Efforts by Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine to expand its public health program in downtown Flint are getting a boost from a $9-million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
The support will help MSU create an endowment to expand the number of students trained in Flint and to recruit top public health researchers to the city through the program.
“Our growing partnership with the Mott Foundation is helping MSU do more of what we do best: bringing world-class research to bear on real-world problems,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We are committed to providing much-needed health services for the Flint region, and we’re excited about the new opportunities this expansion creates for our students.”
The College of Human Medicine launched its public health program and master’s in public health degree in 2008 on MSU’s main campus in East Lansing. The degree is designed to be available to nontraditional students through online course work and community-based curriculum, research and classes. MSU has had a longstanding relationship with the Flint area health care system, which has provided nearly 750 medical students from the college with clinical training and internships since the 1970s.
“MSU medical students have trained in Flint for many years, and the college has developed a strong working relationship with our local health care institutions,” said William S. White, president and CEO of the foundation. “This public health project adds an exciting new dimension to that work.
“Having strong faculty and researchers based in Flint and performing community-oriented research could help the area become nationally known as an innovator in the field of public health.”
A number of community partners – including Hurley Medical Center, McLaren-Flint, Genesys Health System, Genesee County Health Department and the Greater Flint Health Coalition – have worked together in the last several years to help guide the development of the Flint program. Mott funded those efforts with a $2.81 million grant to MSU in 2011.
The College of Human Medicine’s Flint campus, which includes the public health program and space for researchers, will occupy about 40,000 square feet of the former Flint Journal building, owned by Uptown Reinvestment Corp.
One of MSU’s core goals with the project is for the Flint community to develop a national research reputation in the field of public health. To attract top-caliber researchers, the college needs the stable funding of an endowment to support faculty positions.
“We want to help build a reputation for Flint as a wellspring of medical research that improves lives in mid-Michigan and beyond,” said Marsha D. Rappley, dean of the College of Human Medicine. “That research component will build on the superb medical education and outstanding health care provided by Genesys, Hurley and McLaren. Our growing relationships with all of our partners will make Flint a healthier and more vibrant place.”
The Mott Foundation, established in 1926 by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the United States and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally.