From Staff Reports
NASHVILLE, TN — A Massachusetts-based Fortune 500 company is donating diagnostic instruments, test kits and related supplies to conduct COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students at Meharry Medical College.
Meharry is among the first historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to participate in The Just Project by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., headquartered in Waltham, Mass. Also participating are Howard University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Xavier University of Louisiana and Hampton University.
“Collectively, HBCUs exist to further the goals and aspirations of minorities through higher education, and the mission of the country’s HBCU medical schools is to prepare future health professionals to work toward health equity across the land,” said James E. K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D., president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College. “Thermo Fisher has demonstrated its support for minority higher education and recognition that those communities in the U.S. who have been hardest hit by the pandemic are deserving of every opportunity to continue their academic perseverance.”
The Just Project is named for biologist Ernest Everett Just (1883-1941). Thermo Fisher’s donation is valued at $15 million. With annual revenue exceeding $25 billion, its mission is to help make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.
Fred Lowery, senior vice president and president, Life Sciences Solutions and Laboratory Products at Thermo Fisher Scientific said, “The pandemic has disproportionately affected the Black community, and historically black colleges and universities have taken a leadership role in making testing available in order to safely reopen this fall. These schools play an important role in closing the achievement gap in America and consistently train talented STEM professionals who are invaluable to companies like ours seeking to attract top talent and build a more inclusive workplace.”
Lowery added, “Given the value we place on recruiting diverse talent, we have also committed to hiring at least 500 students from these institutions over the next three years.”
Since the pandemic hit, Thermo Fisher increased its production of COVID-19 tests, instruments and supplies, and has been working closely with public and private laboratories to increase this nation’s testing capacity, including mobilizing testing facilities across more than 30 states. The company currently has the capacity to produce more than 10 million tests a week.
As part of The Just Project, the HBCUs’ laboratories, are to provide COVID-19 testing for their campuses and will also test samples from other HBCUs across the country, the company said. HBCUs receiving these donations have committed to use the donated equipment solely to offer COVID-19 testing to HBCU faculty, staff and students at no cost.
“Our first priority is to ensure a safe and healthy environment on our campuses,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, M.D., president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine. “The support we receive from Thermo Fisher Scientific through The Just Project allows us to offer easy access to COVID-19 testing that is so important to getting our students back to school safely.”
Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said, “Historically black colleges and universities have produced talented doctors, public health experts and engineers, many of whom are contributing to the fight against COVID-19.”
Thermo Fisher has more than 26,000 employees in the United States and Canada who work in more than 400 offices, distribution centers, manufacturing sites and its global headquarters in Waltham. Thermo Fisher is ranked as No. 124 among the Fortune 500. Globally, the company employs 75,000 people.