Van Andel Institute Cuts Ribbon on $178 Million Expansion
News Dec 09, 2009
On December 8, Van Andel Institute (VAI) cuts the ribbon on its eight-story, $178 million, 240,000 square foot Phase II expansion. The expanded facility creates economic and scientific opportunity both for VAI and West Michigan’s burgeoning life sciences sector and adds to the more than $1 billion investment in infrastructure already in place along Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile.
When operating at capacity, the expansion will support a $125 million annual research operation that expands the number of laboratories from the current 18 to more than 50, and provides the capacity for 550 additional jobs.
Phase II nearly triples current laboratory space and promises to increase the Institute’s capacity to impact human health through an expansion of its current basic and translational cancer research through an endowed chair and the new $4.2 million Jay Van Andel Parkinson Research Laboratory.
This increased capacity is enhanced by a number of key partnerships including an alliance and affiliation agreement with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, announced earlier this year, and expanded research opportunities provided by the new regional medical school, the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Human Medicine, which opens in 2010 on an adjacent site.
“The buildings that rise along Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile stand as a testament to our community’s ability to unite and work together,” said Chairman and CEO David Van Andel. “Now is the time to harness that ability to another challenge: to fill those buildings with the most capable individuals who will enable West Michigan to take its place as a leader among emerging life sciences sectors.”
“At Van Andel Institute, our goal is ambitious but clear. By recruiting the very best minds and the most motivated scientists to this facility, and working unceasingly, we hope to spare this and future generations the ravages of debilitating disease, and to end the pain and suffering that too often touches our lives,” added Van Andel.
"The research and recruitment ability the Phase II expansion provides will have a dramatic impact toward understanding disease and improving patient care," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, VARI President and Research Director. "Our increased research capacity coupled with our local, national, and international collaborations in basic, translational, and clinical research greatly increases the likelihood of discovering new ways to treat patients."
The new facility also reflects VAI’s dual mission of biomedical research carried out by Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and science education undertaken by Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI). Phase II labs will be utilized by students of VAI Graduate School, a graduate program designed to prepare Ph.D. scholars in cell and molecular genetics relevant to human disease, which matriculated its first students in 2007.
Laboratory space will also be utilized by faculty of the MSU College of Human Medicine, which will include five research clusters: cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and neurobiology. The presence of the College of Human Medicine encourages collaboration with VARI researchers and provides a large boost to the region’s development as a center of biomedical research and technology.
University of Wisconsin–Madison Professor of Chemistry Shannon Stahl has received the Steenbock Professorship in Chemical Sciences. In addition to advancing the fundamental science in this area, Stahl has been involved in numerous industrial collaborations that have led to practical applications, including target applications relevant to pharmaceutical synthesis.READ MORE