Obituary — Michael D. Fetters


Michael D. Fetters, professor of family medicine, longtime faculty member, colleague, physician, mentor and friend, died July 16 at his lake home after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer.

Mike was born to Kermit and Jan Fetters in Kenton, Ohio, on Aug. 20, 1961. He was preceded in death by his father, Kermit. He is survived by his mother, Jan; his wife, Sayoko Moroi-Fetters; sons Kori, Tomoyuki, Kazuhisa and Takashi Fetters; sisters Vicki Skinner and Susan Campbell; and many loving friends, family and colleagues.

Michael D. Fetters
Michael D. Fetters

Fetters was a caring and beloved family physician and renowned physician-scientist, he founded and directed Michigan Medicine’s Japanese Family Health Program in 1995. He also was co-founder and director of the Michigan Mixed Methods Program at U-M.

The Fetters family hosted international students through American Field Service, so Mike’s early exposure to Japan was as an AFS high school student to Shizuoka, Japan. This experience influenced his education: B.A. in Japanese studies at The Ohio State University, M.D. at OSU, family medicine residency at University of North Carolina, M.P.H. in clinical epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, and M.A. in bioethics at Michigan State University.

His passion for the intersection of culture and medicine drove his work. Under his direction, the JFHP grew from a single patient to more than 7,000 patient visits per year and serves the growing population of Japanese families living in the Midwest and beyond. He created an innovative curriculum for culturally sensitive medical care to medical students, residents and clinicians. He established the Shizuoka-UM Advanced Residency Training, Education, and Research in Family Medicine.

A giant in the world of mixed methodology, the MMMP promotes specialized research methodology and scholarship across academic disciplines through education, training, consulting and mentoring, with the support of the Department of Family Medicine. Fetters taught multiple workshops in the United States, as well as Canada, Denmark, China, Hong Kong, Qatar, South Africa and Japan, among other countries. And he served as co-editor in chief of the Journal of Mixed Methods Research.

His recent accolades include the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine’s 2023 Curtis G. Hames Research Award, the Japan America Society of Michigan and Southwestern Ontario’s Award of Excellence, the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, and the MICHR Distinguished Clinical and Translational Research Mentor Award.  He was awarded Fulbright scholarships to Tochigi, Japan (1992) and Beijing, China (2016). Countless physicians and scholars around the globe have benefitted from his teaching and mentorship.

Mike enjoyed coaching soccer, baseball and basketball teams for his sons. They loved ocean, inland and Great Lakes fishing. Mike enjoyed cooking their catches as well as other foods, and entertaining. Mike was passionate about working on home projects, most recently focusing on his lake home.

In lieu of flowers, donations will support the Michael D. Fetters, M.D., M.P.H., M.A., and John W. Creswell, Ph.D. Mixed Methods Innovation Fund or the Fetters-Sano-Asano Japanese Family Health Program Educational Fund.

Checks may be made payable to “University of Michigan” and sent to 777 E. Eisenhower Pkwy., Suite 650, Ann Arbor, MI 48108. Include “in memory of Michael D. Fetters” in the memo line of the check or in an attached note, as well as the fund to support. Donors may also call 734-764-6777 or visit


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