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02.11.16 – Luncheon Notes and Photos

SPOKES Notes by Paul Arnold

The meeting started as usual with President Derek’s welcome, Paul’s song leadership and John’s invocation. Shannon Kolarik welcomed guests and visiting Rotarians and Paula Grivins-Jastifer introduced our newest Rotary Club of Grand Rapids member, Ann Armstrong Cusack. Anne is sponsored by  Dave Bulkowski and Neil Marchand. She works for the Michigan Governor in the Office of Urban Initiatives.

Jamie Crosby introduced four Interact members from East Grand Rapids High School: Marlaina Cole, Taniesha Edwards, Sebastian Harrell, and Easton Schultz. Mark Potter encouraged participation in three upcoming community service projects on Friday and Saturday Feb. 19th and 20th.

Monique Field Foster introduced our speaker of the day, Dr Aron Sousa, Interim Dean of the MSU College of Human Medicine. Dr. Sousa is trained as a general internist.

Dr. Sousa explained that the MSU program:

  1. Is a pioneer in community based medical education 2. Is an innovator in experiential learning and problem based learning (PBL) 3. Has 4000 faculty in seven campuses throughout the state 4. 85% of students are from Michigan and 50% do their residency in this state

The Grand Rapids campus:

  1. Has grown from 60 students to 350 today 2. Students start work in clinics in the first month instead of the traditional third year of medical school 3. Is currently rated as the 15th best research facility of it’s kind in the US

The new Seccia building:

  1. Used no State funds to build
  2. Will cost $88.1M to build
  3. Will be used primarily for research in women’s health and neuroscience 4. Will start with 17 research teams and grow to 44 teams after 2017 5. Will employ 730 workers to build and 400 workers ongoing.

Dr. Sousa showed a short movie featuring Jack Lipton, PhD. The movie explained how neurological research is having success in finding cures for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer disease and brain injuries. Much of the research involves tweaking the patients own cells and changing the energy in nerve cells. Since one clinical trial can cost over $7M, It is important to have strong philanthropic support from the community.

According to Dr. Sousa, success will be measured by how well the school and community partnerships can be harnessed to use science to find cures to change peoples lives. “We all have a part in the story”.

Q & A

The partnership with Pine Rest is still very important.

The reason for the focus on women’s health and neuroscience research is that the school was able to attract the very best experts in those fields.

Most of the funds to operate the facility will come directly and indirectly from Federal grants and foundation money. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Sousa, large pharmaceutical companies are more interested in buying up smaller companies than doing ground breaking research.

MSU medical campus and research facility in Flint has been very helpful in sorting out the specific geography of the lead problem. Strong community partnerships and network connections helped make this important work possible.

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