Future Faculty

Van Andel Institute began with a vision: to improve human health.

Founded by the Van Andel family in 1996 in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Institute is now home to more than 400 scientists, educators and support staff — each one deeply connected to the work we do and driven by an urgent desire to make a difference.

VAI scientists collaborate at the forefront of fundamental and translational science in pursuit of breakthrough treatment strategies for cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases. With a growing reputation as a worldwide hub for exceptional basic research, we are known for our catalytic, collaborative approach that accelerates the connection between discovery and impact. Operating without walls, we engage the world’s brightest minds through partnerships with academia, clinical, industry and philanthropic collaborators to catalyze collaboration and produce results.

Join our team

We are hiring! Van Andel Institute is embarking on a major recruitment initiative — we invite applications for six faculty positions at the level of assistant professor to join the 33 faculty in our departments of Epigenetics, Neurodegenerative Science, Metabolism and Nutritional Programming, Structural Biology and Cell Biology. We welcome applications from scientists whose research spans these areas and/or can help drive innovation in these fields of study. We will also consider strong applicants at the rank of associate professor or professor.

Apply Now

Please direct questions about these open faculty positions to Eric Miller, B.S., Director of Talent and Employee Engagement, at Eric.Miller@vai.org.

Research at VAI


Neurodegenerative Science

Cell Biology

Metabolism and Nutritional Programming

Structural Biology

VAI is a world leader in cancer epigenetics and Parkinson’s disease research, with growing strengths in metabolism and structural biology and historical strengths in cell biology.

Meet our Faculty

VAI’s epigenetics faculty are dedicated to understanding how epigenetic mechanisms influence health and disease, with the ultimate goal of contributing to the development of new, more effective therapies.

Chair: J. Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D.

Focal areas: Cancer epigenetics, epigenetic heterogeneity, developmental plasticity, chromatin regulation and DNA methylation

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Neurodegenerative science at VAI focuses on identifying the mechanisms that give rise to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia with the goal of contributing to novel treatments that slow or stop the progression of disease.

Chair: Darren Moore, Ph.D.

Focal areas: Parkinson’s disease, dementia, iPSC and animal models, neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative mechanisms

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Our Cell Biology team investigates the underpinnings of cancer, skeletal diseases and rare disorders with the goal of better understanding the mechanisms and pathways that give rise to these conditions.

Chair: Bart Williams, Ph.D.

Focal areas: Stem cell biology, growth factor and morphogen signaling, identification and characterization of markers for tumor prognosis, cell-based repair of degenerative diseases, and cellular differentiation

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The Metabolism and Nutritional Programming team aims to develop scientifically driven strategies for improving health through advanced prediction, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Chair: Russell Jones, Ph.D.

Focal areas: Immunometabolism, mitochondrial biology, cancer metabolism, metabolomics, nutrition and epigenetics

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The Structural Biology team is dedicated to revealing the chemical basis for biological systems in health and disease, by combining cutting-edge technologies such as X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy with extensive protein biochemistry.

Chair: Huilin Li, Ph.D.

Focal areas: Structural biology in genetic and epigenetic regulation, structural basis of neurodegenerative diseases, and single-molecule and other biophysical approaches.

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Outstanding Support

Our world revolves around supporting groundbreaking science and our infrastructure and support reflects this commitment.
We offer a comprehensive and competitive salary and support package in addition to internal support mechanisms, state-of-the-art Core Technologies and Services, high-performance computing and outstanding mentorship programming.

Salary and Support Package

VAI’s comprehensive salary and support package is equivalent to endowed professorships at traditional universities and includes:

  • 100% VAI-paid salary
  • Comprehensive lab start-up funds
  • $65,000 per year to support staff or supply needs
  • 25% of an administrative assistant’s time
  • Stipend support for 1.5 Van Andel Institute Graduate School students

Internal Faculty Award Programs

In addition to salary and start-up, VAI provides several internal Faculty Award Programs:

  • Scored Grant Award: This program provides investigators whose federal grant applications score highly but still fall below the payline up to $100,000 to conduct the research necessary to put forth a successful resubmission.
  • Faculty Incentive Award: Investigators whose graduate students or postdoctoral fellows earn federal training awards such as F31, F32 or F99 grants receive $24,000 a year to support their research.
  • Bridge Funding: Our Bridge Funding program supports investigators who face a lapse in federal funding with the financial support to conduct research required to re-establish federal funding.
  • Proofof-Concept Funding: This program provides funding to investigators who are pursuing commercialization efforts.

Core Technologies and Services

Our Core Technologies and Services offer a comprehensive range of advanced technologies and expertise to support and enhance research at the Institute and at collaborating organizations. Staffed by highly qualified professionals with an acute understanding of their respective fields, the Core team is committed to providing superior service and conducting exceptional science to further the Institute’s goal of improving human health through basic and translational research.

Each VAI investigator receives subsidized Core pricing in addition to VAI-paid 60 hours of bioinformatics/biostatistics support per year.

Learn more about Core Technologies and Services here.

High-Performance Computing

VAI recognizes the essential role high-performance computing plays in nearly all aspects of today’s research landscape. We offer a state-of-the-art computing system with 20 terabytes of free storage for each lab. Our expert team ensures our pipeline runs smoothly and efficiently to maximize efficacy and efficiency.

Mentorship and Career Programs

All junior faculty are supported by mentorship committees of senior VAI faculty and external faculty that meet twice a year at minimum to aid in their development. VAI recently has started providing mentor training for senior faculty through the University of Wisconsin Center for the Improvement of Mentoring Experiences in Research (CIMER) model to ensure that both mentor and mentee get the most out of their experience.

All faculty also take part in VAI’s Good-to-Great management training course that concentrates on key attributes or abilities that are needed to be a successful manager at VAI.

We also are thrilled to provide an Early Career Support Program, run by renowned scientist Dr. Marie-Françoise Chesselet. Dr. Chesselet serves as an external mentor and provides expertise in lab management, grant preparation, and oral and written presentations. She also provides critical, objective assessments of our support programs to ensure we are meeting the needs of our junior faculty.

One-of-a-Kind Operations and Administrative Support

VAI provides each investigator with second-to-none research, operational and administrative support including:

  • Research Operations, which assists with lab moves and set up as well as ongoing support for equipment set up, pipette calibrations, lab notebook archiving, and more.
  • Clinical Collaborations, which assist in navigating local, national and international clinical collaborations, including clinical trials.
  • Glassware Services, which distributes clean glassware and collects used glassware for proper sanitizing and redistribution.
  • Office of Sponsored Research, which helps prepare and manage grant submissions.
  • Scientific Events, which supports the planning and hosting of meetings, conferences and symposia.
  • Communications and Marketing, which works with investigators to share their breakthroughs with the world through news releases and media outreach, development of lab websites, videos, graphics and media training.
  • An on-site library and librarian that provide access to more than 160 journals through VAI and a partnership with Grand Valley State University’s library system.
  • Philanthropy, which fosters relationships with donors and philanthropic foundations to support research at VAI.
  • Business Development, which supports technology transfer, materials transfer agreements and patent-related issues.
  • Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, which provides career development services for VAI’s postdoctoral fellows.
  • An in-house lab supply center, which provides gloves, common reagents and more.

Comprehensive Benefits

At VAI, 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 well-being, as well as supporting the diverse and changing lives outside of work.

We understand that attracting the highest caliber talent means offering an exciting job and high quality, dependable benefits that meet one’s personal needs. It is our commitment to provide benefits designed to allow you that peace of mind.

Health Care Benefits

VAI is proud to offer a comprehensive and highly competitive benefits package. To learn more, please visit our Benefits Overview here.

Medical Plans
Two PPO plans with prescription coverage options are offered which allow you to choose the plan that best serves the needs of your family. Employees can choose between a pre-tax, minimal contribution plan option or a no-cost contribution plan option.

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.

Re-location Services

Our Research Operations team assists incoming investigators with re-location and set up of their lab. In addition, VAI provides re-location services for house-hunting and a re-location stipend to make your move as easy as possible.

Parental Leave

We are pleased to offer six weeks of paid paternity leave for new parents.

Vacation and Time Off

VAI provides nine 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.

We also offer bereavement leave of up to three to five 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 five 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.

401(k) and Match

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.


  • Subsidized on-site café that provides meal options, snacks and Starbucks coffee
  • On-site fitness center, lockers and showers
  • Free covered parking
  • Friday social gathering
  • Sponsored sports clubs
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Lactation rooms
  • Financial wellness services
  • Discount programs


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 no. 19 on its “100 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 (see a full list of Grand Rapids rankings here). 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 a full list of the city’s accolades, click here.

Our Values

Van Andel Institute is 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. Every day, we commit ourselves to bringing them to life in all we do. Learn more about them here