Meet the graduate student: Vanessa Howland

Throughout the year, we highlight Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s doctoral students. This month, we’re featuring Vanessa Howland, a Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Darren Moore.

Vanessa is from Aptos, California. Prior to joining VAI Graduate School, she studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and worked in UCSC’s Smith Lab.

What is the focus of your thesis research at Van Andel Institute?

I study a genetic mutation that’s associated with familial Parkinson’s disease. We’re looking to understand how this mutation contributes to the development of the disease late in life, and what steps we can take to prevent that from happening.

Why did you choose Van Andel Institute Graduate School?

I chose Van Andel Institute Graduate School because I was impressed with the innovative, problem-based learning curriculum we have here, as well as the researchers’ dedication to translational biomedical science, and the access we have to the Core facilities and resources for our research.

What do you hope to achieve with your Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology?

Since there are currently no treatments that will slow or halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease, with my degree I’m ultimately hoping to contribute to the field of work that is pushing for that first curative treatment.