Each year, more than 10,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer, a figure that has slowly but steadily risen over the past several decades. Today, thanks to improved care, more kids are beating cancer than ever before. Still, more research is desperately needed to root out the causes of pediatric cancers, which differ greatly from adult cancers, and to leverage these findings into new, innovative treatments to help more kids lead longer, healthier lives.
Van Andel Institute (VAI) is honored to hold A Conversation about Pediatric Cancer hosted by Carol Van Andel, an educational and philanthropic event that will spotlight the exciting work underway in Grand Rapids to fight back against these devastating diseases. Guests will hear from the people on the front lines of these efforts, including Dr. Matt Steensma, who conducts research at the Institute and treats patients at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Jenna Gedminas, a
clinical pediatric hematology/oncology fellow at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and research fellow in the lab of Dr. Patrick Grohar at the Institute. Dr. James Fahner, Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, will give the keynote address.
11:30 AM –12 PM
Guest Arrival & Networking
12 –1 PM
Welcome Remarks by Maranda, WOTV4
Remarks by Carol Van Andel
Invocation, Lunch is served
Remarks by Dr. James Fahner, Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Remarks by Dr. Dr. Matt Steensma, Van Andel Institute
Remarks by Dr. Jenna Gedminas, Van Andel Institute
Q&A Session – Moderated by Maranda
Closing Remarks by Maranda
Corn bisque/cajun popcorn
Chilled poached chicken (entrée salad)
Root vegetables/frisée and upland cress/toasted pecans
Maple mustard vinaigrette
Pumpkin and vanilla bean layered cheesecake with pear-cardamom compote
Fresh baked rolls
Table-side coffee service
Dr. James Fahner
Dr. James Fahner is the founding and current Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and the Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics/Human Development at Michigan State University.
Dr. Fahner completed his undergraduate degree, M.D., pediatric residency, and pediatric hematology/oncology subspecialty fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Community and agency service includes the Board of Directors of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Spectrum Health Board Committee for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Past-Chairman of the Spectrum Health Medical Group Board of Directors, the Hospice of Michigan Foundation Board, the VanAndel Research Institute and Graduate School Boards of Trustees, State Medical Advisor for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan, and Past-President of the Board of Education for Forest Hills Public Schools. Previous board service also includes the Michigan Community Blood Centers Foundation and the West Michigan Ronald McDonald House. Dr. Fahner is a former Chairman of the Board of Hospice of Michigan, and serves on the Executive Board of the Cancer Research Consortium of West Michigan (CRCWM). Dr. Fahner is the recipient of the Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Maker Award, the Philip McCorkle Child Advocacy Award, the Hillman Award, the Crystal Rose Award, the 2010 William Montgomery Award as Pediatrician of the Year from the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Dave and Carol VanAndel Community Leadership Award. In the fall of 2011, Dr. Fahner was recognized with the naming of Hospice of Michigan’s Pediatric Hospice Program in his honor. In 2015, Dr. Fahner was asked to serve as the first Chairman of the new National Medical Advisory Council for Make-A-Wish America and in 2018, he was named the Health Care Hero in Administration by Crain’s Detroit Business.
Jim and his wife Gail, an active community and hospital volunteer and Past-President of the Blodgett-Butterworth Hospital Auxiliary, are the proud parents of two daughters: Jill, a Child Life Specialist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and Therese, a practicing veterinarian in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Dr. Jenna Gedminas
Dr. Jenna Gedminas is a physician-scientist who treats kids with cancer at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and conducts groundbreaking research into new therapies at Van Andel Research Institute.
Dr. Matt Steensma
Matt Steensma, M.D., studies the genetic and molecular factors that cause benign tumors to become cancers in order to find vulnerabilities that may be targeted for treatment. As a scientist at VARI and a practicing surgeon at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, he is committed to translating scientific discoveries into treatments that improve patients’ lives.