Colorful mural featuring flowers and children's hands in Flint

Michigan State University has a long-standing relationship with the city of Flint, Michigan. MSU Extension has been working with people in Genesee County for more than 100 years and continues to offer programs to help residents thrive. MSU Medical students have been studying, volunteering and working in the community since 1971. Over 300 students from the colleges of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine and Nursing are engaged in Flint, along with faculty, staff and researchers.

MSU clinicians were among the first to uncover the Flint water crisis and help identify community-participatory recovery efforts with the Flint Registry. The university continues to initiate novel public health programs like Rx Kids and the Flint Spartan Master of Public Health Scholarship to help youth grow up with opportunities for physical health and a bright future.

As we reflect on the 10th observance of the water crisis, MSU continues to develop programs that offer mental health solutions, ideas to address health disparities and pathways that empower youth, like the Flint Public Health Youth Academy

Several MSU experts are available to answer questions about the recovery efforts and the university’s initiatives to improve the future of Flint:


Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., MPH, FAAP, is the associate dean for Public Health and C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. She is the founding director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, an innovative partnership of MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint. A pediatrician, scientist, activist and author, Hanna-Attisha is best known for her role in uncovering the Flint water crisis and leading recovery efforts. Ten years later, she is re-imaging how society can come together to eliminate infant poverty with a first-in-the-nation universal citywide cash prescription program, Rx Kids.

“Flint has a history of paving the way forward. Flint knows how to resist, reinvent, revive and thrive. Now, by showing the world what community-driven public health can look like, Flint is innovatively leading the way for health, hope and opportunity.”

Kenyetta Dotson, DMIN, MSW, is the director of community-based implementation and engagement for the College of Human Medicine’s Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health. She is the co-chair of the Community Advisory Board for the Flint Registry and leads the Pediatric Public Health Youth Advisory Council. Dotson is a lifelong resident of Flint and is deeply rooted as a community organizer. 

“After 10 years of living through the Flint water crisis, residents are ready to close this chapter and move on to a healthier, happier and more productive way of life. Having positive programs, a good support team and organizational partners who provide access to the most needed services is a vital necessity for Flint residents and families to embrace their “new normal” and live the healthiest life possible.”

Nicole Jones, Ph.D., M.S., is an epidemiologist with over 20 years of experience on research teams and maternal and child health projects. Jones is a faculty member in the College of Human Medicine’s Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health and the co-principal investigator for the Flint Registry. A lifelong resident of Genesee County, Jones was drawn to the Flint Registry to be part of positive support in the recovery from the Flint water crisis.

“The Flint Registry is a long-term public health project that connects people to services and programs to promote health and wellness and to understand the impact of the Flint water crisis. The community voices expressed through the Flint Registry have led to policy and regulatory changes across Michigan and the United States. Flint is showing the world a model for community-driven public health. This work is helping shape the landscape of future programs, resources and opportunities to ensure a better future for Flint and beyond.” Read more from Jones on MSU Today.

Maria Lapinski, professor of communication in the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and researches health, risk and environmental communication. She is the director of the MSU Health and Risk Communication Center, a research, teaching and public engagement network of over 50 faculty. She studies how people share cultural and social norms through communication. She is interested in how people think about the safety of their water and how communication with people around them impacts their thinking.

Geri Alumit Zeldes is documentary filmmaker and professor in the MSU School of Journalism who centers her creative and scholarly work in Flint, Michigan — her hometown. Zeldes is a five-time Regional Emmy Award winner recognized for her narratives on characters and crisis in the city.


Additional resources:

The Flint Registry connects people to services and programs to promote health and wellness. It also collects information to help everyone understand how the Flint water crisis has affected the Flint community. More than 20,000 people are enrolled, prompting nearly 35,000 referrals to health and wellness services. Michigan State University administers the registry in collaboration with local leaders, educators, clinicians and community-based organizations. The registry’s annual report provides an extensive overview of outreach and activity in 2023 as well as historical information and statistics.

Read more about the MSU College of Human Medicine programs in Flint.


News release originally published on MSU Today on April 5, 2024.