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Van Andel Institute Graduate School


Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS) develops future leaders in biomedical research through an intense, problem-focused Ph.D. degree in cellular, molecular and genetic biology. The school thrives within the state-of-the-art facilities of Van Andel Research Institute, a world-class biomedical research organization based in downtown Grand Rapids.


VAIGS was launched in 2007 and produced its first graduates in 2012. Graduates have moved on to successful careers in academia and industry, here in Grand Rapids and at such prestigious institutions as John Hopkins University and Mayo Clinic.


The VAIGS program simulates how scientists approach new research questions, laboratory rotations, seminars and workshops, and optional teaching and hospital experiences. The majority of seminar-style courses are completed during the student’s first and second year. Years three through five are heavily focused on the student’s dissertation work as well as professional development.


The program is small by design, with 20 or so students enrolled in any one year, allowing for valuable one-on-one training with faculty. Individuals from demographic groups that are underrepresented among professional scientists are especially encouraged to apply. Students from around the world can apply to the school’s International Ph.D. program.


Faculty is primarily made up of Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) investigators, each of whom have a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent academic degree as well as a distinguished record of scholarship and contributions to the scientific community.


VAIGS is housed in a landmark building designed by famed architect Rafael Viñoly. The facility is set into a steep hill on Grand Rapids’ “Medical Mile,” which is one of the fastest growing life-sciences clusters in the U.S.


Review admission requirements or contact the Graduate School office: or 616-234-5722.


Van Andel Institute Graduate School