Van Andel Institute Graduate School a Scientist of Tomorrow in the Making 19 When Eric Nollet attended the annual West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference at Van Andel Institute, he was delighted to find a number of college students who shared his recently discovered passion for medical research. He listened to presentations and discussed findings with a number of peers throughout the day, but for Nollet, the most important presentation didn’t come until the end of the conference. It was a presentation that would fundamentally change the course of Nollet’s life. “ It was really inspiring to see someone who was doing basic research suddenly translate that into medicine.”–Eric Nollet GIVE TODAY AT VAI.ORG/GIVE Dr. Nick Duesbery, Associate Professor, Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, Head, Laboratory of Cancer and Developmental Cell Biology, spoke about using basic research to develop and test a type of protein-based drug that could kill blood vessels in a specific type of tumor. Although Duesbery did not think his presentation would alter someone’s life path, what he said that day had a profound impact on Nollet’s future. “It was really inspiring to see someone who was doing basic research suddenly translate that to medicine,” said Nollet. “This presentation helped me realize how important basic research really was to discovering new types of treatments or therapies.” Nollet was overjoyed in 2010 when he was accepted into the exclusive Van Andel Institute Graduate School. “I loved the small class size,” says Nollet. “It’s more hands-on, and the lessons are driven by what you need to know.” Van Andel Institute Graduate School teaches students how to conduct themselves in research laboratories with a focus on discussion and hands-on training led by world-renowned researchers in classes containing a maximum of four students. When students aren’t studying, they can be found in the research labs working alongside their mentors and peers. Nollet has spent his time working in the lab run by Dr. Cindy Miranti, Associate Professor, Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, Head, Laboratory of Integrin Signaling and Tumorigenesis, for nearly four years, working on a single project revolving around prostate cancer that is resistant to standard treatment. “I’m more of a critical thinker now because of the way classes are conducted, and we are held accountable for our work just like the researchers are. Although I look forward to continuing my career, it will be difficult to leave. I like it here,” said Nollet, reflecting on the past three years. Partnerships for the Future Van Andel Institute Graduate School believes in the power of partnerships, which is why the school works with a number of universities to host an annual research conference for undergraduate students. “A critical mission for Van Andel Institute is to help develop the scientists of the future,” said Dr. Steven Triezenberg, Director of Van Andel Education Institute, and President and Dean of Van Andel Institute Graduate School. “We want to encourage students of all ages to pursue fulfilling science careers.” When you support Van Andel Institute Graduate School, you provide students an invaluable learning opportunity. Your gift covers travel grants, professional development and fellowships that facilitate the transition from graduate student to professional scientist. You can ensure students receive the necessary training to become scientific leaders of tomorrow by giving at vai.org/give.
“ A critical mission for Van Andel Institute is to help develop the scientists of the future.” –Dr. Steven Triezenberg Milestones Accredited by North Central Association’s Higher Learning Commission 1:1 student-faculty ratio 22 22 graduate students 44 graduates to date You make a difference in the future of scientific research when you support the students attending Van Andel Institute Graduate School. Graduate School Eric Nollet and Dr. Cindy Miranti van andel education institute 20