Harris-Stowe State University Awarded $2 Million From United Health Foundation

In Summary

The three-year grant to HSSU will fund up to 75 undergraduate scholarships and help increase the number of minority students engaged in biomedical sciences.

The United Health Foundation awarded a $2 million three-year grant to Harris-Stowe State University to create a bioinformatics program for undergraduate students. 

Bioinformatics is an emerging field that combines science, physics, math and biology to aid in the diagnosis, treatment and discovery of new therapeutic advancements, according to the United Health Foundation. 

Related: Dillard University Receives $5 Million for Civil Rights, Other Internships

In a press release from the HSSU, the St. Louis HBCU will be tasked with developing training for students in the bioinformatics career. 

“An example of bioinformatics is the use of computer analysis on the Human Genome Project, which has recorded the three billion basic pairs of the human DNA system,” the release states. 

HSSU will use the support to: 

  • Develop new curricula combining coursework and experiential learning opportunities 
  • Expose high school students in surrounding school districts to the field of bioinformatics through a summer bioinformatics “boot camp” program 
  • Offer academic scholarships for up to 25 students each year 

Related: Morehouse Teams Up With Google To Create Tech To Combat Police Bias

The interim president of HSSU, Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith, shares her thoughts on the new opportunity and the benefits it will have on students. 

“In the past decade, Harris-Stowe State University has emerged as a leader in training students for high-tech careers. This new program will help us to build on that important work, as well as continue to fulfill our mission of serving historically underrepresented students,” the release read. 

The United Health Foundation states that studies from National Science Foundation show a substantial gap in diverse college students trained in biomedical sciences, with minority students making up only 7.1% employed in the field.  

CEO of United Healthcare in Missouri, Patrick Quinn, gave his thoughts on the new partnership. He hopes it will encourage increased interest from students to pursue this career path. 

Related: Tuskegee University and UAB Receive $13.7 Million for Faculty Recruitment

“The United Health Foundation is honored to collaborate with Harris-Stowe State University to increase the diversity of the life sciences workforce. We are excited about HSSU training students who will make discoveries, develop therapies and advance health care for all,” Quinn writes. 

The United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative has given out over 3,000 scholarships to students studying medicine and public health across the U.S. since 2007. These scholars come from multiple partnerships with nine different for-profit and nonprofit civic organizations. 

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