The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a three-year, $15 million investment in support of COVID-19 diagnostic testing hubs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The commitment will support up to ten HBCUs participating in the Just Project, a multipronged effort to address the coronavirus pandemic that has disproportionately impacted communities of color. To that end, institutions with medical, veterinary, pharmacy, and agriculture schools will receive funding for critical infrastructure that enables them to provide rapid testing for students, faculty, administrators, and the surrounding community. The project also is working to foster collaboration among HBCUs with respect to best pandemic practices and to build lab and research capacity post-pandemic.
According to the foundation, Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be infected by the virus and to die from COVID-19 than whites and are nearly three times as likely to live in an area with insufficient access to rapid testing.
Initial recipients of the funds include Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida; Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee; Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia; and Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana. The foundation will add up to four additional testing hubs in the coming weeks.
(Image credit: World Health Organization)