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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 Dr. Guillermo

RESEARCH Dr. Guillermo Flores combines passion for research, clinical work through dual-degree program Dr. Guillermo Flores wants the best of both worlds as a physicianscientist. His ambition is to blend research and clinical experience to further our understanding of disease and treatment. He’s tackling this admirable goal by pursuing education on both sides of the coin, as part of a dual-degree program offered through a partnership between Van Andel Institute Graduate School and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. “I want the clinic to inform my benchwork, and my benchwork to provide the basis for new therapies,” said Flores, whose research at VAI sought to uncover the causes of pediatric cancers. “An M.D. degree will let me treat individual patients, while a Ph.D. will help me serve larger populations.” Students in this dual-degree program conduct research in VAI labs while pursuing their Ph.D. and work hands-on with patients and mentors during their M.D. training. These programs typically span eight years, with four years of Ph.D. research training flanked on each side by two years of medical and clinical education. While in the Graduate School, students experience an innovative, problem-based learning approach that trains them to conduct high-caliber, rigorous science and to translate basic biological findings into clinical applications. They also undergo extensive professional development in areas such as leadership, ethics, responsible and effective conduct of research, public speaking, and grant and technical writing — all skills necessary for tomorrow’s biomedical research leaders. Flores completed his Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology at VAI in 2020 and is now working to finish his M.D. at MSU College of Human Medicine. Residency training in a medical specialty will likely be the next step in his path to a career as a physicianscientist. For more information, visit vaigs.vai.org/doctoral-program/physicianscientist/. DR. GUILLERMO FLORES 8 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

Two dual-degree programs: in partnership with MSU College of Human Medicine and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine. YEAR ONE Medical training YEARS THREE TO SIX Ph.D. training at VAI YEAR EIGHT Medical training YEAR TWO Medical training YEAR SEVEN Medical training A fellowship provides financial assistance during Graduate School years, including: • A stipend for living expenses • Health, dental, vision and life insurance • A full waiver of tuition for the degree • ,000 per year for travel to scientific conferences Grad School makes milestones in 2020 Preparing for growth, Graduate School moves to new space VAI Graduate School Dean Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg has big plans for the future. Among them: doubling the number of graduate students within the next few years. Applications already are at record levels, and the Institute is drawing students from all around the world. This spring, the Graduate School will move to a dynamic new facility on VAI’s campus that includes dedicated classroom and study spaces, social areas, faculty and staff offices, and more. Virtual celebrations of new students and recent graduates In a typical year, the Graduate School celebrates its convocation and commencement ceremonies in the Institute’s Tomatis Auditorium. This year, to accommodate distancing guidelines related to the pandemic, the pomp and circumstance were instead celebrated virtually. Seven new students joined the Graduate School, while five students completed their degrees. • New students: Elshaimaa Ali (Alexandria, Egypt), Lauren Duimstra (Holland, Michigan), Ellen Griggs (Kalamazoo, Michigan), Lauren Harmon (Caldwell, Idaho), Vanessa Howland (Aptos, California), Mitch McDonald (Greenville, Michigan) and Andrea Parham (Portage, Michigan) • 2020 graduates: Dr. Lindsey Cunningham (Boulder, Colorado), Dr. Minge Du (Shandong Province, China), Dr. Guillermo Flores (Holland, Michigan), Dr. Jamie Grit (Byron Center, Michigan) and Dr. Nicole Vander Schaaf (Three Rivers, Michigan) Graduate School student earns prestigious award In September, Graduate School student Maggie Chassé earned a prestigious early-career award from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. This marks the second consecutive year that a VAI Graduate School student has received the Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award, also known as the F99/K00. Fewer than 24 of these awards are distributed each year. The award provides up to two years of financial support for Ph.D. candidates to complete their dissertation research, and up to four years of support for postdoctoral training. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 9

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