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Howard University is furthering its efforts to conduct research and combat health disparities that disproportionately affect the Black community. The Washington, D.C.-based HBCU recently received a grant to focus on sickle cell disease education and outreach.

The $42,000 endowment—gifted by the Walter Brownley Trust Bank of America, N.A.—will go towards Howard University’s Department of Pediatrics and Child Health. The funds will support a program dubbed LIFE (Learning Is Fundamental for Everyone) with Sickle Cell Disease which will work towards supporting youngsters with the disease. Among the initiatives under the project include educational workshops for families, transportation assistance for those who need treatment and other resources.

Dr. Sohail Rana, a professor at Howard’s College of Medicine and the LIFE initiative’s administrator, says the program will be instrumental in removing barriers to adequate healthcare. “Most sickle cell disease patients have low socioeconomic status, lack social support, and face many barriers for achieving optimal medical care and educational achievement,” he said in a statement. “The condition can also result in brain complications that place youth at high risk for limited educational achievement. This grant will help us ensure that children and youth with sickle cell disease are fully connected to available resources in the school system and in the larger community.”

Programs like LIFE are needed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 13 African American babies is born with the sickle cell trait. In Washington, D.C. nearly 1,500 children have sickle cell disease.

News about the donation comes weeks after the university received $10 million from the Karsh Family Foundation to benefit an initiative dubbed the Bison STEM Scholars Program which was designed to expose youth to career paths in STEM. The donation was Howard University’s largest one to date.


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