The pharmaceutical company Novartis, which is headquartered in Switzerland, and the Novartis US Foundation today announced a planned 10-year collaboration with Coursera, the National Medical Association, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and 26 additional HBCUs to co-create programs that address the root causes of systemic disparities in health outcomes and create greater diversity, equity, and inclusion across the research and development ecosystem.
As an initial step, the Novartis US Foundation plans to invest $20 million in scholarships, mentorships, and research grants over the next 10 years to help create equitable access to high-quality education and professional development for HBCU students in health-related fields. This will include three-year scholarships of $10,000 a year for up to 360 students at select HBCUs.
The partner institutions have pledged to co-develop programs focused on building trust in the health care system with communities of color and making measurable progress towards health equity. Working together with the communities they aim to impact, the collaboration will focus on improving access to high-quality education, technology, improved health outcomes, and promising jobs; increasing clinical trial and clinical trial investigator diversity; addressing inherent bias in the data standards used to diagnose and treat disease; and finding actionable solutions to environmental and climate issues that disproportionately affect health among communities of color.
“Health equity is not only accessible healthcare for patients but developing educational and professional opportunities to create a diverse pipeline of educators, clinicians, and other professionals, as well as ensuring all are included in clinical studies,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of the Morehouse School of Medicine. “This is a first of its kind collaboration and Morehouse School of Medicine is excited to work with Novartis and this coalition of medical schools, colleges, universities, and other leading companies and organizations to create centers of excellence for clinical trials, data standards research, and environment and health research. We know that real change starts here, when work is done to make a significant impact on representation and inclusion.”