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2007 Scientific Report

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VARI | 2007 Director’s Introduction 1

Van Andel Research Institute | Scientific Report George F. Vande Woude Director’s Introduction 2 Now in our seventh year at a site in downtown Grand Rapids recently dubbed Medical Mile, the Van Andel Institute is embarking on a new phase in its growth as a leading center for biomedical research. An event for which we have been patiently waiting took place on April 12, 2007, when groundbreaking ceremonies officially marked the beginning of construction for the Phase II expansion of the Van Andel Institute. Undeterred by April snow showers, Dave Van Andel got things rolling by maneuvering a GPS-directed John Deere bulldozer to break ground, to the cheers of employees and honored guests who watched from indoors via live video. For the next two years, we will see our Phase II laboratory emerge, fulfilling the plans to increase our research capacity to accommodate 400 new scientists. You can check out the construction at In addition to our own project, we are witnessing all around us phenomenal growth in the Medical Mile community. Already established south of us is the St. Mary’s Lacks Cancer Center. To our east and north, construction is underway for Spectrum Health’s new Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Just adjacent to our campus to the west and north, the Secchia Center that is being built will be headquarters to the College of Human of Medicine (CHM) of Michigan State University (MSU). Second-year CHM students will begin study in Grand Rapids in 2008, while a first-year class of 100 students is scheduled to begin in 2010, leading to a full enrollment of about 400 students. It is hard to match all this excitement, but we have many accomplishments to our credit, and no doubt this has been a key factor stimulating Medical Mile and the growth of the biomedical enterprise. We are all very proud of what is happening. Personnel It is my pleasure to report that Jim Resau has been promoted to the rank of Distinguished Scientific Investigator. Jim has provided the impetus in developing VARI’s imaging core, and his efforts have led to novel imaging approaches and to many successful collaborations of benefit to our Institute. Jim has also contributed a strong interest and much help with the Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) educational programs, including the graduate school, the Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program, and other student programs of VAEI. He serves as VARI’s Deputy Director for Special Programs and Director of the Quantitative Sciences Division. Congratulations also to Eric Xu on his promotion to Distinguished Scientific Investigator. Eric has made significant scientific contributions to defining the structures of nuclear receptor proteins, including the peroxisome proliferator–activated receptors (PPARs) and the “orphan” nuclear receptors for which the ligand and function are unknown. The importance and excellence of his work is reflected in his success with NIH grants.

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