Dean's Update

June 7, 2024 - Aron Sousa, MD


A picture of the Detroit Town Hall panel. The caption lists participants.

Our Detroit Town Hall panelists were (from left to right): Dean Aron Sousa; Steve Kalkanis, MD, who heads up the Henry Ford Medical Group and the Henry Ford Hospital AND is our associate dean; Nakia Allen, MD (’07), our Community Assistant Dean for Detroit; Leslie Morgan, MS4 and the future of medicine; Michael Genord, MD (’93), MBA (’13), who runs the Health Alliance Plan that is integrated into Henry Ford Health; and Rick Leach, MD, chair of OB-GYN for us and for Henry Ford.


As a part of the college’s 60th Anniversary celebrations, we have been holding virtual Town Halls focusing on college innovations, like our founding as a community-based medical school in 1964 and the creation of one of the first Departments of Family Medicine. We have also been doing in-person Town Halls in our communities, like East Lansing/Lansing and Grand Rapids. Each one is an hour-long time capsule of bon mots from college members, some new, like students, and some slightly more, shall we say, seasoned emeriti.

This week we held our Town Hall at Henry Ford Health in Detroit. From the Gilmour Center at One Ford Place, where we had lunch and the Town Hall, we could see the construction starting on the new research building at the heart of our scientific partnerships. In our short time working with Henry Ford, we have already created a campus, had the first Match Day with Henry Ford Health as a home institution, created the Department of Anesthesia, and brought together our Department of OB-GYN and Reproductive Biology and Henry Ford Medical Group’s Department of Women’s Health. Later this year, we expect to stand up our six new, statewide departments based on a backbone at Henry Ford.

The research collaborations have been even more fruitful, because faculty from the two institutions have been working together. That is the core work that must happen for this partnership to create new discoveries, new care for patients, and new educational opportunities for learners. There are splashy announcements about buildings and leadership positions, and to be sure those are important, but the progress comes only from the work of researchers, clinicians, educators, staff, and students. Our impact is built on developing a vibrant health workforce, discovery of science, the development and dissemination of innovation, helping people meet their health goals, and making communities more sanative. That work depends entirely on the dedication, talent, and engagement of our people.

Our Town Hall spanned all of this work, and perhaps the best moments came from our alumni and student: Michael, Nakia, and Leslie spoke about their work helping people overcome obstacles to get the care they need. From Michael, we heard about the challenges to truly provide resources that make people healthier and to create funding models that support clinical settings that are easy for both patients and physicians to use. Nakia spoke so eloquently to what it means to “serve the people” as a physician, a teacher, and a leader. As we came to a close, they all shared their love and support of Detroit and its people. Rick is from Detroit, as is Leslie, our fourth-year student, who wants to continue her training and then practice in Detroit for Detroit.

Steve provided the large context of Henry Ford Health as a stalwart institution of the city and a leading training and innovating health system for the country. In its 109-year history, Henry Ford has always been in Detroit. When other hospitals closed and moved to the suburbs, Henry Ford not only stayed in town but expanded its campus. Their service to the city as a hospital, as an employer, as an anchor institution has been remarkable. The people of Henry Ford Health have served so many people in Detroit for so long.

deansupdate-Live-well.pngNot long ago, my wife and I started buying some paintings from Courtney Jolliff, an artist Alice met on Chicago’s South Side. Courtney is from Detroit and is moving back to the city, so I commissioned a piece from him specifically about Detroit for my office. The painting (on the right) turns out to be from his memory of going to Henry Ford Hospital for his childhood vaccinations with his Grandma Minnie. There is a lot to unpack in the painting, including why he remembers, so clearly, a Sponge Bob poster in the waiting room. Like Detroit, the painting is a modernist scape of words, colors, images, and people from different perspectives. I look forward to hanging it and talking with people about Grandma Minnie.

There is some news to pass along:

  • Next week, our own Dr. Mona will be recognized for her awesomeness by the Gold Foundation with its 2024 National Humanism in Medicine Medal in a ceremony in New York City.
  • We have started the search for the next associate dean for faculty affairs and expect to take applications soon. Look for the email announcement or contact Allison Tilma.

Next week, the Dean’s Update and the Town Hall will both be canoeing on a great Michigan river, hoping for few mosquitoes and even fewer drunken tubers. Say hello if you happen to see them.

Serving the people with you,


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

60th Anniversary logo.


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