Views
1 year ago

2020 Annual Report

  • Text
  • Scientists
  • Education
  • Michigan
  • Epigenetics
  • Vai
  • Institute
  • Virtual
This is the 2020 Annual Report for Van Andel Institute.

In Memoriam Dr. Viviane

In Memoriam Dr. Viviane Labrie, an associate professor at Van Andel Institute, passed away in a tragic vehicle accident Aug. 21, 2020. She was an imaginative, creative scientist. Her ability to look at the world through different lenses allowed her to see things in new ways, and ultimately revealed groundbreaking insights with the potential to change lives. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, and raised in the small town of Deep River, Ontario, Dr. Labrie quickly established herself as a globally recognized leader in her field. Although early in her career, she already had made pioneering discoveries that continue to transform the understanding of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, including the revelation that the appendix may be a starting point for Parkinson’s. Her findings led to exciting new avenues of discovery for potential treatments for these diseases and shed light on the underpinnings of many other conditions, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and lactose intolerance. Innately curious, Dr. Labrie’s creativity and tenacity were immediately evident and energizing to those around her. She rapidly advanced, earning an early promotion to associate professor in 2019 — a tremendous achievement. Throughout her career, she earned numerous scientific awards and honors, including highly competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense. Peter Secchia, an ardent supporter of Van Andel Institute and a member of its Board of Governors, passed away Oct. 21, 2020, at the age of 83. He often was described as “larger than life” and leaves a substantial hole in the collective spirit of West Michigan and in the hearts of family and friends worldwide. Along with his wife, Joan, Secchia was a longtime supporter of VAI from the early years. Secchia was the recipient of many notable awards throughout his life, including the Carol Van Andel Angel of Excellence Award, which he and Joan each received in 2017. The award celebrates individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions to VAI through volunteer service and philanthropy. Elsewhere on the Medical Mile, when Michigan State University was seeking to expand its medical school, Secchia worked to ensure its new campus was located in Grand Rapids. Today, MSU’s College of Human Medicine is housed in the Secchia Center on the city’s Medical Mile. 52 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020

In Memoriam Dr. Luis Tomatis, a driving force in bringing VAI to life, passed away Sept. 29, 2020. Originally from Argentina, Dr. Tomatis was an energetic advocate for Grand Rapids. He was influential in creating and maintaining the environment that enabled the Institute to thrive and the Medical Mile to sprout up around us. Dr. Tomatis helped recruit top-tier scientific talent to establish VAI’s first Board of Scientific Advisors and appoint Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Brown as the board’s first chairman. After serving as VAI’s founding president from 1995–2001, he went on to become the director of medical affairs for the Richard M. DeVos family. A cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Tomatis was a former chief of cardiovascular surgery at Spectrum Health and MSU professor of cardiac surgery. He won numerous awards, volunteered for organizations like the American Heart Association and the Grand Rapids Symphony, and was responsible for arranging for invaluable medical equipment to be sent to his homeland of Argentina. Dr. Gordon Van Wylen passed away Nov. 5, 2020, at the age of 100. As one of VAI’s original trustees, Dr. Van Wylen was instrumental in establishing the early programs of Van Andel Institute for Education and laid the groundwork for VAI’s success. We continue to see his vision in action through the programs we are developing and implementing today, some 25 years later. A man of immense scientific knowledge, education, experience and integrity, Dr. Van Wylen was an accomplished educator and administrator. He served as dean of engineering at University of Michigan, as Hope College president for 15 years, and as founding trustee and inaugural director of Van Andel Institute for Education. Dr. Van Wylen generously devoted his time and talent to numerous other organizations throughout his life. He was widely regarded as a thoughtful, visionary, kind and respectful leader. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 53

Publications by Year