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2007 Annual Report

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  • Andel
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  • Vari
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Highlighting and

Highlighting and Supporting Undergraduate Research Research conferences aren’t usually held for undergraduates, but on October 20, 2007, the new Van Andel Institute Graduate School hosted the first annual West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference. The expansive Cook-Hauenstein Hall at Van Andel Institute (VAI) was filled with rows of posters that approximately 120 students had created to share their research with peers, faculty, and parents throughout the day. Posters reflected a wide range of scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, ecology, hydrology, endocrinology, neuroscience, evolution, and psychology. Students also had a chance to hear from scholars and scientists currently working in either academic or translational research fields, as well as Dr. James Lightbourne, National Science Foundation senior advisor for integration of research & education, who delivered the keynote presentation. “Reaching students at the undergraduate level, before they decide on the direction of their graduate studies and careers, is the best time to impart the real-world experience of a research conference that participants enjoyed at this event,” said Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., dean of the VAI Graduate School, which hosted and organized the event along with Grand Valley State University, Calvin College, and Hope College. Posters from students filled the Cook-Hauenstein Hall at the Institute Approximately 140 undergraduate students and 60 faculty from West Michigan colleges and universities attended the conference. Attendees included students from the organizing universities, as well as those from Aquinas College, Ferris State University, University of Michigan, and Grand Rapids Community College. Triezenberg said that the conference is one way to help build the regional intellectual community, and that students who might have otherwise left the state to look for work also found out about career opportunities in West Michigan. Van Andel Education Institute

Internal Medicine Research Residency Program Van Andel Institute Graduate School and the Grand Rapids Medical Education and Research Center (GRMERC) teamed up in 2007 to launch the Internal Medicine Research Residency Program, which offers students a Ph.D. degree in molecular and cell biology, and state licensure and board eligibility in internal medicine. GRMERC is a medical, health education and research consortium of the leading health care and education providers in Grand Rapids and offers residency programs in more than a dozen areas. Its members include Michigan State University, Spectrum Health, Saint Mary’s Health Care and Grand Valley State University. “Students completing their medical school training who have a passion for biomedical research or translational medicine are well suited for this program,” said Steven J. Triezenberg, dean of the VAI Graduate School. “They already understand the clinician’s perspective on human disease, and our innovative curriculum and programmatic flexibility can develop their research skills.” The program is designed to provide clinical and research training to produce physicians that are prepared for careers as basic science and clinical research scholars. Typically, participants will complete two years of clinical rotations to permit licensure, followed by approximately five years of Ph.D. classroom and research experience. Clinical experiences will continue throughout the research phase, and will typically account for 20 percent of the time. (l to r) Steve Triezenberg and Matt Biersack Throughout the Ph.D. program, students will work closely with Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) investigators, who serve as the school’s faculty. Courses will blend traditional disciplines into a novel, problem-based curriculum with an emphasis on translational research to provide students a wider view of the connections between academia, clinical practice and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Matt Biersack, a 2007 graduate of Wayne State Medical School, is the first participant in the program. He has completed his first year of internal medicine residency training at Spectrum Health and Saint Mary’s Health Care and will begin his Ph.D. training at VAI Graduate School in 2009. VAEI VAI Graduate School www.vai.org 33

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