GVSU, MSU Sign Agreement

January 29, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Valley State University and Michigan State University formally agreed Tuesday to collaborate on research and academic projects to help improve the state of health care in West Michigan.

The partnership is the last in a series of partnerships MSU has solidified with local institutions to support the relocation of MSU’s College of Human Medicine to Grand Rapids.

Last year, MSU secured funding support for the MSU West Michigan Medical School from Spectrum Health, the Van Andel Institute and Saint Mary’s Health Care in the amounts of $85 million, $16 million and $10 million, respectively.

GVSU President Thomas Haas said Grand Valley’s mission is to be the premier provider of health education in West Michigan, and Michigan State’s is to be the premier provider of medical education, so the two universities will complement each other.

“I see collaborations with research, faculty and programs,” Haas said.

Grand Valley’s health science programs include nursing, physical and occupational therapy and physician assistant studies. GVSU Provost Gayle Davis said it is common for the university to work with the Van Andel Institute on various types of life sciences research, so when MSU works with the VAI on those types of projects, the collaborations could very well involve Grand Valley, too.

There will also be opportunities for students from both universities to collaborate when they have correlating research projects.

“We hope to have an informational system that will keep track of who’s doing what so we can make those collaborations work when they come up,” Davis noted.

The two universities plan to offer some interdisciplinary classes where students from various health care disciplines, such as physical therapy, medicine, nursing and bioinformatics, would all be in the same class to discuss health care issues and approaches, she said.

Work that Grand Valley and MSU do together will be based on the “team” approach to health care, Davis said. Grand Valley health care students and MSU medical students might, for instance, team up for seminars at GVSU’s simulation center where they would work with lifelike, computer-based human models that mimic human physical responses to disease and other physical conditions. Davis said students from various disciplines watching the same demonstration on the simulation equipment will bring different kinds of expertise to the exercise.

“Students will be at different levels in their class work, but in terms of sharing resources for communicating ideas and discussing problems and issues in health care, any number of collaborative conversations could be held.”    

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