because its mission represents faith, hope and knowledge that lead to the end goal of improving the health and well-being of humanity,” Mickel said. “I have always believed that if we use the abilities and experiences God gives us to do good in the world, anything is possible.”
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR 2017! February 23, 2017
March 2, 2017
March 9, 2017
September 18, 2017
October 12, 2017
October 26, 2017
ON THE HILL GALA
Our events sell out fastâ€”make sure you reserve your tickets today! For questions about tickets or sponsorship, contact Sarah Rollman at Sarah.Rollman@vai.org. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 15
GIVE THE GIFT OF HOPE This holiday season, you can honor or remember a loved one while supporting cancer and neurodegenerative disease research in a special way - by making a gift to Van Andel Institute. When you make your gift of $25 or more by Dec. 31, 2016, you will receive a special edition Van Andel Institute â€œHopeâ€? ornament to display in honor of your loved one. Your generous gift, no matter what amount, will work to improve the health and enhance the lives of current and future generations.
Reduce your taxes with an IRA gift. Did you know that you can reduce your taxes by making a gift from your IRA to Van Andel Institute? An IRA rollover is a simple and easy way for you to help us fulfill our mission. For more information contact
On behalf of all of us at Van Andel Institute, and the many families who will be helped because of you, thank you for caring to make a difference!
Patrik Placzkowski at 616.234.5030.
333 BOSTWICK AVE NE GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49503 WWW.VAI.ORG
Will you consider a gift to help us continue in our fight against cancer and other diseases that affect more of our loved ones every day? Your response is requested by Dec. 31, 2016
Donate today at vai.org/give
Enclosed is my contribution of:
Is all of your information correct? If not, please call 616-234-5552. Please send me my "Hope" ornament in honor or memory of:
Credit Card Number_____________________________________________________
City____________________________________ State_________ Zip________
Please repeat my gift monthly. (Credit card and email required) I have included Van Andel Institute in my estate plans. I would like more information about including Van Andel Institute in my estate plans. * Please make payable to Van Andel Institute.