Dean's Update

April 26, 2024 - Aron Sousa, MD


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Graduation starts this weekend. Today, I will shake the hands of our PhD graduates as well as the graduates of our programs in the Master of Science in Biostatistics, Master of Science in Epidemiology, and Master of Public Health at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing. It is a thrill for me to see the happiness and accomplishments of each of these students. The work these graduates do in the future will stem from the education, training, and support they received from their fellow students, our faculty, and the staff of their program. They are our legacy.

Yesterday in Grand Rapids, we celebrated Lucas Pozzo-Miller, PhD, as the inaugural recipient of the Mall Family Endowed Professor in Genetic Autism Research. Thanks to the generous gift of the Mall Family, led by Tom and Cathy Mall, this professorship will add to our already strong autism team at MSU. This is great example of generous donors helping lead the college and develop new and stronger programs. The work supported by people like Cathy and Tom creates new science and new scientists (like our graduating students) that may help us find new treatments and solutions for patients and families managing autism.

Most weeks I write a brief harangue about the faculty and staff survey we are doing. Look for an email from It could be in your junk or “other” email box. Imagine additional encouragement to complete the survey. Consider yourself harangued. Do the &*()!@# survey.

The faculty and staff of the College of Human Medicine do a lot of interesting and important work. Many of these projects have newsletters or updates that I receive one way or another. One of my favorites is the state’s Project S.E.N.S.O.R (Sentinel Event Notification System For Occupational Risks) run out of our Department of Medicine by Ken Rosenman, MD, et al. SENSOR is a part of similarly named CDC/NIOSH program designed to study trends in worker health and illness. Their newsletters have some of the most interesting cases that end up on my desk. And yes, I get a hardcopy, the paper version.

Volume 35, number two is just out and includes an analysis of how an outbreak of “120 cases of Blastomycosis occurred, including 13 individuals that required hospitalization and one death” among the workers and contractors at a paper mill in Escanaba, Michigan, from late 2022 until the spring of 2023. It’s an astonishing read. First, the study makes the case for public health, surveillance, and required reporting of both infectious and occupational diseases. Really bad stuff still happens. And then, read about the detective work and analysis that eventually points to one common building. Everyone in the complex entered through one building. The ill included office workers, contractors, mill workers and even one person who came to that one building a single time for an interview. All were exposed to that same building. No one in the broader community got sick and the outbreak ended after the whole complex’s ventilation filters were cleaned-up. Not everyone got sick, but only people who went through that building got blasto, which is a soil-based fungus endemic to the Great Lakes and board examinations. It’s a great read.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD, FACP
Dean, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

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