News Release

Creation of new orthopedic research alliance announced

Program includes MSU, Spectrum Health, OAM, and Van Andel Institute among partners

Business Announcement

Van Andel Research Institute

Grand Rapids, Mich. (October 20, 2009) – The creation of the Translational Orthopedic Research Program (TORP), a new partnership of Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and its affiliate the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Spectrum Health, Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan (OAM), and the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Human Medicine, was announced today by officials of the sponsoring organizations who gathered at Van Andel Institute for the World Osteoporosis Day Summit, a meeting spotlighting local osteoporosis efforts.

TORP will unify basic, applied, and clinical research programs to create a Center of Excellence for Orthopedic Research under the leadership of VARI Senior Scientific Investigator Bart Williams, Ph.D., with the major goal of positively impacting patient care in West Michigan.

"The TORP initiative was stimulated by the synergies created by the basic research on bone disease being carried out at VARI, and the clinical work of our partners," said Williams. "With input from national experts in the field, we are designing this partnership to have a significant impact on human health."

National experts on bone disease and orthopedic research convened with representatives of each of the partners in Grand Rapids in late September at a summit meeting where they provided models of successful orthopedic research programs.

VARI and TGen will head up most aspects of basic and applied research including the development and implementation of biomarkers, disease models, cell biology, genetics, imaging, and biomedical engineering. MSU, OAM and Spectrum will lead aspects of clinical research including clinical trials, treatments, education and prevention, and the collection and banking of biosamples and records.

The development of TORP has already stimulated the hiring of a joint recruit between VARI and Spectrum Health. Jim Mason, Ph.D., is a biomedical engineer who will focus his efforts on developing pre-clinical models for orthopedic disease and coordinating efforts in the local clinical community to develop infrastructure for clinical trials and community outreach.

"The 'perfect storm' has occurred with philanthropy, a non-nomadic patient population, an expert research institute, highly skilled orthopaedic surgeons with an active clinical research department, Level I trauma center, and a college of human medicine," said Clifford Jones M.D., OAM Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon. "This alliance has become greater than the sum of the parts."

"A unique opportunity to legitimize practice for optimal bone health clinical outcomes has surfaced for our community and beyond," said Debra Sietsema Ph.D., R.N., OAM Clinical Research Director.

"The goal of TORP is to work collaboratively within the region to create a center of excellence for orthopedic research and to serve as an organizing center for collaborative projects with interested community members," said VARI and TGen President and Research Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent. "It is yet another manifestation of the spirit of collaboration and cooperation that exists among the life science partners of the Medical Mile and the region as a whole."


Van Andel Institute

Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent research and educational organization based in Grand Rapids, Mich., dedicated to preserving, enhancing and expanding the frontiers of medical science, and to achieving excellence in education by probing fundamental issues of education and the learning process. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), the research arm of VAI, is dedicated to probing the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson and other diseases and working to translate those findings into effective therapies. This is accomplished through the work of over 200 researchers in 18 on-site laboratories, in laboratories in Singapore and Nanjing, and in collaborative partnerships that span the globe. Visit


The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, please visit:

Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan

Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan (OAM) is the largest private orthopaedic practice in Michigan. OAM is a comprehensive orthopaedic center providing multidisciplinary assessment. Having fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeons in all specialties, OAM provides care for all ages (from head to toe, infants to elders) and for all musculoskeletal problems. OAM provides cutting edge care and is recognized nationally and internationally for outstanding care, leadership, and research, which legitimizes the results. OAM has two locations at 230 Michigan NE, Grand Rapids MI 4950 and at 1111 Leffingwell Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525. They can be reached at 616-459-7101. To learn more, please visit

Spectrum Health

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, a collection of seven hospitals and more than 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group and multispecialty physician groups with more than 400 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 500,000 members. Spectrum Health's 16,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care. The organization provided $111.1 million in community benefit during its 2008 fiscal year. As a system, Spectrum Health has earned more than 100 awards during the past 10 years. Visit

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Founded in 1964, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine was among the first established community-based medical schools, with a curriculum that emphasized a patient-centered philosophy. The College of Human Medicine provides students with comprehensive training in clinical settings that most closely parallel the environment in which many physicians practice. During the third- and fourth-years of the program, students complete a series of required and elective clerkships at one of MSU's seven community-based program sites located in Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Saginaw, Traverse City and the Upper Peninsula.

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