How Van Andel Institute is responding to COVID-19

Van Andel Institute is actively monitoring local, state, national and global events. The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented in modern times, and the issues before us are complex. Above all, we are committed to the health and safety of the Institute’s donors, friends and employees.

We have received questions from community members in recent days about what the Institute is doing to address the pandemic. Although the Institute is not currently conducting research into infectious diseases like COVID-19, there are areas where we may be able to contribute.

Is VAI doing any research on COVID-19?

VAI is not currently researching the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 or the disease caused by it, COVID-19. Because our focus lies in basic research and diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s, the Institute does not currently have the appropriate facilities to research infectious diseases. We are closely monitoring the progress being made by other organizations that are actively researching COVID-19 to identify areas where we might be able to support their efforts.

Why isn’t VAI developing or running tests?

Development and production of tests for the novel coronavirus are underway at university medical centers and other organizations across the U.S. Larger institutions are better equipped to handle the volume of work required to develop and produce these tests, and to ensure each test meets the same criteria for detection.

Importantly, developing and producing tests for the novel coronavirus requires specific materials that are widely used in science. It is crucial that we preserve access to these critical resources at a time when the organizations conducting COVID-19 research need them most.

Will VAI donate supplies/reagents to make tests?

VAI is aware of requests for supplies and assistance. We are coordinating with our local partners to provide support where we can.

Is VAI still doing research during the outbreak?

VAI is closely monitoring the situation and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state recommendations and guidelines, including the implementation of social distancing, enhanced sanitation procedures and cancellation of events. The Institute has instructed employees to work from home, the vast majority of whom are doing so. As such, our laboratories are operating with limited staff.

Are VAI’s K12 student and teacher programs still happening?

All Van Andel Institute for Education student and teacher programs are on hiatus amid the temporary statewide closure of K–12 schools. VAI will resume student and teacher programming — including field trips, afterschool cohort, Science on Saturday, professional development services and the Science on the Grand conference —  at a future date, in accordance with guidance from local and state authorities.

In the meantime, VAI is curating and continually updating a list of free resources that can be used at home to keep students’ curiosity, creativity and critical thinking alive. VAI also has a variety of online resources for teachers available at

I registered to attend a VAI event. Will it be canceled?

The health and safety of our community, our guests and our employees are paramount. The Institute is following federal and state guidelines with regard to large gatherings.

The following events are canceled:

  • Van Andel Institute Purple Community Leadership Lunch and Learn
  • Grand Rapids Griffins Purple Game
  • JBoardNetworking and Wine Event
  • VAI Purple Community 5K Pre-Race Party
  • Consumers Credit Union Purple Community 5K
  • VAI Purple Community Marathon Team Kick-off
  • Public Lecture Series: A Focus on Parkinson’s Disease

We are seeking alternative dates for some events. We will provide additional updates on event cancelations and postponements as soon as possible. If you registered for an event, we will contact you via email.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Kent County Health Department 

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 

Spectrum Health 

Michigan Medicine: University of Michigan