Research Areas

Explore Our Research

Van Andel Institute is home to groundbreaking research fueled by collaboration, innovation and hope — all with the goal of improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations. Our scientists delve deep into the underpinnings of health and diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and metabolic disorders to drive new breakthroughs that change lives. Our leading-edge research is supported by the state-of-the-art technologies and expertise of our Core Technologies and Services team.


Our scientists investigate the processes that give rise to dementias with the goal of informing breakthrough new treatments.

Bone Diseases

By studying how bone develops, how cells communicate, and how cells respond to the environment and change with age, our scientists are working toward new breakthroughs that may fuel improved diagnostic and treatment strategies for bone diseases.


Cancers occur when healthy cells become sick and replicate uncontrollably. Through research in the lab and clinical trials, our scientists seek improved ways to treat these difficult diseases.


We’re investigating the underpinnings of depression and suicidality, with a special focus on pregnancy-related depression, depression in Parkinson’s disease, and development of a blood test for diagnosing severe depression.

Epigenetics in Health

Epigenetics regulate when the instructions in our genes are acted upon and when they are not, a process that has massive implications for health and can drive disease.

Environment and Health

The environment in which we live, work and play impacts our health in many ways. From the air we breathe to the water we drink, we are exposed to a host of environmental chemicals, some with the potential to contribute to diseases like cancer — both now and in future generations.


We’re investigating how the immune system works and revealing the ways it interacts with other vital processes to support health.

Metabolism and Nutrition

The human body is fueled by metabolism, a constant cascade of chemical reactions that ensure we have the energy to survive and thrive. We’re pursuing a better understanding of how metabolism impacts our everyday lives and our long-term health.

Parkinson’s Disease

Our scientists are pursuing new strategies to slow or stop Parkinson’s progression — something not possible with current treatments.

Rare Diseases

Studying rare diseases is necessary to develop new therapies that improve quality of life for people with these disorders. This work frequently has a ripple effect — the finds may shed new light on well-known diseases in addition to rare ones.

Structural Biology

VAI’s structural biologists study the smallest building blocks of life to understand how they impact health and contribute to disease.

Our Impact

We're raising thousands to save millions

We’re turning hope into action for the millions of people around the world affected by diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s. Find out how you can help us make a difference.

  • 121 peer-reviewed papers published in 2023
  • 62 peer-reviewed papers published in high-impact journals in 2023
  • 55 clinical trials launched to date
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