MSU's Simon Lauds Med School Partners' Efforts

October 1, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — President Lou Anna Simon took a few moments on Monday to laud the efforts of the stakeholder group that was behind the expansion of MSU’s College of Human Medicine to West Michigan.

“Each of our partners has been extraordinary through this process, which has almost been invisible to some of the community,” Simon said of the stakeholder group that includes MSU, Grand Action, Grand Valley State University, Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, The Right Place Inc. and the Van Andel Institute

The partners spent more than a year pondering the feasibility of a medical school in Grand Rapids as part of a strategy to build a stronger biomedical and life sciences environment to grow the regional economy. The partnership is expected to benefit patient care in Michigan by speeding the translation of cutting-edge biomedical research to patient care in the partnering medical facilities.

Simon said the stakeholders are not just duplicating a model that exists someplace else.

“We’re creating a very, very special model that will, hopefully, be emulated by everybody else in the country, and it takes great partners to do that,” Simon said in an address to the Economic Club of Grand Rapids last week. “The planning for each of our partners’ facilities includes a research base for the medical school, so that the spirit and access are very much integrated into the work of each of our partners. That atmosphere will approximate the best academic medical center in the country, if not the world.”

Construction of the medical school is right on schedule and everything is falling into place as planned, Simon observed. MSU has filled six leadership positions that are focused solely on West Michigan and the development of the medical school program here, Simon noted. The university has also hired 40 faculty members who are part of the West Michigan physician base, and they’ll play a “much deeper” role in the education of physicians, she said. The 50 students who will start their second year of training here next year have been inducted “in their white-coat ceremony,” as well. They will begin their training at the med school’s temporary facility on Division Street.

Simon said MSU is in discussions with GVSU about how the research being done here could potentially be expanded to research in other areas, such as biofuels, biomaterials and the bioeconomy, and are looking at ways in which the two institutions could help create opportunity for West Michigan businesses, as well.

“Our work together around a bio-based economy that reduces our dependence on energy produced through foreign oil is critical for jobs in our country. It’s critical to reverse this capital export problem,” Simon said.

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