Dean's Update

November 19, 2021 - Aron Sousa, MD


Somehow it has happened again, Michigan has one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. Our hospital partners are being inundated; elective surgeries requiring hospitalization are being delayed once more. If you were a haphazard mask wearer in the past few months, now is the time to up your game. The shiz has gotten real, again. Oh, and there is influenza, too.

When I was working in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, we had young people with COVID who failed nasal cannula oxygen, failed high flow oxygen, and were failing CPAP oxygen with proning before we figured out what COVID was doing to their blood vessels and fixed it. And by young, I mean people with age mates in professional football.

This fits with the stories I’ve heard this week from hospital administrators around the state. So, with hospitals full, and the people reading this space essentially all vaccinated, I want you all to be careful during the holiday. The risk of COVID hospitalization for the vaccinated remains low, but hospitals are stretched very thin. That means the larger risk to the vaccinated is not from COVID but from long emergency department waits and too few hospital staff. Be careful out there.

This week, MSU celebrated its newest University Distinguished Professors (UDP). The college has three prior UPD faculty (Nigel Paneth, MD, MPH, Bob Smith, MD, MS, and Asgi Fazleabas, PhD), and now has a fourth, Sue Barman, PhD, from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Dr. Barman has previously been awarded the College of Human Medicine Distinguished Faculty Award, an NIH Merit Award, and has been president of the American Physiological Society. She has a long history of scientific achievements and has been a dedicated and energetic member of the college’s education program for decades. This is such a wonderful achievement! Please pass on your congratulations to Dr. Barman!

The Town Hall will get a well-deserved break the next few weeks. This Friday I am in meetings with partners in Detroit and next Friday is a holiday. And, then MSU commencement and the winter holidays take up the last three Fridays in December. So, before the turn of the year, we will only have Town Halls on December 3 (Karen Kelly-Blake, PhD) and 10 (Kurt Zinn, DVM, PhD, MS, and a trio of Epidemiology graduate students helping the health department with data on mask mandates).

“Giving Tuesday” is next week, but you do not have to wait for Tuesday to help our students be a Force for Good. The college’s highest fundraising priority is scholarships to help our students. While we have made changes to lower some costs of medical school, student debt is still an issue noted on graduate surveys that pushes grads away from their specialty of choice. We also need recruitment scholarships. Each year we have students who really want to be at the College of Human Medicine, and we would love to have them, but other schools offer enough scholarship to tip the balance. We want to compete for those students. So, please go to the site and make a scholarship donation.

Up your masking game, consider a booster, encourage vaccination, wash your hands (flu!), get your flu shot, and be careful.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean

Read more from the Dean's Update archive