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2020 Annual Report

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This is the 2020 Annual Report for Van Andel Institute.

Southside Hockey Fights

Southside Hockey Fights Cancer brings hope to a difficult year Looking back after such a challenging year, the annual Southside Hockey Fights Cancer weekend was a true spot of brightness. Walking into Southside Arena on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, it was impossible to miss all the purple decor and the air of excitement and hope. By the end of the weekend, the event raised more than ,000 in support of cancer research at VAI. And since the event’s creation in 2016, more than 3,000 has been raised — an incredible show of support from Southside and the Grand Rapids community. Hundreds of families and players turn out each year to support VAI during this incredible three-day weekend: Children play games and win prizes at the Purple Community table, and the players’ families don every shade of purple imaginable. Teams from across Michigan come to play against Fox Motors Hockey, whose players each sport a unique jersey featuring the name of a loved one who has experienced a cancer diagnosis. The biggest event of the weekend is the All-Star Game, during which Southside chooses one special person to participate in the ceremonial puck drop. For the past two years, Eric Langdon, a loving husband and father who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, has been featured as the puck drop honoree. Southside Hockey Fights Cancer gives the Grand Rapids community a chance to show support for loved ones who have faced cancer, and to have an impactful role in the groundbreaking research into diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s that happens every day at VAI. Thanks to their incredible fundraising efforts on behalf of VAI, Southside was inducted into the Institute’s Legacy Society in 2018 — an honor bestowed on individuals, organizations and businesses that have given more than 0,000 cumulatively to VAI. Hockey Fights Cancer weekend at Southside holds a special place in Eric’s heart, too: It serves as a reminder that there are more people cheering him on — in life and on the ice — than he could have ever imagined. To learn more about Southside Hockey Fights Cancer and other VAI events, visit PLAYERS HONOR LOVED ONES BATTLING CANCER (LEFT); ERIC LANGDON DROPS CEREMONIAL PUCK AT THE 2020 GAME (ABOVE) 44 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020

Scored Grant Program gives research an extra boost In 2020, West Michigan engineering firm Prein&Newhof marked 50 years in business. To celebrate, and to honor the firm’s co-founder Thomas Newhof and his wife Garretta, they established the Thomas & Garretta Newhof/Prein&Newhof Research Fund to support Van Andel Institute’s Scored Grant Award Program. Grants from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health are the main source of funding for scientific research in the U.S. Funding is limited each year, and the process for earning federal grants is highly rigorous and competitive. To earn such a grant, a scientist must show that they have enough data to support the idea they want to investigate. But conducting the research necessary to generate this foundational data can be hampered by a lack of funding. That’s where VAI’s Scored Grant Award Program comes in. It provides research funding to scientists whose federal grant applications scored very highly, but just below the funding threshold — giving scientists with promising projects the extra boost needed to conduct the additional research necessary to put forth a revised, successful application in the next round of grants. In 2020, four projects were supported by the program. Philanthropy highlights A year of changes brings about creative adaptations 2020 brought about relentless challenges in our communities, and Van Andel Institute was no exception. Even with such adversity surrounding us, VAI’s Purple Community events made a strong showing and found ways to adapt. • 38 student ambassadors joined VAI’s Student Ambassador Program, which went virtual in 2020. The group held a virtual silent auction in April 2021 as a culmination of the leadership and fundraising experience they gained through the program. • The annual Bee Brave 5K raised more than ,000 after overcoming obstacles created by the pandemic to host a fun, safe event in October. • The Student Leadership Conference went virtual for the Zoom era and is now available completely on-demand; when teachers want to schedule a time to virtually tour VAI, hear directly from Institute scientists and conduct fun experiments remotely, VAI is there to help. For information about these programs and others, visit VAI Marathon Team offers support start to finish Van Andel Institute’s Marathon Team gets people moving in support of our mission to improve health and enhance lives. Established in 2017 in conjunction with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the VAI team receives a limited number of free entries into the Chicago race and the TCS New York City Marathon each year. Members have access to training programs and a supportive group of fellow runners as they count down to race day. Since the team’s creation, 145 runners have participated and raised more than 8,000 — all of which directly benefits biomedical research and K–12 and graduate education programs at VAI. “I would not have been that active, in that manner, doing those things, if it wasn’t for the cause that I was doing it for,” said Ben Cook, a previous VAI Marathon Team member who ran in memory of his late friend Eric Westra and his battle against osteosarcoma. ”The infrastructure and the help and training VAI provided made it a much better experience.” Public Lecture Series thrives in virtual landscape Van Andel Institute held four virtual public lectures in 2020 and one public lecture in person prior to the outset of the pandemic. VAI experts shared with the community — in Grand Rapids and, thanks to the virtual platform, anywhere with internet — their knowledge on the latest breakthroughs and trends in biomedical research and science education. Topics included cancer research trends; Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia with Lewy bodies; metabolism and its effect on future generations; and a look at the experience of educating in a landscape changed by the pandemic. These presentations were given by Dr. Peter A. Jones, Dr. José Brás, Dr. Rita Guerreiro, Dr. Patrik Brundin, Dr. Darren Moore, Dr. Heidi Lempradl, Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik and Chief Education Officer Terra Tarango. For information on the 2021 Public Lecture Series, visit VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE ANNUAL REPORT 2020 | 45

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