MSU receives over $3 million to improve health through nature


EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan State University professor leading study to improve cities health using nature.

The National Institutes of Health awarded a $3.3 million grant for an experiment to improve the health of Detroit’s residents by developing green spaces in the city.

MSU’s College of Social Science Assistant Professor Amber Pearson is leading the five-year study on how biodiversity in an urban area impacts health and wellness.

“Individuals living in socioeconomically deprived inner cities have disproportionately high rates of cardiovascular disease, cancers, Type 2 diabetes and obesity, which can come as a result of stress and lack of physical activity,” said Pearson.

Each year her team will look at the health of 700 residents across low-income Detroit neighborhoods while the City of Detroit and the Audubon Society restore parks in communities.

This study is the first of its kind to look at health data over time during the process of ecosystem recovery.

“While parks can certainly be beneficial in some places, they have the potential for having negative effects on communities if they’re not cared for. Parks can become places for crime, for dumping, eye-sores and places you wouldn’t want your kids to play,” Pearson said. “Ensuring these public places are supporting public health is an important focus for me personally.”

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