Dean's Update

May 10, 2024 - Aron Sousa, MD


Above: A beloved mother on the Looking Glass River this week.
Above: A beloved mother on the Looking Glass River this week.


This Sunday is Mother’s Day. And, to begin, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in our lives. A special woohoo to one of the newest Spartan mothers – you can watch her and her mate here. In honor of the day, I am going to spend a few paragraphs outlining our college’s scientific and social mission dedication to motherhood:

  • Our college and our #1 NIH Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology Department are home to one of the few NIH centers focused on understanding and eliminating disparities in maternal mortality. The MIRACLE Center (Maternal Health Multilevel Interventions For Racial Equity Center), led by Cris Meghea, PhD, and Jennifer Johnson, PhD, champions interventions and assessments in more than 20 Michigan counties to improve maternal outcomes and reduce health disparities especially for rural, African American, and Hispanic moms.
  • The Maternal Health Equity Lab is also in our Ob-Gyn department and was founded with funding from the MSU-Corewell Alliance. From humble beginnings the Lab has created a nearly 40-fold increase in community funded projects to address maternal health. The team, led by co-directors Lee Anne Roman, PhD, and Cris Meghea, PhD, focuses on engaged scholarship working in collaboration with community health workers. You can learn more about their work in last week’s Town Hall
  • Our college has a strong group of researchers and clinician scientists working to improve general health, mental health, and substance use during pregnancy and postpartum. As examples among many:
    • Claire Margerison, PhD, has identified a high number of deaths during pregnancy and postpartum due to suicide, homicide, and overdose, bringing national attention to these important issues.
    • Cara Poland, MD, who runs MI CARES, is a leader in training substance use prevention and treatment for physicians statewide and nationally, especially for pregnant and postpartum people.
    • Steven Ondersma, PhD, specializes in technology-based approaches to improving perinatal mental health and substance use. He notes technology is better able to reach people at scale and at distance, including people in rural communities.
    • Dawn Misra, PhD, focuses on factors that improve perinatal health, reduce preterm birth, and reduce maternal disparities.
  • Rx Kids is the only community-wide, universal cash allowance program for expectant mothers and infants in the first year of life. The first cash allowance comes when expectant mothers sign up during prenatal care. The program is organized this way in order to help families before the birth of the child. In fact, Rx Kids and Pediatric Public Health Initiative director Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD (’02), MPH, is collaborating with Jennifer Johnson and Cris Meghea and the MIRACLE Center to assess the maternal health outcomes for participants in Rx Kids. And, people are participating in Rx Kids. More than 90% of qualified births in Flint are in the program. More than 600 families have received funds, which they have spent on necessities like food, rent, clothes, and transportation. The stories are heart rending, like the young woman who lost her job after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes – Rx Kids was her rescue. There is a reason this program is so clearly needed.
  • One of our faculty, none other than President Emeritus Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD, has dedicated her scientific career to helping young girls and women facing cancer preserve their fertility. She has done the ovarian work in the field and coined the term oncofertility. When she came to MSU, she brought the Oncofertility Consortium with her. This year’s conference will be in Detroit. Her work has made it possible for so many girls and young women facing cancer to become mothers later in their lives.

I am happy to announce that College of Human Medicine alum Nakia Allen, MD (’07), will be the new community assistant dean (CAD) for our Detroit Campus. Nakia is a pediatrician and has been our clerkship director at the campus. She is an energetic advocate for children and educator at Henry Ford Health. She will also be the director for undergraduate medical education for Henry Ford managing all their medical student programs. Dr. Allen follows in the footsteps of Dr. Eileen Hug, the founding CAD for the Detroit Campus, who is retiring after 27 years of medical education service at Henry Ford Health. Thank you, Eileen, and welcome, Nakia!

The college’s clinical operation is essential to our success as a medical school. With the reorganization of the health colleges a few years ago, we were without an associate dean for clinical affairs. I decided we needed the position again. After a very competitive search, I am delighted to announce Supratik Rayamajhi, MD, will be our associate dean for clinical affairs. I am confident Dr. Rayamajhi’s experience as a successful interim chair, researcher, former clerkship director, and a residency program director will bring important perspectives and skills to the role. To remind people, this position is about helping our chairs and faculty create an excellent clinical program for patients, clinicians, and learners.

We are in a complex clinical ecosystem with many partners and relationships that are as often competitive as they are collaborative. As you know, the college provides a significant subsidy to the practice, and we need to get closer to break-even while providing a better experience for all involved. No associate dean can fix this, but I am confident Supratik will help us improve for the benefit of our patients, students, and faculty. Please welcome him to this new role; he starts June 1.

If you are still with me, may you stay a bit longer. At the Spring Faculty meeting on May 6 (at 07:48 in the recording), CAC Chair, Dr. Scott Counts, presented the requested changes to the bylaws from the Admissions Committee. You can look for the email from the CAC Steering Committee ( to cast your electronic vote. Remember to look in your MSU email if you don’t find it in your main email. We need two-thirds of all CHM voting faculty for this vote to be counted; that’s 366 of you folks! Please vote.

Additionally, while you’re looking in your emails, please search for the AAMC Stand Point Survey from We need as many people as possible to take this survey.

Again, a very happy Mother’s Day to all, and a special loving call-out to you, Mom, and to Alice and Mary!

Serving the people with you,


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

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