University launches tri-campus collaboration in Flint

Monday, March 21, 2016 - 10:00pm

University President Mark Schlissel visited Flint Monday to meet with researchers working on a range of water-related projects aimed at finding solutions to problems related to the Flint water crisis.

The University provided the initial seed funding for the projects, which Schlissel announced in a letter to University community members in January.

In a statement, Schlissel said he appreciated the opportunity to see the work being done across all University campuses.

“I was gratified to see the wide-ranging scope of proposals we received from our talented faculty members across all three of our campuses” he said. “It is a true testament to how deeply committed the University community is to Flint’s recovery from this crisis.”

In total, seven proposals for projects were selected for funding. The three major projects focus on long-term health effects, youth impact and special group influence.

Provost Martha Pollack said in a statement that each project chosen looks into areas that will have direct positive impacts on the community in Flint.

“Each of the research projects deals with important topics, and they will all have different benefits that will lead to better ways to address the issues that have risen from the Flint water situation,” she wrote

The long-term health effects project will focus on an integrated approach, according to a press release. A team of experts from the School of Public Health, UM-Flint’s School of Health Professions and Studies, and Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine will look into the medical, psycho-social, developmental and economic impact of lead poisoning by monitoring a group of affected residents over time.

Another project will observe how the water crisis will affect teenagers in the community and their futures, with researchers from the School of Public Health partnering with the Flint Odyssey House-Health Awareness Center to work with teenagers who have been affected by the crisis.

The last major project aims to assess the impact of lead exposure on adults with increased vulnerability, looking specifically at individuals who receive home care services.

Kathryn Boles, executive director of the Valley Area Agency on Agin, said in the press the latter project will help ensure older citizens of Flint are not overlooked.

“My hope for the research is that we’re able to identify the ways our most vulnerable senior populations, such as those receiving home care services, are being impacted by the water crisis so we can improve and modify programs to better address those needs,” she said.