Flint Area Study

We are developing a resource of comprehensive public health data. Our resource will include information about environmental exposures, physical measures, biological samples, and behavioral survey responses. Longitudinal cohort studies in other areas of the nation have laid the groundwork for us to understand how biology, the environment, and public health policy interact. However, for comprehensive understanding of these interactions and their subsequent long-term consequences, diverse longitudinal cohorts are required. Flint is special because it is both diverse and relatively geographically insulated.

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The Flint Area Study will use the strengths of traditional location-based longitudinal cohort studies by collecting baseline measures for a longitudinal study of inter- and multi-generational transmission of risk and resilience in Flint. Building comprehensive longitudinal epigenetic data with a diverse cohort will provide a critical resource needed for research around ensuring equitable public health solutions and monitoring the long-term consequences of multiple environmental exposures, including prolonged exposure to toxic levels of lead during the Flint Water Crisis.

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The Flint Area Study is an exciting project that will represent collaboration from every corner of Flint. Households that participate will be a part of a scientific endeavor that will benefit current and future generations. Over three stages, we will find out where residents who might be interested are located, what kinds of positive or negative environmental conditions exist, and what the overall public health status is in Flint.

Join Us!

Exciting Team Member Positions now available

        *Research Assistant
        *Project Coordinator

Job Inquiries and CV’s contact:

General Inquiries:

FAST@hc.msu.edu or FlintAreaStudy@hc.msu.edu

Phone: 1-810-600-5682

“We have taken on the task of researching health in our city. We are committed to contributing to a culture of excitement about the future of Flint. We are your neighbors, colleagues and friends.”


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is the Flint Area Study? 

We call it “The FASt” for short. The FASt is a unique research collaboration between Flint-based researchers and residents. Randomly selected households will be part of a historic study that seeks to accurately evaluate the reality of life in Flint. We will first find out what kinds of positive and negative environmental features exist in Flint, and measure overall public health status of the residents. Then, we will look at residents’ genetics. Our goal is understand how environmental factors work with genetic factors to produce health problems or healthier families. This type of project is called a “gene by environment” project, and it is important.

2. What makes the FASt unique?

The FASt is based in Flint, which is a diverse community. Most genetic studies do not include a diverse mix of study subjects. In addition, the FASt is unique because it includes very in-depth environmental information for multiple generations.

3. What is FCHES? 

FCHES stands for Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions. The center’s work is community based participatory research devoted to detecting health disparities and establishing health equity solutions. 

4. What is the IRB? 

The Institutional Review Board is in East Lansing. It protects people who agree to be a part of research projects, their information and the overall integrity of the study.

5. Why is this research important? 

Our research is extremely important because we need evidence of the status of health in Flint. Particularly after the water crisis, documentation is required. The only way to prove the need for increased public health services is to have solid research evidence. 

6. Why did you choose me? 

We chose random households throughout Flint neighborhoods so that we can have all areas and all people adequately represented. 

7. How many people are involved in this study? 

We seek to recruit 400 households total in the study, and we seek to have 1000 residents participate. 

8. Why should I participate? 

You and your family should participate because we need an honest account of what life is like in Flint and who lives here. We want the story of Flint to be told by Flintstones. You are an important part of the story. The results of this study will determine our ability to advocate for services for this and future generations. 

9. Why is it important that children are involved in this survey? 

Children are a necessary voice in all community stories. We need to understand the way children are experiencing education and health habits, and how health practices are being passed down from generation to generation. 

10. Can I give invites friends or family to be in study? 

All participating residents are selected at random.  We will only survey the people living in selected homes. The invitation to participate is not transferable to people in other homes.

11. Is there any cost to me? 

No, there is no cost for residents to participate.

12. Are the research staff from Flint?

Yes, 810 Cornerstones are from Flint. You can read more about the Cornerstone that visits you at our website.

13. Do I get compensated for my time? 

Yes, there is monetary compensation for each family member’s time. 

14. When do I get the compensation? 

Each family member gets his/her compensation upon completion of the survey or blood draw. 

15. How many questions are in the survey? 

There are separate surveys for different family members.  Surveys range from 50 to 150 questions.

16. Are the questions difficult? 

No. The questions cover subjects like eating habits, health practices and family structure.  

17. Are you going to ask about my success?

Yes. We want to know what is working well in your life. 

18. What will be done with the samples? 

Once the samples are collected, they will be assigned a random code and then be sent to a Bio Specimen repository to be preserved until testing. Once testing is complete FASt researchers will publish research methods and results to help support residents request for additional public health services. 

19. What kinds of test will be run on the samples?

We will do genotype testing on the samples.

20. What does Genotype mean?

Genotype refers to unique characteristics of a person’s DNA. The makeup of a person’s genotype can make her more or less susceptible for health issues. 

21. What does Phenotype mean?

Phenotype are characteristics that you can see like eye color and height.  

22. Will you be able to tell me what types of diseases I have? 

We are not doing clinical tests so we will not have the type of results you would expect from a doctor. There will be no testing for STDs or other communicable diseases.  

23. Will my information be kept confidential? 

Yes. All information and samples are treated with strict confidence.  

24. Do I receive results?

The results of this study will speak to the Flint Community as a whole not about individuals. 

25. Can I opt out of giving a blood sample and still participate? 


26. Who will see the survey results? 

Community results will be published and sent to community groups, health agencies, etc. We want to make sure that everyone understands health status in Flint. 

27. Do I have to provide sensitive data beyond the survey questions? 

No. We do not need any identifying information. We DO NOT ask you for documents like your driver’s license, Social Security card, or your birth certificate.  

28. Why do you need to come in to my home? 

We want you to be comfortable, and we don’t want you to worry about how to get to us. If you are more comfortable coming to us, you can tell your assigned Cornerstone and we will make necessary arrangements. 

29. How long will the survey take? 

Each survey varies in length by person. For an average adult, the survey take 2-3 hours. For an average child, the survey takes 1-2 hours.

30. Do I have to complete the entire survey in one session? 

No. If you need additional time you can let your Cornerstone know when you want to schedule a follow up visit. 

31. Can I postpone my appointment if I have an emergency? 

Yes. We want you to be as comfortable as possible.  

32. What happens if I don’t finish?

The incentive will be distributed at the completion of the survey. If necessary, the FASt interviewer will schedule a follow-up date to return to the resident’s household and finish the survey.  

33. When will the survey end?

The FASt  is an ongoing study that continues into the future. Residents will be re-contacted every three years. We would love for you to participate as long as you are willing. 

34. Will this research help with the water crisis? 

This study will help to communicate the short term and long-term effect impact of the water crisis. 

35. Can you provide me with a water filter? 

Although we do not have water filters at MSU we can provide contact information for Community Outreach and Resident Education Program, Michigan State Department of Environmental Quality. We also connect you to the Flint Lead Registry. 

36. What will be done with the samples after the project is over?

We plan to answer important questions about the environment’s effect on health with the samples. We will continue to use the samples for this purpose.

37. Is it safe? 

Yes. All staff are trained and have relevant certifications for your safety. 

38. Who do I call if I have questions? 

You can the FASt office directly if you have any questions. That number is 810-600-9124. 

39. How often will I have to take the survey? 

We plan to contact you at least every three years to understand how your health is progressing. With your permission, we will also contact you if there are opportunities for you to participate in other related projects.

 40. What happens if I move? 

Please call 810-600-9124 and share your new contact information.

Key Personnel

Academic Collaborators

  • Julia Felton (Psychometrics)
  • Kelly Bakulski (Epigenetic Methodology)
  • Alison Bernstein (Epigenetic Analysis)

Project Coordinator


GIS Analysis

Alan Harris

Data Analyst

Zac Buchalski

Research Assistants

  • Rolando Barajas
  • Lillian Boufakhreddine
  • Danielle Green
  • Jessica Gutierrez
  • Shawana Henderson
  • Jordan Johnson
  • Gregory Kelly
  • Ivory Miller
  • Aaron Neeley
  • Mildred Zucarro

2018 Health Equity Research Summer Scholar

Maeko McGovern

Brand Consultant

Emily Tyner

You can be a part of a scientific endeavor that will benefit current and future generations. Interested to learn more? Please contact us!