Thursday, October 19, 2023
Meharry Medical College, in partnership with Regeneron Genetics Center® (RGC™), AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and Roche, has introduced the 'Together for CHANGE™' initiative. This initiative, which stands for "Changing Healthcare for People of African Ancestry through an International Focus on Genomics and Equity," has the core objective of improving healthcare and outcomes for all.
The 'Together for CHANGE' initiative employs a two-pronged strategy to address disparities in STEM careers and research. Firstly, the Diaspora Human Genomics Institute (DHGI) will establish a grant program to support genomics research and educational capacity at Meharry Medical College, as well as extend STEM programs to ethnically diverse communities, including school-aged children. Secondly, the DHGI will, in close consultation with the local Black community through listening sessions and ongoing feedback, facilitate the creation of a substantial research database focused on African ancestry genomics.
This database will comprise de-identified genomic and phenotypic data obtained from up to 500,000 volunteer participants. DHGI, a newly established non-profit organization, will serve as the governing body for the 'Together for CHANGE' initiative, overseeing all its activities to ensure transparency and integrity. An ethics committee with representatives from the Black community will also be established by DHGI to ensure responsible data stewardship. Accenture will provide essential strategic support as the program unfolds.
The DHGI launch is currently underway, and additional details regarding study participation and grants will be made available later this year. The primary aim of the initiative is to tackle disparities in STEM careers and research by supporting genomics education and research capacity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and expanding STEM programs in minority communities, particularly among children. Furthermore, the DHGI will play a crucial role in creating a comprehensive research database focused on African ancestry genomics, enhancing our knowledge of health and genetic factors within this population.