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.

Employee Experience

With employees from nearly 30 countries, there are plenty of opportunities to meet people from various cultural, educational and employment backgrounds. VAI fosters a diverse and collaborative environment. Ample natural light and open spaces foster dialogue and innovation.


Van Andel Institute offers a highly comprehensive and competitive compensation package.

Employee Perks

We take our mission seriously while appreciating the individuality of our employees and the importance of continued professional and personal growth. That’s why we offer a comprehensive range of employee perks.


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.

Living in Grand Rapids

Simply put, because it’s the best. But don’t take our word for it — US News and World Report named Grand Rapids #16 on its “150 Best Places to Live in the US” for its “healthy job market, affordable housing, and outdoor recreational activities” and Vogue Magazine listed Grand Rapids as one of the top places to buy a home in 2018.


VAI is home to more than 500 people from four generations and nearly 30 countries, which fosters a dynamic environment.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Generation X (1965-1981)
Millenials or Gen Y (1982-1994)
Gen Z, iGen or Centennials (after 1994)

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.


We Have You Covered.

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. Employees can choose between a pre-tax, minimal contribution plan option or a no cost contribution plan option. As a Priority Health plan member, you will have access to a variety of tools and resources that will help you make informed health care decisions that best serves the needs of your family. You may access Priority Health machine-readable files here.

Dental Plan

Our comprehensive dental plan pays up to $1,500 annually for each covered individual. We even offer orthodontic coverage up to a lifetime maximum of $1,500!

Vision Plan

Our VSP Vision Insurance is easy on the eyes and wallet! Coverage includes eye exams, lenses, frames, contacts and network discounts and is available for employees and their dependents.

Flex Spending Accounts

Extend the purchasing power of your health and dependent care expenses by enrolling in one or both of our pre-tax flexible spending accounts.

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. In addition, an employer discretionary contribution on top of the matching may be considered on an annual basis.

Continuing Education

In addition to our weekly Research-In-Progress meetings, lunch and learns and the VAI Seminar Series professional development opportunities are offered via workshops and training through Van Andel Institute’s Graduate School, professional or accredited associations, societies and on-site programming.

The Institute also supports and contributes to employees’ education, offering eligible full-time employees up to $5,250 per year for tuition reimbursement.

We also have an on-site library, which focuses on developing collections and services that support VAI research and education initiatives and enhance the learning environment for faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows and VAI graduate students.

Paid Holidays and Vacation

VAI provides 12 paid holidays that are recognized consistently each year. It is important to us that our employees get to spend these important times with their families and loved ones.

Vacation is awarded on the date of hire and thereafter, on the anniversary of date of hire. The amount of vacation depends on years of eligible service. Our program includes a one-year carryover provision, providing you additional flexibility in how you use your vacation.

Time for Family

We know that family comes first, and that when employees are unable to fulfill their family obligations, their work may suffer. Because of this, we work hard to ensure that all of our staff members have the time and flexibility they need to care for themselves and their families.

VAI offers six weeks of paid parental leave for new parents, as well as bereavement leave of up to 3 to 5 days of paid time off for the loss of family members.

PTO (paid time off) allows employees additional time off up to the equivalent of 7 days per calendar year. These days can be used to deal with personal illness or to care for an ill family member or emergencies. As well as everyday situations such as appointments and school events. There is also a variety of flexible scheduling options.

“I greatly appreciate Van Andel Institute for giving me the opportunity to spend quality time with my newborn son. Giving employees a parental leave package allows families the ability to support one another in this important time of growth and bonding.”Brian NixPhysical Security Specialist I

VAI and its employees both contribute to creating a culture that is friendly and accepting, where all staff members can thrive. By placing a value on not just improving our employees’ work, but on celebrating their achievements and encouraging them to develop a strong sense of camaraderie with each other, we can all thrive in a positive workplace environment.

“All of the people at the Institute have a common interest in VAI’s mission and research. This shared goal creates a very congenial atmosphere, and I love being able to get to know my coworkers and celebrate our accomplishments with them.”Gerry Coetzee, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Neurodegenerative Science
Collaborative Culture

One of the things that all our employees share is a strong passion for their work, and a commitment to working together towards the mission of the Institute. Our labs are all open yet connected to each other, contributing to the family-like bond as well as professional collaboration between our employees.

“When I was considering VAI, I looked carefully at the faculty who were already here, and was impressed by both the quality of their staff and their focus on biomedical science.” Huilin Li, Ph.D.Chair and Professor, Department of Structural Biology
Social Activities

Much of the strength of our workplace culture comes from the various opportunities our employees have to interact with and socialize with each other. From our weekly TGIF gatherings, to working together for the community through Toys for Tots, food banks, blood drives and Purple Community events.

The VAI community is also built up through participation in one of our many sponsored sports teams, including softball, soccer, running and volleyball. Even our location in downtown Grand Rapids makes it easy to enjoy an outing with coworkers and other Medical Mile colleagues.


We’re located in the heart of the city, but parking is easy! As a VAI employee you’ll receive access to a conveniently located parking garage.

Rewards & Recognition Program

Highlighting the hard work of all of our team members is one of the key components of our workplace culture. Employees who are recognized by their managers or peers for going above and beyond to help VAI reach its goals are eligible for various incentive programs, as well as recognition among their peers.

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

The Institute is committed to helping our workforce improve both their physical and mental health. After all, people are an organization’s greatest resource. Our employee assistance program 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

In addition to supporting our employee’s mental wellbeing, we offer a variety of opportunities for them to also maintain or improve their physical health. From our cafe, where a variety of breakfast and lunch options are prepared by our on-site chef, to our workout facility that can be used 24 hours a day, discounted gym memberships and sponsored sports teams, VAI makes it easy to make good choices for your physical wellness.

Lactation Rooms

VAI provides on-site lactation rooms that are private, quiet and easily accessible.

Short-term and Long-term Disability

Short and long-term disability (STD and LTD) 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

Coverage that helps protect you and certain family members from the high costs associated with an extended nursing home stay and home health care services. VAI pays for a base policy and employees can purchase additional coverage for themselves and their spouses.

Employee Perks

We take our mission seriously while appreciating the individuality of our employees and the importance of continued professional and personal growth. That’s why we offer a comprehensive range of employee perks, including:

  • Scientific seminars and symposia, which draw local, national and international colleagues
  • On-site library, librarian and access to Grand Valley State University’s library system
  • Weekly Research-in-Progress seminars presented by VAI labs
  • Quarterly All Hands meetings with updates from leadership
  • Computer remote access
  • Comprehensive postdoctoral career development

Why Grand Rapids?

Simply put, because it’s the best. But don’t take our word for it — US News and World Report named Grand Rapids #16 on its “150 Best Places to Live in the US” for its “healthy job market, affordable housing, and outdoor recreational activities” and Vogue Magazine listed Grand Rapids as one of the top places to buy a home in 2018. 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.

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Grand Rapids was named as the best city to raise a family by Forbes magazine, beating out other larger and better-known metro areas. The magazine cited the city’s excellent schools, easy commute and low cost of living as key reasons why Grand Rapids topped the list. Not only that, but Midwestern friendliness can be epitomized by the attitudes of those living in Grand Rapids.

Families make up a large part of the area’s population. In fact, almost a third of the households in Grand Rapids have children under the age of 18. Perhaps because of this, there is 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, thanks in part to its affordability and plethora of free or low cost entertainment options and sporting events, according to AARP.


Grand Rapids was named one of America’s 100 smartest cities by Forbes through a study released by Lumosity. 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. With unique schooling opportunities including the West Michigan Aviation Academy and CA Frost Environmental Academy, your children can explore their interests and pursue their dreams.

Higher education also is easily accessible through one of the 15 colleges and universities located in the metro area, including state universities, private colleges and a community college. Grand Valley State University, considered one of the most affordable colleges in Michigan, has a campus in downtown Grand Rapids, with its main campus only 20 minutes away. Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine — and its new research facility — is located near VAI on a section of Michigan Street commonly known as the “Medical Mile.”

A Diverse Community

With 54 languages spoke in the city and students from 55 different countries, Grand Rapids is a dynamic city filled with diverse people and points of view.

The Institute also supports and contributes to employees’ education, offering eligible full-time employees up to $5,250 per year for tuition reimbursement.

We also have an on-site library, which focuses on developing collections and services that support VAI research and education initiatives and enhance the learning environment for faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows and VAI graduate students.

Fantastic Food and Bountiful Brews

With a host of restaurants, cafes and bistros, there’s no shortage of unique food to try. Whether you’re looking for haute cuisine, or a burger bursting with local ingredients and flavor Grand Rapids has an option for every palate.

Grand Rapids wasn’t named Beer City USA for nothing. There are 60+ craft breweries within an hour of downtown Grand Rapids, and they have something for everyone, from bourbon-barrel-aged beers to hoppy IPAs. It’s not just the number either — several of the city’s brewpubs have been named to global best lists. The city was named one of the 10 best vacation cities for beer lovers by TheStreet.com.

Sports & Leisure

West Michigan is the perfect place for anyone interested in enjoying the outdoors. Between the beaches, parks and trails, there are options for everyone to explore or enjoy.

The city lies only 30 miles from the Gold Coast — a 300-mile stretch of Lake Michigan coastline dotted with wineries, farms and other unique day destinations. North on this coastline lives The Sleeping Bear Dunes, named “Good Morning America’s” Most Beautiful Place in America. Let’s not forget the beach itself, which is perfect for a relaxing afternoon or even catching some waves on the world’s fifth-largest lake.

Of course, you don’t have to make a trip to Lake Michigan to explore the outdoors. Millennium Park, one of the largest urban parks in the nation, has 1,400 acres to explore, including six miles of frontage to the Grand River. The park includes a beach and splash pad, as well as nearly 18 miles of trail to explore.

If you’re interested in being more active, there are a variety of award-winning golf courses and skiing options available to you, as well as the White Pine Trail, which stretches 93.5 from Cadillac in Northern Michigan to Comstock Park, just north of Grand Rapids.

West Michigan is also home to minor league baseball and hockey teams, hosts the largest 25K race in the country, and holds the #3 spot for fun and recreation by the Places Rated Almanac.

Creative culture

Grand Rapids is home to ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition, which draws in more than 500,000 visitors and transforms the city’s buildings and open spaces into a massive art gallery for 19 days each fall. During the rest of the year, there is a full host of other 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.

Travel at your Fingertips

Love to travel? Not only is Grand Rapids a destination in and of itself, but it also has one of the best airports in the world as the gateway to the rest of the globe. For 2013, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) was ranked among the top five airports of its size in the world by the Airports Council International (ACI). The decision was made based on passengers’ views on 34 indicators, such as security, customer service, cleanliness and concessions.

GRR offers more than 120 nonstop flights every day to 23 popular destinations, including Orlando, New York, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas. Using GRR instead of a big city airport means saving time, money and a few headaches.

Not interested in flying? Grand Rapids is only a few hours away from a variety of destinations via road or rail. Detroit and Traverse City are both a two-hour drive away, and Chicago takes just three hours, or you can ride Amtrak from its station in downtown Grand Rapids.

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.