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20th Anniversary Highlights of Hope

  • Text
  • Hope
  • Institute
  • Scientific
  • Highlights
  • Epigenetics
  • Scientists
  • Michigan

OUR HISTORY Building the

OUR HISTORY Building the Dream—One Step at a Time Van Andel Institute is located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the south end of Belknap Hill, a historic neighborhood and wellknown landmark that has long attracted people to its magnificent views of the Grand River, its breathtaking panoramas and its beautiful sunsets. Amway Co-Founder Jay Van Andel’s dream was to transform this area in the city’s center into a hub for scientific discovery and human health. His vision was to build an independent institute that would embrace novel approaches to biomedical research and science education, and develop a network of collaborations with organizations stretching from West Michigan to every corner of the world. The Van Andel family believed the Institute could serve as a guiding light of hope and bring about scientific discoveries that would benefit future generations. Defining the Mission The initial stages of the Institute’s formation were organized by a group of talented advisors that included Dr. Luis Tomatis, an esteemed Grand Rapids-based cardiothoracic surgeon who shared the Van Andel family’s passion for human health and community enrichment. He helped recruit top-tier scientific talent to form the Institute’s first Board of Scientific Advisors and appoint Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Brown as the board’s first chairman. Phase I—Breaking Ground and Creating a Legacy Van Andel Institute could have been built anywhere in the world, and there were many who suggested other locations closer to traditional centers of research or major universities, but Jay Van Andel chose Grand Rapids because it was his community, the place that he called home. It was where his family had roots, and it was the place where Jay and his wife, Betty, raised their children. They thought it was important to give back to the community that had given them a life of hope and happiness. Van Andel felt strongly that the Institute should be built in the heart of Grand Rapids so that it could serve as a beacon of innovation and a catalyst for economic growth and revitalization for the city on the Grand River. “When my father first had the idea to create an independent biomedical research facility in his hometown, there were many people who thought it was not feasible or doable in a city without a built-in support system for this kind of work,” Van Andel Institute Chairman and CEO David Van Andel said. “I really believe it’s a testament to the founders of this Institute that they were able to see beyond the ordinary and build something that transforms the dynamic of a city and inspires greatness in others.” In the latter half of the 20 th century, Grand Rapids was a town shaken by a changing post-industrial economy, and it was in many ways a city struggling for a lifeline. Although it was once a champion of industrial manufacturing and commerce, in 1996 the city was in need of dreamers, bold ideas and people who were not afraid to build a new way forward. David Van Andel appointed architect James P. Gray to serve as project manager for the construction of the Institute and, together with a team of advisors, Van Andel and Gray scoured over proposals from architectural design firms in the The Institute’s mission was refined with input from numerous scientific experts from a wide variety of research centers in the United States. Their insight helped create an institute encompassing innovative biomedical research and science education, and laid the groundwork for scientific collaborations that would have a lasting impact on human health. JAY VAN ANDEL BETTY VAN ANDEL 4 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea and Japan. In their search, New York-based, Uruguayan architect Raphael Viñoly’s work stood above the rest, and his initial concept for the Institute captured the imagination of the Van Andels and their team of advisors. “There are few places on this planet that you could do what we’ve done here, and it happened because of the community spirit...This community warmly welcomed this initiative, even if they were surprised by the scope of the vision. Twenty years ago, the phrase ‘life sciences corridor’ was a completely new concept in this city, but now it’s one of the most vital sources of economic growth and development for the region.” – David Van Andel Viñoly’s impressive portfolio of awardwinning designs includes the Tokyo International Forum and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. In his concept, Viñoly used Grand Rapids’ topography and the Grand River as inspiration to design an iconic building that is striking in its modernity and respectful of its surroundings. Viñoly’s design for the Institute did not look like any other structure in West Michigan, and its bold forms and dramatic, sculptural lines signified that a new day had come for the city of Grand Rapids. CONTINUED ON PG 6 > ARCHITECT RAPHAEL VIÑOLY UNVEILING THE MODEL OF VAI TO DAVID VAN ANDEL AND DR. LUIS TOMATIS AT THE AMWAY GRAND PLAZA HOTEL IN 1997. All five members of the first Van Andel Research Institute Board of Scientific Advisors were esteemed scientists who were or became Nobel Laureates. They included: Michael Brown, M.D. – Chairman Director, Jonsson Center of Molecular Genetics The University of Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 1985 Richard Axel, M.D. Professor of Neurosciences Columbia University Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 2004 Joseph Goldstein, M.D. Chairman, Department of Molecular Genetics The University of Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 1985 Daniel Nathans, M.D. Professor, Molecular Biology and Genetics Johns Hopkins University Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 1978 Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D. Professor of Biology Massachussetts Institute of Technology Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 1993 VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 5

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