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Sustainable Health

Michigan State’s approach to advancing health and excellence in health education has consistently focused on people, communities, partnerships and innovative thinking. These themes will continue as we aim to triple National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control funding within five years.

The COVID-19 pandemic shone a bright light on inadequacies in our health care system, including those in preparedness and public health infrastructure, in our communication about health issues and particularly in the extraordinary disparities in outcomes between Black and white people in morbidity and mortality during the early phases of the outbreak. It also highlighted the critical role of research universities in addressing acute and long-term health issues through advances in clinical care, discoveries in basic and translational research and broad public health measures.

Michigan State University has created a national model for improving health and well-being in underserved communities with our groundbreaking Flint public health initiative and an innovative new way to couple medical education and research at our medical school campuses in Grand Rapids and Flint.

A key component of this dynamic model of research, education and service is developing programs that address needs expressed by the community and working with communities as full partners in the solutions. Our strategy of making greater contributions in sustainable health builds on this approach. This work is anchored in our land-grant mission and its history of extending the university to improve lives.

Our intention is to improve the health of Michigan’s residents and reduce health disparities through delivery of cutting-edge clinical care, innovative public health initiatives and basic and translational biomedical research. As one example, only 38% of Michiganders with mental health concerns are receiving treatment and more than half of individuals with substance abuse disease are not receiving treatment at all. To address issues around access and acceptance, we will use our community-based approaches, supported by investment and expertise in key areas such as education, nutrition, logistics and the social, behavioral and environmental sciences.

We also will seek like-minded clinical partners. Our new long-term partnership with Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) offers tremendous opportunity to improve health care in Michigan and reduce health disparities throughout the state. It spans all components of our health care mission, and, when fully realized will bring the power of MSU’s diverse multidisciplinary strengths into joint effort with HFHS’s excellence and scale in health care delivery and biomedical research for maximum impact. Sustainable health is a holistic state of physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Our work will be guided, informed and in partnership with the communities we seek to serve. We accept responsibility to form reciprocal relations with the populations we serve and from which we draw research data. We commit to listening to community needs and expectations as we strive to return resources to those communities in a shared mission to transform public health.

We commit to improving quality of life by addressing health and social determinants of health, from delivering cutting-edge clinical care to investing in public health and education initiatives to advancing basic and translational biomedical research.

Goal: Enhance quality of life for people everywhere by comprehensively leveraging expertise and research activity to improve health and the systems that affect health

Objective 1

Meet the physical and mental health needs of our students, faculty and staff


  • Prioritize improving workplace environment with an emphasis on developing a culture of caring as a significant factor in an individual’s overall health
  • Integrate and articulate health considerations into university decision- and policymaking
  • Develop a model for comprehensive delivery of university health care services
  • Be best-in-class in prevention, reporting and response to Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct, incorporating the recommendations of the RVSM Workgroup (Recommendations may be found by visiting

Objective 2

Partner with communities and organizations to reduce health disparities (racial, ethnic, gender, rural-urban) in Michigan by 2030


  • Advance policies and interventions that eliminate structural racism in health care provided by MSU and our community partners
  • Work with community and other partners to close the gap on social determinants of health for the state of Michigan
  • Increase engagement and participation of historically underrepresented communities in clinical research by strengthening relationships and building trust

Objective 3

Engage the entire MSU campus in a comprehensive approach to improving health, leveraging expertise and elevating care, education and research activities


  • Promote the central role of the arts and education in sustainable health in fostering intellectual inquiry, openness to new ideas, understanding and inclusion
  • Augment holistic wellness throughout life, including social determinants of health (e.g., economic well-being, education, environment, nutrition, social and community context, etc.)
  • Increase animal welfare initiatives in agriculture and agricultural/aqua-cultural sustainable practices for responsible and reliable protein sources for a growing human population

Objective 4

Lead nationally in devising innovative educational pathways to careers in health, supplementing existing health and premedical majors and evolve curriculum to incorporate commitment to an inclusive and healthy society


  • Articulate 50 clear educational pathways to a career in health that help prospective students understand how to achieve their vision of a career in health
  • Incorporate the importance of an inclusive and healthy society into the health curriculum
  • Develop a leading health education model that melds elements/strengths from across health and related professions and uses expertise from our leadership in STEM education

Objective 5

Work with health and business partners across Michigan to ensure patients and families have access to equitable, high-quality, affordable and safe health care


  • Drive excellence and innovation in the next generation of education and research addressing health disparities and cancer care across Michigan’s rural, urban and underserved communities
  • Partner with communities, the state, universities and health care institutions to make addiction medicine and behavioral health accessible to all Michiganders
  • Use public-private partnerships to hasten the pace of bringing health innovations to those in need, provide greater access to resources and opportunities for students, faculty and staff, and foster economic development in our region

Sustainable Health: Illustrative Indicators/Metrics

  • Triple MSU NIH/CDC funding within five years
  • Number of qualified human resource and employee assistance staff available to faculty, staff and students to support best practices in policies, procedures and accountability to maintain a safe and respectful working environment (increase)
  • Use of campus mental health services relative to expected use given known incidence of anxiety and depression (increase)
  • Partnerships with multiple institutions and state agencies to address disparities in infant and maternal mortality and in cancer incidence and mortality in Michigan (increase)
  • Clinical trials meeting the target recruitment goal for underrepresented populations (increase)
  • Percent of health care workers completing evidence-based anti-bias training (increase)
  • Partnerships with the creative and theatrical arts in improving health and wellness of our campus, region and state (increase)

Partnerships for Innovation

To accelerate progress toward the healthier future we envision, we must be entrepreneurial, adaptive and nimble, finding new ways to deliver education, conduct research and engage with communities and stakeholders across the globe.

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Flint Public Health Initiative

MSU's partnership with the Flint community has become a national model for improving health and well-being in underserved communities and has led to innovative ways to couple medical education and research at our medical school campuses in Grand Rapids and Flint.

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