TRAVERSE CITY — There’s a new doctor in town.

Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine has added a second full-time epidemiologist to its Traverse City campus. The college has stationed one epidemiologist at the campus since 2015.

Assistant professor and epidemiologist Kelly Hirko, Ph.D., M.P.H., is now working with students at Munson. Dr. Hirko’s research focuses on how racial and socioeconomic disparities and lifestyle affect the causes of cancer.

Epidemiologist and assistant professor Jean Kerver, Ph.D., M.Sc., R.D., has worked in Traverse City for more than a year as part of the College of Human Medicine’s effort to promote public health in rural communities.

Third- and fourth-year medical students serve in clerkships with physicians at MSU’s Traverse City campus. Basic 8-week clerkships include inpatient and ambulatory rotations in OB/GYN , family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine, pediatrics and surgery, according to the Munson website.

MSU researchers in Traverse City are available to help local physicians, physician residents and medical students connect with research opportunities and resources at MSU, said Aron Sousa, M.D., interim dean at the College of Human Medicine. MSU’s presence in Traverse City also allows MSU researchers access to opportunities in northwest Lower Michigan.

Sousa said the addition of a second epidemiologist in Traverse City will strengthen research connections between MSU and Munson.

Kerver has worked on several research projects in Traverse City. One was an effort to enroll 70 women in perinatal research, part of a statewide project investigating how environmental exposures during pregnancy affect the health of children as they grow.

A new study about to begin will look at the effects of an increased intake of dietary fiber in pregnant women.

Munson Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Derk Pronger said hospital administrators hope that some medical students who train in Traverse City will return to the area to practice when they begin their medical careers.

More information about the MSU College of Human Medicine Traverse City Campus is available at munsonhealthcare.org/msu/about.

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