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Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation have announced a planned 10-year collaboration with Coursera, the National Medical Association, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Morehouse School of Medicine and 26 additional Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Medical Schools (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.”1
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.
Over an initial period of ten years, the collaboration will focus on four key areas:
1. Enable the next generation of Black and African American leaders by creating equitable access to high quality education and professional development for future leaders, in health science, technology and business-related fields.
2. Support the establishment of Digitally Enabled Clinical Trial Centers of Excellence, managed and led by clinical researchers of color, to build trust, increase diversity and inclusivity in clinical trials, and contribute to improved health outcomes for people of color.
3. Research and validate existing data standards that drive diagnosis, clinical trial endpoints and population health policy to identify areas for increased inclusivity and ensure accurate data collection and unbiased treatment decisions.
4. Establish Digitally Enabled Research Centers on the impact of the environment and climate change on health to identify solutions to environmental and climate issues that disproportionately affect communities of color.
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.
Administered by The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the program will train and prepare up to 1,200 students:
▪ Scholarships: Three-year scholarships of $10,000 a year for up to 360 students at select Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Medical Schools.
▪ Mentorships: Novartis employee volunteers will mentor up to 400 HBCU students, including the scholarship recipients, for a period of three years each, for a total of up to 1,200 students. Students also will receive career readiness and leadership development training.
▪ Internships: HBCU undergraduate and medical school students will be encouraged and supported to apply for the Novartis annual internship program.
▪ Research grants: Competitive faculty research grant program offering up to ten grants of $25,000 each year to HBCU faculty, focusing on actionable solutions to health equity issues.