Training top-tier biomedical research talent in translational research remains a cornerstone of Van Andel Institute’s overarching strategy. In order to encourage the development of individuals who understand both the research and clinical worlds at the beginning of their careers, the Institute has developed a physician–scientist training program that emphasizes an innovative, interdisciplinary approach.
Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s (VAIGS) physician–scientist programs train individuals who are both clinical physicians and scientific research professionals with biomedical research skills. Through this program, the Institute supports individuals who can navigate between the laboratory and the clinic and accelerate the Institute’s ability to develop new therapeutic strategies for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
DJ Scholten is the first student to graduate with a Ph.D. from VAIGS while also pursuing an M.D. at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (MSU-CHM). He will now return to MSU to complete his last two years of medical school.
Scholten was enthusiastic about the program’s translational emphasis. “Because I was interested in medicine, I liked how a lot of the work being done could readily impact treatment options and decisions for patient management,” he explained.
Making a Commitment to the Community
With the generous support of the Bea Aldrink Idema Foundation, the VAIGS Physician–Scientist Training Fellowships provide the financial support for students in this training that connects the missions of multiple entities in the West Michigan biomedical community, including leading hospitals and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.
I am thankful for organizations like Van Andel Institute that have chosen to make a commitment to this community by training and developing the careers of great researchers and doctors. – Bea Idema
Bea Idema, wife of William Idema whose family cofounded Steelcase, formed the family foundation with the purpose of supporting education, health and welfare in the community. Idema sees VAIGS as an opportunity to support education with a specific purpose.
“I am thankful for organizations like Van Andel Institute that have chosen to make a commitment to this community by training and developing the careers of great researchers and doctors,” Idema said.
The long-term impact of programs like the Physician-Scientist Training Fellowships will further enhance Van Andel Institute’s reputation as a hub for cutting-edge medical research and treatment.