Your Life’s Work. Here. Now.

Van Andel Institute is home to hundreds of dedicated scientists, educators and support staff who are focused on one, unifying mission: to improve the health and enhance the lives of current and future generations. Learn more about VAI ➔

About VAI

Founded by the Van Andel family in 1996, VAI is now home to more than 500 scientists, educators and staff — each one of us deeply connected to the work we do and driven by an urgent desire to improve health and enhance lives.


VAI’s laboratories are organized into five departments — Epigenetics, Neurodegenerative Science, Metabolism and Nutritional Programming, Cell Biology and Structural Biology.


Postdocs are a crucial part of Van Andel Institute’s efforts to improve the health and enhance the lives of current and future generations. To this end, the Institute offers several internal fellowship opportunities.

Research Internships

The journey to a Ph.D. starts far earlier than graduate school. To help undergraduate students prepare for the next steps in their academic careers, Van Andel Institute Graduate School is pleased to offer several outstanding programs.


VAI's facilities as the heartbeat of the Institute, essential for fostering an environment of growth and innovation.

The Perks and Benefits that Matter Most

At Van Andel Institute, our employees are most valuable when not worrying about health and financial support throughout all facets of their life. Because of that, benefits are an important part of everyone’s wellbeing, as well as supporting the diverse and changing lives outside of work.

Medical Plans
Van Andel Institute offers the choice of two PPO health care plans with prescription coverage options through Priority Health.

Dental Plan
Our comprehensive dental plan pays up to $1,500 annually for each covered individual.

Vision Plan
Coverage includes eye exams, lenses, frames, contacts and network discounts.

Flexible Spending Accounts
Two types of pre-tax savings accounts
• Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Medical – used to pay for eligible medical, dental, vision expenses.
• Dependent Care Account (DCA) – used to pay for day care, babysitter, summer day camp for qualifying children under age 13.

401(k) Plan
VAI offers a comprehensive 401(k) plan on a pre-tax contribution or post-tax (Roth) bases. Employees may choose to make a contribution of up to 75% of their pay and VAI will match dollar for dollar up to 5% of eligible pay.

Continuing Education
VAI offers workshops and training through its Graduate School. The Institute also supports and contributes to employees’ education, offering eligible full-time employees up to $5,250 per year for tuition reimbursement.

Paid Holidays and Vacation
VAI provides 12 paid holidays, 7 days paid time off and a paid vacation package.

Time for Family
VAI offers 6 weeks of paid parental leave for new parents and bereavement leave of up to 3-5 days of paid time off.

Collaborative Culture
Our labs are all open yet connected to each other, contributing to the family-like bond as well as professional collaboration between our employees.

Social Activities
From our weekly TGIF gatherings to working together for the community through Toys for Tots, food banks, blood drives and Purple Community events.

As a VAI employee you’ll receive access to a conveniently located parking garage.

Rewards & Recognition Program
Eligible employees may also choose a “service award” given to them based on the number of years that they have worked for the Institute.

Employee Assistance Program
EAP offers short-term, solution-focused counseling for specific life events, as well as free monthly webinars for employees, graduate students and their families on topics ranging from stress, financial education to relationships.

Health and Wellness
VAI offers an on-site café, a 24-hour workout facility, discounted gym memberships, and sponsored sports teams.

Lactation Rooms
VAI provides on-site lactation rooms that are private, quiet and easily accessible. They include a refrigerator and sink and are stocked with paper towel and sanitation wipes.

Short-term and Long-term Disability
This coverage provides income protection should you become disabled due to a non-work related illness, maternity or injury.

Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
Employee basic life/AD&D Insurance provides core coverage for you and optional life and AD&D coverage may be purchased for you and your dependents.

Long-term Insurance
VAI pays for a base policy and employees can purchase additional coverage for themselves and their spouses.

Candidate Journey

Submit Application

As the applicant, you will complete the application and await a decision.

Phone Screening

Meet with VAI Human Resources on the phone to learn more.

First Interview

With hiring manager and future boss.

Second Interview

Meet the team.

Job Offer

You got the job!

Employee Experience

A diverse and collaborative environment

With employees from more than 30 countries, there are plenty of opportunities to meet people from various cultural, educational and employment backgrounds.

Employees at VAI
The Nature Index ranks VAI no. 27 in the Biological Sciences category
Percentage of people with a Ph.D.
peer-reviewed papers published in 2023

Our Values

We are an organization made strong through our shared values. These values are the heart of our culture and the essence of who we are when we are at our best.

  • 01

    Be Curious

    Curiosity is our super power. We learn at every opportunity. We thrive on the pursuit of discovery.

  • 02

    Take Risks

    We do things others won’t, in ways they can’t. We dare to think differently. We grow from our mistakes.

  • 03


    We share information and credit freely. We seek diverse perspectives We connect through hope for a better future.

  • 04

    Work with Urgency

    We run toward challenges. We love what we do. We own what we do.

  • 05

    Respect Everyone

    We matter to each other. We assume good intentions. We ask for help and offer help.

  • 06

    Do the Right Thing

    We choose mission over self-interest. We use our best judgment. We utilize our resources to maximize impact.


What People Are Saying

Hear directly from some of our employees about life at Van Andel Institute.

Why did you choose to join the Institute?

What do you like most about working here?

What makes you most excited about VAI's future?

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Not quite ready to make a move?

Stay connected when new jobs post.

Why Grand Rapids?

Simply put, it’s the best. But don’t take our word for it — CNN ranked Grand Rapids no. 8 on its list of America’s Best Towns to Visit in 2024, while U.S. News & World Report ranked city no. 14 on its 2024 list of best places to live for quality of life. Whether you’re in search of a beach, a craft brew, unique cuisine or the world’s biggest art competition, Grand Rapids and West Michigan have something for everyone.

For Your Family

Grand Rapids is very family friendly and there is no no shortage of activities and events for families and children to enjoy, including the Children’s Gardens at Frederik Meijer Gardens or the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. The city also is one of the best places to retire, according to AARP.

Learn More


West Michigan offers a variety of different K-12 schooling options, including some of the best public schools in the country, as well as leading private, parochial and charter schools. Michigan is home is several colleges and universities, including 8 research universities, 17 baccalaureate colleges, and 19 master's universities.

Learn More

Fantastic Food and Bountiful Brews

With a host of restaurants, cafes and bistros, there's no shortage of unique food to try. In fact, there are 60+ craft breweries within an hour of downtown Grand Rapids.

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Creative Culture

Home to ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition, Grand Rapids also has many cultural touchstones including the Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, and the Grand Rapids Ballet — Michigan’s only professional ballet company.

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Sports and Leisure

Living in Grand Rapids means you get to experience all four seasons. From skiing in the winter to summers on Lake Michigan. No matter where you live in the Greater Grand Rapids region, you’ll be close to it all.

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Travel at Your Fingertips

Love to travel? Michigan has several desirable weekend getaways, such as Mackinac Island. It also has one of the best airports in the world as the gateway to the rest of the globe. In 2023, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) was ranked number one by USA Today for best small airports that help you avoid stress and crowds.

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City of Grand Rapids Statistics


Total Population


Cost of Living in Grand Rapids


Trail State in the Nation

22 minutes

Average Commute Time


International Companies


Median Home Price

Medical Mile
Grand Rapids, MI
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Visa Options

Van Andel Institute welcomes passionate, talented scholars and students from all over the world to join our mission of improving the health and enhancing the lives of future generations.

VAI offers non-immigrant visa sponsorship for international students and scholars in the following VAI positions:

  • Employee
  • Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Visiting student or researcher
  • VAI Graduate School student

Your visa sponsorship category will depend on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to: VAI position, program objectives, program duration, funding source(s) and U.S. immigration history. Sponsored non-immigrant visa categories include: F-1 (Student), J-1 (Exchange Visitor), H-1B (Specialized Knowledge Worker) and TN (NAFTA Professional Worker).

Van Andel Institute’s Exchange Visitor Program provides opportunities to study, conduct collaborative research, and participate in scientific training opportunities at VAI and Van Andel Institute Graduate School. Our program seeks to promote the general interest of international educational and cultural exchange by offering educational, training, and research opportunities in the various fields of research conducted at VAI and VAI Graduate School.

VAI charges no fees to program participants. Exchange visitors are responsible for their own visa application costs. Estimated minimum costs of living in Grand Rapids. These are minimal estimates for essential living expenses (including only: food, health insurance, transportation, rent for a one or two bedroom apartment [as applicable] and minor incidental expenses). Additional personal funds may be required.

Salary is determined based on Ph.D. or equivalent receipt date and begins at $70,000. Based on faculty approval, salary increases may be provided annually on or near the anniversary of hire.

Exchange visitors must have an offer of invitation from a VAI laboratory or VAI Graduate School. In addition, you will be required to meet the following eligibility requirements prior to issuance of Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status):

  • English Language Proficiency – J-1 exchange visitors must possess sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in our program AND to function on a day-to-day basis in Grand Rapids. Proficiency will be assessed via official English language proficiency test score or Zoom/telephone interview.
  • Program Funding Exchange visitors will be required to show evidence of program funding in the amount of our estimated minimum Cost of Living for Grand Rapids. Evidence of funding may include VAI salary or stipend, non-VAI salary, scholarships or other sponsored funding. Personal funds will NOT be accepted for the primary J-1 visa holder, but are acceptable for J-2 dependents.
  • Educational Exchange or Research Collaboration Agreement (for visiting students and researchers only) Visiting students and researchers must be affiliated with an overseas (non-U.S.) institution, and Van Andel Institute must enter into an educational exchange agreement or research collaboration agreement with that institution before VAI will issue Form DS-2019. Please speak to your sponsoring VAI lab to determine if an agreement already exists or will need to be created.
  • U.S. Immigration History – You must not be otherwise barred from issuance of a Form DS-2019 (example: subject to repeat participation bars). Ineligibility is rare, but VAI will make a determination of eligibility before issuing Form DS-2019.

Important Regulations to Know

Per U.S. law, all J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors:

  • Must maintain health insurance coverage for the duration of their program, which meets certain minimum coverage requirements.

J-1 and J-2 Health Insurance Minimum Coverage Requirements

All J-1 visitors and their J-2 family members are required to have the following minimum health insurance coverage from program begin date to program end date:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his/her country in the amount of $50,000
  • Deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • Coinsurance not to exceed 25%
  • Backed by full faith and credit of a home country government or must meet minimum rating requirements established by the U.S. government (A.M Best rating of “A‐” or above; Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A‐I” or above; Standard and Poor’s Claims‐paying ability rating of “A‐” or above; OR Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above).

Where To Find Qualifying Insurance

Postdoctoral Fellows, Graduate School students, and their J-2 dependents will be eligible to enroll in VAI’s Priority Health Insurance Plan, which meets the J requirements.

Visiting researchers and students will be required to purchase a qualifying third-party plan and provide proof of coverage on their first day at VAI.

J-1 and J-2 Exchange Visitors may be subject to the following regulatory restrictions which can affect your future U.S. immigration options:

Any person who participates in an exchange visitor program in the U.S. lasting more than 6 months (and not in the Short Term Scholar category) is barred from beginning a new J-1 program in the Research Scholar or Professor categories for a period of 12 months from their program completion date. This applies to both J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors.

Any person who participates in an exchange visitor program in the U.S. in the Research Scholar or Professor category is barred from beginning a new J-1 program in the Research Scholar or Professor categories for a period of 24 months from their program completion date. This applies to both J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors.

Some exchange visitors will be subject to this requirement (see below for conditions). If subject, you and your J-2 family members will be ineligible to change non-immigrant status in the United States, receive a U.S. employment visa (H or L), receive a fiancé visa (K), or receive U.S. permanent residency until you have fulfilled one of the following requirements:

  • Obtain a waiver of 212(e) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, OR
  • Return to your home country and reside there for two years.

Exchange visitors will be subject to 212(e) if one of the following conditions is met:

  • Government funded exchange program: The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor’s nationality or last residence;
  • Graduate medical education or training: The exchange visitor entered the U.S. to receive graduate medical education or training;
  • Specialized knowledge or skill: The exchange visitor is a citizen or permanent resident of a country which has deemed their field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as indicated on the Exchange Visitor Skills List.