11 months ago

25th Anniversary Highlights of Hope

  • Text
  • Donor publication
  • Vai
  • Highlights of hope
  • Spring summer
  • 25th anniversary
  • Medical mile
  • Grand rapids
  • Van andel institute
  • Vaiorg
  • Epigenetics
  • Michigan
  • Scientific
  • Scientists
This is the 25th anniversary edition of Highlights of Hope, published in Fall 2021.

2009 VAI hosts first

2009 VAI hosts first Origins of Cancer symposium The event brings together students, scientists and medical professionals to discuss the latest breakthroughs in cancer research. 2009 Dr. Jeffrey Trent named the second president and director of Van Andel Institute for Research 2009 Dr. Steven J. Triezenberg appointed Director of Education VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS 2009 Van Andel Institute establishes Purple Community, a grassroots community awareness and fundraising program Community support is crucial to Van Andel Institute’s mission, and volunteers are a key part of our presence in Grand Rapids and the greater West Michigan area. In the late 2000s, as volunteer numbers and events grew, VAI worked to focus the efforts of its growing volunteer base and externally hosted events. The answer was Van Andel Institute Purple Community. First launched as Community for a Cure, this program took on its current name in the early 2010s as a tribute to VAI Co-Founder Betty Van Andel, whose favorite color was purple. It is also a nod to the ubiquitous purple ribbon often used to represent all cancers. VAI Purple Community event hosts dedicate their events and funds to VAI in support of our groundbreaking research and education initiatives. Volunteers offer their assistance in a multitude of ways: volunteering at the Institute’s signature events, bringing new fundraising ideas to the table, organizing event materials at the Institute, and more. Since its inception, VAI Purple Community has hosted and supported 1,211 events and raised nearly .6 million. Many are still cherished annual events, including the Bee Brave 5K, the Grand Rapids Griffins Purple Community Game, the Duncan Lake Middle School Cancer Walk, a variety of memorial golf outings, and many more. 2010 David and Carol Van Andel rededicate newly renovated Crescent Park, which overlooks downtown Grand Rapids from an eastern bluff in the heart of the city’s Medical Mile Through nonprofit organization Friends of Crescent Park, the park was renovated and transformed into a quiet green space that celebrates survivors of cancer and other diseases who have found hope in the medical and research facilities that surround the park. The best part? All funds raised through VAI Purple Community events go directly toward research and education efforts at VAI — right where they’ll make the biggest impact. We are immensely grateful for the thousands of people in our community who have made a difference in our mission through their participation in VAI Purple Community. (STARTING AT TOP LEFT) DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL (CENTER) HELP KICK OFF THE HOPE COLLEGE PURPLE COMMUNITY SOCCER GAME, 2009; DAVID & CAROL VAN ANDEL AT CRESCENT PARK MEMORIAL FOR FOUNDERS JAY & BETTY VAN ANDEL, 2010 30 2009 – 2010

2011 VAI forms a partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in an effort to recruit and train the next generation of researchers in the biomedical sciences 2012 Dr. Patrik Brundin joins VAI, launches Parkinson’s research efforts Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease. In the years since, Brundin has recruited an outstanding team of scientists to VAI, including experts in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, psychiatric disorders and rare types of dementia. Their vast contributions are redefining what we know about these diseases and revealing new opportunities to develop therapies that slow or stop disease progression — something current treatments cannot do. 2011 High School Journal Club taps into inquiry-based learning Inquiry-based learning is a powerful approach to education in which students engage in hands-on problem-solving by proposing theories and testing them. With the launch of High School Journal Club in 2011, Van Andel Institute for Education made its first significant foray into this interactive style of instruction. High School Journal Club brings together students and teachers with VAI’s world-class scientists to engage in scientific discourse. The program emulates the ways in which scientists conduct their daily work: identifying a problem, hypothesizing about potential solutions, critically evaluating and testing evidence, and collaborating from start to finish. Students further hone their skills by reviewing current research from scientific journals. Today, the Institute also harnesses the power of inquirybased learning across its suite of student and teacher programs. The result is students who learn to think and act like scientists in the classroom, helping curiosity and creativity thrive and inspiring the next generation of scientific leaders to tackle the problems of tomorrow. (STARTING AT TOP LEFT) STUDENTS IN HIGH SCHOOL JOURNAL CLUB, 2011; DR. PATRIK BRUNDIN & DAVID VAN ANDEL, 2012 When Parkinson’s disease expert and pioneering neuroscientist Dr. Patrik Brundin joined VAI in 2012, it was a realization of Founder Jay Van Andel’s vision: to bring breakthrough Parkinson’s research to Grand Rapids. Brundin had been recruited by VAI Chairman and CEO David Van Andel the year earlier. During their first conversations, the two established the foundations for a bright future and discovered a shared driving inspiration — finding a cure for a disease that had affected both of their fathers. Brundin hit the ground running upon his arrival at VAI, quickly establishing our neurodegenerative research group as well as the Institute’s flagship Parkinson’s symposium, As part of VAI’s commitment to improving human health, Brundin also helms the governing committee for one of VAI’s largest collaborations, the Cure Parkinson’s– Van Andel Institute International Linked Clinical Trials program. Since its inception in 2012, this global effort has launched 28 clinical trials into medications with the potential to impede disease progression. In 2020, Brundin became VAI’s deputy chief scientific officer and director of its newly formed Parkinson’s Disease Center. This new center serves as a hub for translating groundbreaking discoveries made in VAI’s labs into clinical trials. Together, VAI’s powerhouse combination of lab research and clinical translation provide boundless hope that new, more effective treatments are not far off. In the time since Jay Van Andel articulated his vision for VAI, our understanding of Parkinson’s has radically transformed. We now know that the disease starts years, or even decades, before the appearance of movement related symptoms. We also know that it may have roots throughout the body, including in the gut and immune system. These discoveries have propelled us closer than ever to life-changing treatments — ones that could give people more years with fewer symptoms and a drastically improved quality of life. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS 2011 – 2012 31

Publications by Year