It is with great sadness that we share with you that on the morning of Friday, August 21, Dr. Vivian Labrie died in a car accident near her home.
Here is the story of how we met her.
On October 16, 2015, we were the Presenting Sponsor at the Driving Toward a Cure for Parkinson’s Gala hosted by VAI at The Dearborn Inn in Detroit. We met Dr. Patrik Brundin, one of the top researchers in the field of neuroscience with more than 350 publications on Parkinson’s. He is also the Director of VAI. Since then, we have built a strong relationship. He was considering our invitation to speak at our 7th Annual Shakin’ Not Stirred Parkinson’s Fundraiser in Knoxville on May 19, 2017. That was until he was reminded that his son Sam’s birthday was on May 20.
On March 12, 2017, we received a text from Patrik, suggesting that “a formal invitation…might do the trick” in getting a “rising star…who is a world leader in her field…an excellent speaker…” to attend our event. Her name, Dr. Viviane Labrie. She accepted our invitation to (1) meet with our Advisory Board prior to the event to provide updates on research we had funded and (2) be our featured speaker for the evening. After we learned about her passion for horses, it somehow seemed predestined that we held at our event held at Hunter Valley Farm.
Earlier this year our Founder, Steve Hodges, had the opportunity to meet with the Chairman and CEO of the Van Andel Institute, David Van Andel, and Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Peter Jones in Grand Rapids, home of the Van Andel Institute (VAI), that supports more than 400 scientists, educators, and staff. During our conversation, Steve learned that David’s Mom died with ALZ and his Dad with Parkinson’s. His parents served as the motivation to conduct research, with a focus on cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Their goal is not to be the biggest research lab. It is to be the best!
We believe VAI was the perfect place to conduct her research.
Although she was only 40 years old, Dr.Labrie, made significant contributions to both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s research. To learn more about this talented scientist that had so much more to give, we encourage you to go to vai.org.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and with her colleagues at VAI.