MSUToday
Published: Dec. 8, 2011

College of Human Medicine expands public health program in Flint

Contact(s): Geri Kelley College of Human Medicine office: (616) 233-1678 cell: (616) 350-7976 Geri.Kelley@hc.msu.edu, Jason Cody University Communications office: (517) 432-0924 cell: (734) 755-0210 Jason.Cody@cabs.msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. — In a move that will help the region tackle pressing public health needs, Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine will recruit and house a new cluster of top public health researchers in downtown Flint.

The college also will expand its master's level Program in Public Health with faculty and staff located in Flint, and it will increase the number of third- and fourth-year medical students at the three Flint-area hospitals and other clinical sites by 50 percent. The moves allow Flint to join mid-Michigan and Grand Rapids as pillars of the college's statewide footprint, college leaders said.

The plans are being made possible by a $2.8 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint. The program is expected to be located in the city's downtown area, making it part of Flint's growing higher education community.

"Reflecting its core priorities, Michigan State University is working with community partners across the state to train health care workers and to promote regional prosperity," MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. "The partnership with the Mott Foundation is an important example. Working in Flint and Genesee County, not only is MSU providing crucial services to residents but also unique opportunities for students both in public health and medical education."

Flint offers a substantial opportunity to address significant public health needs and to understand the underlying issues and potential solutions, said Marsha D. Rappley, dean of the College of Human Medicine.

"Flint is looking to education as a part of its downtown development and wants MSU to be a part of the community," she said. "With a group of excellent partners and a strong philanthropic community, our new advisory committee will develop a set of targeted public health research needs for Flint and enable us to recruit researchers to help find best practices to address these areas of need in the community."

The MSU/Flint Community Research Advisory Committee will provide guidance as the public health program is developed. Members will engage the residents of Genesee County as well as organizations and institutions to identify public health needs.

The college then will hire six to seven experienced researchers with national funding in one or two clusters focusing on the public health needs most important to the Flint community.

At the same time, centering MSU's public health program in Flint gives the university and college an opportunity to be very innovative, said Michael Rip, director of the program, which has grown from 15 to 350 students in three years.

"We envision a strong community presence and participation," Rip said. "Along with our education program, we see our students working with schools and parents about identifying public health needs and preventing disease."

As part of the online master's degree program students undergo a 30-day practicum, and Rip said many of the students will be working in Genesee County.

"Flint offers a great opportunity to integrate clinical work and research, and this integration will help us focus on prevention," he said.

William S. White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, said: "Through this project, Michigan State University will evolve its long-standing medical education program in Flint by establishing a unique presence that will leverage the resources of several of our top-notch local health care providers.

"Moreover, by establishing a new approach to medical education that embeds training in the public health issues and priorities of our community, the project has the potential to become a national model leading to healthier individuals and a more cost-effective health system."

The Mott Foundation, established in 1926 by the automotive pioneer Charles Stewart Mott, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the U.S. and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally.

Organizations represented on the MSU/Flint Community Research Advisory Committee include Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Hurley Medical Center, McLaren Regional Medical Center, Genesys Health System, Hamilton Community Health Network, Mott Children's Health Center, Greater Flint Health Coalition, Genesee County Health Department, Genesee County Community Mental Health, Genesee Health Plan, Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce, Genesee County Medical Society, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Kettering University and MSU Extension.

For more information on the College of Human Medicine, visit http://humanmedicine.msu.edu/. For more information on the Mott Foundation, visit http://www.mott.org/.

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Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.