From Provost Martin Philbert

SPH and the Flint public health crisis

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Dean Martin Philbert The public health crisis in Flint has been front-and-center in the news and public conversation. Many of you have been active in community-based efforts, research, teaching and training, media expertise, or other important work relating to the city.

In fact, our partnerships in Flint date back more than 20 years, and it is through the strength of those relationships and their roots in the community that we will continue doing our most effective, sustainable work. I want to make sure we are all aware of the many ways we are working to partner with the Flint community and with local, state, and federal agencies to think through the best and most sustainable set of solutions that will protect the public’s health now and in the future.

You may have seen our website addressing our work and connections with Flint: https://sph.umich.edu/flint-crisis/ . On this website, you will find details about our partnerships and service, collaborations and research, media coverage, events, volunteer opportunities, and various resources.

A few brief examples of our activities with the Flint community:

  • Many faculty were engaged early in the sequence of events to provide scientific and public health advice.

  • Eden Wells is the State Chief Medical Executive and is in the epicenter of communicating health risks, working with federal agencies, and providing care.

  • Al Franzblau is on an advisory committee that is at the center of assessing the situation and providing sound advice.

  • Several faculty members have participated in media interviews, including Eden Wells, Rita Loch-Caruso, Dana Dolinoy, and Howard Markel.

  • Other faculty members are actively engaged in exposure assessment and beginning to chart the path forward.

  • Marc Zimmerman and his team already have a longstanding relationship with community partners in the city.

  • Peter Jacobson and I are working on creating an SPH task force that will work with the community to create sustainable solutions.

  • A group of faculty visited with the leadership of the University of Michigan-Flint on January 29 to identify additional ways we can collectively respond to the crisis.

  • You can find full details on the website, which we will update daily.

Considering the current media coverage and public discourse, in some ways more heat than light has been shed on the situation to date. At the school, we want to be a durable partner with the Flint community, seeking the right solution, rather than the quickest one, and celebrating success with our community partners as progress is made.

We will keep you updated via this website and our social media channels as our work with our community partners continues to develop. 

Thanks to all of you who have made so many extensive, and often unheralded, efforts to partner with the community and protect the health of the citizens of Flint.

Martin Philbert, PhD, FRSC
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of Michigan