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Mary Free Bed and MSU College of Human Medicine Teaming Up for Research and Innovation

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine are joining together to transform Mary Free Bed into a research and teaching hospital. This collaboration sets the stage for cutting-edge research and evidence-based medicine to improve the lives of patients and encourage more medical school students to focus on physical rehabilitation.

Mary Free Bed CEO Kent Riddle and MSU College of Human Medicine Dean Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., announced the affiliation agreement today. They touted its potential to bring more top-notch researchers and research grants to Grand Rapids and to take Mary Free Bed’s best practices to the next level.

“Combining MSU’s research expertise with Mary Free Bed’s outstanding clinical operation will create a powerful partnership that can translate into even better outcomes for rehabilitation patients,” Rappley said. “It also adds MFB physicians to our faculty, giving them greater access to the most current literature and bringing their knowledge and expertise directly into the medical school.”

The partnership means Mary Free Bed will expand its patient-centered focus to include an emphasis on research and innovation.

“As Mary Free Bed expands, we’ll also be growing our leadership role in the industry,” said Riddle. “We’re adding a research component because research is the backbone of innovation.  And, we will immediately expand the number of rotations, enabling medical students to get hands-on experience in the field of rehabilitative care.”

The John F. Butzer Center for Research and Innovation will be headed by Dr. John Butzer, who will step down from his role as chief medical officer at the rehabilitation hospital, a post he has held for 29 years.

“By collaborating on research and education, we improve the care that we provide to our patients,” Butzer said.  “This affiliation is one more way to ensure that we continue to provide superior rehabilitative care and pave the way for educating and training future rehabilitation doctors and other professionals.”                                                                    

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, acute-care rehabilitation hospital. For more than 120 years, Mary Free Bed has served the needs of children and adults - restoring hope and freedom through rehabilitation. The scope of rehabilitation services is not found anywhere else in Michigan: 80 acute-care inpatient beds, extensive outpatient programs and home-based services. The combination of comprehensive services and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables specialty physicians and staff to achieve outstanding clinical results for Mary Free Bed patients. For additional information, visit

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine draws upon MSU’s land grant values to educate exemplary physicians, discover and disseminate new knowledge and respond to the needs of the medically underserved in communities throughout Michigan. The medical school provides students with comprehensive education in clinical settings that most closely parallel the environment in which most physicians practice, in six community campuses at 13 leading hospitals throughout the state. The college is home to centers for excellence in Parkinson’s disease research and women’s health and reproduction research. For more information, visit