Spelman College is on a mission to address the lack of racial and gender diversity in STEM. The Atlanta-based institution has unveiled a new initiative designed to increase the representation of Black women in the biotechnology space.

The HBCU has joined forces with IDEAYA Biosciences—a biotechnology company centered on oncology—for the effort. Through the initiative—dubbed the IDEAYA Biosciences/Spelman College Health Science and Biotechnology Program—Spelman students will have access to resources and tools to further their knowledge surrounding disease diagnosis and prevention and will be aligned with internship opportunities to build a solid foundation for careers in precision medicine and biotech. Select students who are a part of the program that are facing financial hardships will be awarded scholarships.

“IDEAYA Biosciences’ mission and strategic plan closely aligns with that of Spelman College,” Rosalind Gregory-Bass, M.D., chair and associate professor of the Environmental and Health Sciences Department at Spelman said in a statement. “Our students have diverse interests. This opportunity allows them to not only be future scientists and clinicians, but also leaders in the biotech arena. Their knowledge and understanding of precision medicine uniquely positions them to revolutionize medicine in the pursuit of better healthcare outcomes.”

Yujiro S. Hata, who serves as President and CEO of IDEAYA Biosciences, says the partnership with Spelman will be instrumental in empowering the next generation of biotech leaders. “We are ecstatic to partner with Spelman College in this scholarship program which we believe has the opportunity to identify and develop the next generation of female African American CEOs, entrepreneurs, and R&D executives and scientists in the biotechnology industry,” he said in a statement.

Programs like the one being led by Spelman and IDEAYA Biosciences are needed. According to the Los Angeles Times, Black people account for a mere 3 percent of the biotech workforce.

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