Walstrom Family Gift to MSU Supports Women's Health Research, Medical Care

May 17, 2024

New endowed fund to foster next generation of women's health leaders



To close the gap between women’s health research and other scientific disciplines, Ward and Mari Walstrom of Harbor Springs have made a $1 million gift to bolster education and research in the MSU College of Human Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.

Ward, a graduate of MSU, and Mari Margaret Walstrom, have long been engaged with MSU and its programs. Their gift stems from firsthand experience with the harm gaps in women’s health care knowledge can cause, as their daughter suffered years of undiagnosed health issues.

“Maybe this is just one little puzzle piece, to help solve the problem thousands of women across the world are experiencing: years of horrible pain with no answers or relief,” said Mari Margaret Walstrom. “We see this as a starting point to spare others from suffering...we have to start somewhere, to give women hope.”

The Walstrom Family Endowed Women’s Health Research Fund is creating an early-career training program to increase the number of scientists and clinicians pursuing a lifelong career focused on women’s health care and research.

“We are grateful for the support of Ward and Mari Margaret Walstrom, which will inspire the next generation of medical clinicians and researchers in women’s health,” said MSU President Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Ph.D. “Their gift will provide greater access to resources and opportunities and will hasten the pace of bringing health innovation to improve women’s lives.”

The program pairs medical and graduate students with research teams and will support independent research projects. Four College of Human Medicine early-career graduate students, including one third-year medical student, were recently selected and awarded the funds; each will utilize the Walstroms’ financial support to push forward current research projects, which would not have been possible otherwise.

“It is our desire to support MSU’s research in women’s health, including causes and cures for pelvic pain, and potential relationships and effects of drugs suppressing the immune system,” Ward Walstrom added.

To help further engage the West Michigan and MSU communities in critical women’s health issues and challenges, the fund will also sponsor lectureships, symposia and presentations featuring national and international leaders in women’s health research.

“One in ten women are facing inflammatory pain and other uterine challenges, and the Walstroms’ commitment provides a path of inspiration for others to make a difference at the college,” said College of Human Medicine Dean Aron Sousa.

"Our shared hope is that their generosity leads to new science and new scientists who make the world better for women everywhere who are suffering."

The Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology was ranked number one in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2023, according to a recent Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research Report.

Among 67 universities, the department has been in the top five of its peer institutions for many years and moved to the top spot last year.

For additional information on supporting women’s health at MSU, contact the College of Human Medicine Office of Advancement at chmdevelopment@msu.edu


By Sarah Enlow