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East Hanover-based Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation this week announced a planned 10-year collaboration with Coursera, the National Medical Association, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Morehouse School of Medicine and 26 additional Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Medical Schools (HBCUs) to co-create programs that address the root causes of systemic disparities in health outcomes and create greater diversity, equity and inclusion across the research and development ecosystem.

Leaders from these companies, organizations, and learning institutions have signed a pledge to co-develop programs focused on building trust in the health care system with communities of color and making measurable progress towards health equity.

Working together with the communities they aim to impact, the collaboration will focus on improving access to high-quality education, technology, improved health outcomes, and promising jobs; increasing clinical trial and clinical trial investigator diversity; addressing inherent bias in the data standards used to diagnose and treat disease; and finding actionable solutions to environmental and climate issues that disproportionately affect health among communities of color.

“At Novartis, we envision a world with equity in health for all. Just as there are a multitude of factors and causes behind racial disparities in health and education, there is no single solution to this critical challenge. It will take the concerted, urgent action of diverse stakeholders across the public and private sectors,” said Vas Narasimhan, MD, CEO of Novartis. “We are honored and humbled to work together with these organizations to build enduring solutions to some of the most pressing, deeply rooted, and historic challenges in the United States, and we invite other like-minded companies and organizations to join us in creating this paradigm shift in health equity.”

Over an initial period of ten years, the collaboration will focus on four key areas:

  • Enable the next generation of Black and African American leaders by creating equitable access to high quality education and professional development for future leaders, in health science, technology and business-related fields.
  • Support the establishment of Digitally Enabled Clinical Trial Centers of Excellence, managed and led by clinical researchers of color, to build trust, increase diversity and inclusivity in clinical trials, and contribute to improved health outcomes for people of color.
  • Research and validate existing data standards that drive diagnosis, clinical trial endpoints and population health policy to identify areas for increased inclusivity and ensure accurate data collection and unbiased treatment decisions.
  • Establish Digitally Enabled Research Centers on the impact of the environment and climate change on health to identify solutions to environmental and climate issues that disproportionately affect communities of color.

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