On Monday, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced a partnership with historically Black medical colleges, including Meharry Medical College, to further research in an effort to help prevent and treat diseases while addressing gaps in genomics research.
Each medical college will be rewarded with $46 million in funding or $11.5 million per institution over the next five years to invest in genomics programs. In addition to Meharry, the other schools are Charles Drew University College of Medicine, Howard University College of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. CZI’s science program manager for diversity in science Ivory Dean and CZI’s senior science adviser Hannah Valantine will oversee the new program.
“It’s important to underscore that for Black Americans, there is a large gap between representation and need in genomics research, and the time is now to support the intersection of genomics and health differences research that will advance science,” Valantine said in a release. “Research shows that expanding representation leads to innovative discoveries. Actively engaging HBMCs and the communities they serve in genomics research is a necessary approach to harness new perspectives that will fuel creative interdisciplinary research, unleash innovations that have yet to be conceived and accelerate precision health equity.”
The Accelerate Precision Health program will also support the recruitment of faculty members in genomics, support the creation of a new master of science program in genetic counseling and fund tools for data handling, storage and analysis.
“We are incredibly excited to work with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative because of their commitment to building a more inclusive and healthy future for everyone,” added James Hildreth, president and CEO at Meharry. “Their mission aligns with ours, and together, the hope of advancing health equity to serve underrepresented populations will become a reality.”