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Historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country have been at the forefront of leading research surrounding racial health disparities. Two HBCUs recently received a significant boost to advance their efforts. The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Tuskegee University were awarded a multi-million dollar grant for the expansion of their biomedical research programs.

The $13.7 million endowment—provided through the National Institutes of Health’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation initiative—will recruit a dozen new faculty members whose work sits at the intersection of healthcare and diversity and inclusion. These thought leaders will focus on neuroscience, cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes research. In their roles, they will lead groundbreaking research through an inclusive lens.

Charlotte P. Morris, who serves as President of Tuskegee University, says the collaborative effort between the Alabama-based institutions will instrumentally shape the landscape of medical research and address gaps that exist within the realm of healthcare. “Tuskegee University and UAB have longstanding and productive partnerships in research and the development of faculty scientists,” she said in a statement. “This NIH FIRST grant is an excellent opportunity to build on our years of work together. We are excited to be a part of this important initiative to nurture a culture of inclusive excellence among the faculty at both our institutions while helping ensure the success of a new generation of researchers.” UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine Dean and Senior Vice President for Medicine Selwyn Vickers, M.D. added the program will cultivate “a community of scientists committed to inclusive excellence by recruiting early-career faculty committed to promoting diversity and inclusion while addressing health disparities.”

Amid the global pandemic, several HBCUs have received endowments to support their medical research programs. Last year, Morehouse College was awarded $40 million to help fight the pandemic in underserved communities.


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