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2021 Spring/Summer Highlights of Hope

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The 2021 Spring/Summer edition of Van Andel Institute's Highlights of Hope donor publication.

RESEARCH Grand

RESEARCH Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease goes virtual in 2020 In September, more than 700 people from around the world joined together for our Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease scientific symposium and Rallying to the Challenge meeting for people with Parkinson’s and care partners, co-hosted with Cure Parkinson’s. For the first time, both events were virtual, enabling record attendance while participants safely joined in from home. Together, the events focused on exploring a question that holds importance for people with Parkinson’s, scientists and VAI donors: When and where does Parkinson’s start? Speakers highlighted the latest research into the earliest stages and symptoms of the disease, discussed potential triggers, and brainstormed how understanding its origins may lead to new therapies. We also honored three incredible scientists for their contributions to the field and commitment to the Parkinson’s community. This year’s events focused on exploring a question that holds importance for people with Parkinson’s, scientists and VAI donors: When and where does Parkinson’s start? DR. DANIELA BERG DR. RON POSTUMA DR. CAROLINE TANNER VAI presented the Jay Van Andel Award for Outstanding Achievement in Parkinson’s Disease Research to Dr. Daniela Berg and Dr. Ron Postuma for their groundbreaking efforts to identify the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and to translate their findings into new diagnostic criteria. Berg is the chair and director of the Department of Neurology at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, Germany. Postuma is a professor of neurology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Cure Parkinson’s and VAI presented Dr. Caroline Tanner of University of California, San Francisco’s Weill Institute for Neurosciences with the 2020 Tom Isaacs Award, which honors individuals who have had a significant impact on the lives of people with Parkinson’s and/or involved them in a participatory way in research. Throughout her inspiring career, Tanner has sought to better understand the causes of Parkinson’s and to develop better treatments for those with the disease. Read more at vai.org/2020-gcpd-recap and save the date for the next Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease, which will be held Oct. 6–7, 2021. Speakers highlighted the latest research into the earliest stages and symptoms of the disease, discussed potential triggers, and brainstormed how understanding its origins may lead to new therapies. 6 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

COURTESY LÜ LAB The images taken with VAI’s state-of-the-art cryo-EM reveal a wedding bouquet-like structure, with molecular “gates” that open and close. Understanding how brain cells maintain balance to keep us healthy Imagine standing on the moon and having eyes so powerful that you can clearly watch a tennis match on Earth. Now imagine that same optical power packed into a high-tech microscope, and you have cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM — a groundbreaking technology that helps scientists study the smallest components of life in exquisite detail. Using the Institute’s state-of-the-art cryo- EM, VAI scientists Dr. Wei Lü and Dr. Juan Du, in collaboration with Dr. Zhaozhu Qiu of Johns Hopkins University, captured high-resolution images that help explain how cells sense and respond to their environment. The images depict molecular “gates” that open and close, letting chemical messages in and out while also helping maintain pH balance within brain cells — a critical function that keeps cells alive and helps prevent stroke and other brain injuries. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 7

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