There's A Sense Of Urgency To Make A Difference Today

April 10, 2009
Print
Text Size:
A A

On Feb.11, Van Andel Institute announced a groundbreaking alliance and affiliation agreement with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, and welcomed Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent, a renowned expert in the field of genomics, as president and research director.

The alliance improves both organizations by combining complementary expertise and promises a much-needed boost to the economies of Michigan and Arizona. But most importantly, it brings new hope to patients in desperate need of improved treatments.

I was delighted to hear Dr. Trent say something on his first day at the institute that precisely echoes our own sense of mission and reinforces why he is the perfect choice to lead the strategically aligned scientific efforts of the two organizations:

“The combined forces of Van Andel Institute and TGen will show the nation what big dreams and cutting-edge science can do for patients,” said Dr. Trent. “This alliance springs from a sense of urgency, from the need to look patients in the eye and tell them that we are making a difference today.”

Exactly. Both the alliance and the hiring of Dr. Trent spring from the same desire: a sense of urgency to make a difference today.

Van Andel Institute and TGen have many things in common: Both are relatively young medical research institutes, both have spurred the development of regional life science and biotech industries, and both have ambitious plans based on an impatience to bring desperately needed, improved treatments to patients.

Both organizations also have a thorough understanding that diagnosing, treating and curing disease in the 21st century depends both on understanding the genetic basis of disease and converting this information into new diagnostic tests and therapeutics for patients, a process known in the research community as translational research.

While Van Andel Institute has gained recognition through its focus on basic research into the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer and other diseases, TGen has made a name for itself through its emphasis on translating basic research into clinical applications.

Van Andel Institute and the West Michigan community are now aligned with one of the preeminent translational research organizations in the biomedical industry.

The alliance promises to provide the patients of West Michigan greater access to clinical research, drug trials and other efforts to promote personalized medicine while allowing VAI to jumpstart its translational capabilities and develop them to the fullest capacity.

Both Van Andel Institute and TGen will also benefit from each organization’s wide network of international research and clinical partnerships.

TGen currently offers nearly 30 active clinical trials for advanced and rare cancers through it's Clinical Research Service, a strategic alliance with Scottsdale Healthcare, one of the leading centers for Phase I oncology trials in the nation.

TGen has had a joint research agreement with the Mayo Clinic since 2003. That relationship was strengthened in early 2008 when it formalized a strategic alignment with Mayo’s National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center to further collaborations in cancer research.

In June 2008, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg selected TGen and three other U.S. research institutes to undertake a groundbreaking international partnership as part of the Luxembourg Health Sciences and Technology Plan to launch the small nation into the forefront of research and technology within the European Union.

Clearly Van Andel Institute’s affiliation with TGen will have not only an immediate impact on our community but also wider implications in the world of medical research and biotechnology.

Both Van Andel Institute and TGen are young, nimble and adaptable. Combining strength with strength will lead to greater efficiencies in scientific operations, enhancing the ability of both organizations to develop earlier diagnostics and smarter treatments, and ultimately expediting the process of getting discoveries from the lab to the patient.

The alliance also provides a boost to the development of the West Michigan life sciences corridor precisely when Michigan stands in desperate need of some positive economic news.

By wielding the impatience to make a difference today, Van Andel Institute and TGen have staked a bold claim: The two organizations stand at the forefront of redefining a borderless, collaborative, national and international scientific community that transcends traditional boundaries to bring a promise of hope for the future.

David Van Andel is chairman and CEO of Van Andel Institute.

Recent Articles by David Van Andel

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus