Morgan State University, the historically Black educational institution in Baltimore, Maryland, has partnered with the Lieber Institute for Brain Development an independent, not-for-profit medical research institute working to develop new treatments for brain disorders to establish the African Ancestry Neuroscience Research Initiative. The initiative is being funded by grants from the investment management firm Brown Capital Management and the State of Maryland.
The initiative aims to establish a road map to help close the gap in health disparities and ensure that genomic research and neuroscience studies are representative of individuals across all populations, including those with African ancestry. In research studies of brain disorders, underrepresented minority groups make up less than 5 percent of research cohorts, on average. In large-scale genetic studies of brain disorders, the percentage of individuals of African ancestry is even smaller. This is especially troubling because brain disorders, similar to COVID-19, show important differences in prevalence among ancestral populations, but there is little understanding of the basis of these differences.
“This is a unique opportunity that directly connects to our mission as an urban research university and will allow our faculty and students to engage in important scientific study with the potential for meaningful outcomes that benefit a community that we serve,” said David K. Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “We look forward to lending our resources to this important undertaking and applaud Brown Capital Management for its continued investment into the lives and well-being of African Americans, as well as the Lieber Institute for spearheading this dynamic, collaborative effort.”