Drug Giant Novartis Pledges Another $17.7 Million To Assist Historically Black Medical Schools

Drug Giant Novartis Pledges Another $17.7 Million To Assist Historically Black Medical Schools

Intending to address systemic health disparities in the Black community, Novartis is pledging another $17.7 million to enlarge its ties with historically black medical schools.

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant reports the money will be used to create Clinical Trial Centers of Excellence at Howard University College of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, according to a news release.

The fresh commitment will boost the total investments to over $50 million over a decade and expand a health program. Started last July as a $33.7 million pledge from Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation,  Beacon of Hope is a  10-year collaboration with Morehouse School of Medicine and 26 other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Coursera, and the National Medical Association.  Other new developments by Novartis with HBCUs call for:

  • Morehouse School of Medicine to initiate first clinical trial at Center of Excellence with Novartis to focus on  highest coronary heart disease mortality rate among Black Americans.
  • Sanofi and Merck join  Beacon of Hope to conduct clinical trials through the four Historically Black Medical School clinical trial Centers.
  • Novartis sets up Beacon of Hope Summer Fellowship program at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, an effort to train students for careers in drug discovery and clinical research.

Novartis’ drive is coming as Black students are enrolling at medical schools at banner levels.  BLACK ENTERPRISE reported in January 2022 of the 22,000 students who started medical school last fall, those who identified as Black or African American jumped 21% from 2020-21, based on new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The surge came after AAMC data revealed last June that the United States could see estimated shortages of “between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034.” It pointed out that it could contain shortfalls in primary and specialty care.

Patrice Matchaba, MD, Head of US Corporate Responsibility at Novartis, and President of the Novartis US Foundation, offered this statement. “Within one year of launching this unique collaboration, we have made tangible progress in tackling social determinants of health like education and discrimination, and creating enduring solutions for increasing diversity and inclusion in clinical trials.”

He added, “Last year we issued a call to action to other like-minded companies and organizations to join us in creating this paradigm shift in health equity, and we are honored and humbled that Merck and Sanofi have answered the call.”

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