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2021 Spring/Summer Highlights of Hope

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The 2021 Spring/Summer edition of Van Andel Institute's Highlights of Hope donor publication.


PHILANTHROPY Scored Grant Program helps turn inspiration into action A spark of inspiration can strike at any moment. Picture a scientist working hard at the bench, focusing intensely on an exciting new idea. She buckles down to investigate her newfound idea, and the data and evidence accumulate. Ready to take her research to the next level, she applies for a grant, but falls just below the threshold to receive funding. Now what? 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 a federal grant, scientists 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 — quite a catch-22. That’s where Van Andel Institute’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. This approach gives 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. Philanthropic support of this program is an important springboard for future research. Projects supported in 2020 by VAI’s Scored Grant Award Program • Dr. Peter Laird: Developing a better cellular clock • Dr. Matt Steensma: Connecting the genetic dots between a rare disease and breast cancer • Dr. Xiaobing Shi: Finding a new target for a tough-to-treat type of lung cancer • Dr. Hong Wen: Developing new treatments for pediatric blood cancer Dr. Laird was awarded a five-year, million award from the National Institute on Aging to support his research — a 30-fold return on investment from the 0,000 that he received from the Scored Grant Award Program. 1 Dr. Wen was awarded a four-year, 8,173 award from the National Cancer Institute to support her research. 2 Drs. Steensma and Shi also are seeking federal funding. 1 This work is supported by Van Andel Institute and the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under award no. R01AG066764 (Laird). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the granting organization. 2 This work is supported by Van Andel Institute and the National Cancer Institute of 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, they established the Thomas & Garretta Newhof/Prein&Newhof Research Fund to support VAI’s Scored Grant Award Program. The fund also honors Tom’s wife Garretta for her unwavering commitment to the company’s success. Prein&Newhof also invited 150 employees to support the fund, and Tom and Garretta showed their appreciation with their own generous gift. The combined gifts from Prein&Newhof and matching dollars from VAI funded the Institute’s Scored Grant Award Program in 2020. the National Institutes of Health under award no. R01CA255506 (Wen). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the granting organization. 28 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

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