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25th Anniversary Highlights of Hope

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This is the 25th anniversary edition of Highlights of Hope, published in Fall 2021.

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25

VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS STUDENTS AT SAN JUAN DIEGO ACADEMY ENGAGING WITH BLUE APPLE PILOT PROGRAM 2020 Two new programs from Van Andel Institute for Education launch Flexible and customizable, Flex PD tailors professional development content to each school’s needs. As learning loss became a larger conversation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Flex PD evolved to help prepare teachers to successfully close instructional gaps in the coming school year. This model features immersive, in-person workshops, learning sessions hosted virtually or in person, and ongoing access to instructional coaches. Every plan focuses on building or district-level needs, and promotes tangible shifts in practice with the support needed to take on the school year successfully. Another innovation born from virtual learning environments, Better Together is a series of free, virtual networking events for school administrators. These events create the space and time for administrators to network with peers and learn how others are navigating challenges and changes in the educational space. STUDENTS IN THE NEW VAI GRADUATE SCHOOL BUILDING 2020–2021 Faculty, graduate student and postdoctoral fellow recruitment efforts grow Van Andel Institute has enjoyed tremendous growth in the years since our founding, but our mission has remained the same: to improve health and enhance lives for current and future generations. A large part of this work is accomplished by our world-renowned faculty — the scientific leaders of today — and in training students and postdoctoral fellows who will one day be independent scientists and continue to tackle the health problems of tomorrow. Our efforts took a significant leap forward in 2020 with successful campaigns to recruit new faculty members and graduate students to the Institute. This push resulted in the recruitment of six new faculty, the first of whom arrived at VAI in summer 2021. In August 2021, Van Andel Institute Graduate School welcomed a cohort of 14 students from eight countries — the result of a successful outreach campaign. The Institute also launched a multipronged effort to recruit postdoctoral fellows, including a Cancer Epigenetics Training Program 1 funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, and the VAI-funded Inspire Fellowship, which is designed to increase representation at VAI and in science by supporting postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented groups. 1 The Cancer Epigenetics Training program is supported by a National Cancer Institute T32 training grant (no. T32CA251066). The content is solely the responsibility of VAI and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. 44 2020 – 2021

2021 VAI launches new initiatives in neurodegenerative diseases and metabolism Catalyzing collaboration and innovation is at the core of VAI’s mission. That’s why, in 2021, the Institute launched two new initiatives designed to power breakthroughs in West Michigan: the West Michigan Neurodegenerative Diseases (MiND) Program and the Metabolism and Nutritional Programming in Disease (MeNu) Program. These endeavors will bring together VAI’s in-house experts in neurodegeneration and metabolism with the goal of accelerating progress in these critical areas. The MiND program will be home to collaborative sample collection and genetic sequencing efforts. The data garnered from these efforts will be used to seek out genetic changes that may play roles in diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The MeNu program seeks to rapidly expand VAI’s metabolism research capabilities, giving our scientists the tools they need to investigate metabolism in health and disease. Both MiND and MeNu will provide dedicated research awards to help eligible postdoctoral fellows transition from being trainees to independent positions, and will support the acquisition of powerful new technologies to drive research and propel discovery. They also include special funding mechanisms to support interdisciplinary research projects designed to garner the initial data required to earn larger federal awards. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE | 25 YEARS Together, these cross-cutting programs will spur innovation and collaboration across VAI, enhancing discovery and transforming human health. 2021 45

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