USA – Gilead Sciences is working on health equity through education equity with a new US$20 million initiative from its philanthropy arm., Endpoints News has reported.

Thirteen US organizations are receiving the first Gilead Foundation’s “Creating Possible Fund” grants with a focus on building a pipeline of Black health leaders.

The goal is not only to directly work to recruit and encourage healthcare and medical careers but also to spur more Black educators and mentors and bolster education.

Only 2% of teachers in the US are Black males and only 4% of physicians with MDs are Black males, said Kate Wilson, executive director of the Gilead Foundation. And those statistics haven’t changed in decades.

“Representation matters and people need to see themselves represented in their physicians,” she said.

If we want to try to address some of the health inequities experienced by underserved populations, we need more Black physicians and more Black healthcare providers. And in order to do that, we also need more Black teachers.”

The funding will be spent across a range of the grant recipients’ efforts in communities across California, as well as in Georgia, Illinois, Alabama, and Virginia.

Wilson offered several groups as examples of the work it intends. Xavier University of Louisiana, which is the No. 1 college sending Black undergraduates on to become doctors, is using its funding for a pre-college program for 1,000 students to help them tap into STEM education and advanced courses.

Another group is Pulse of Perseverance in Chicago, run by three physicians who met as undergrads at Xavier.

The cardiac anesthesiologist and two OB/GYNs agreed back then that when they became successful, they would reach back and help upcoming Black male students with mentorship and support, Wilson said.

The third grantee Wilson noted is the Kingmakers of Oakland in California, which is working with a community of educators, family, students, government officials, and community leaders to change the elementary, middle, and high school educational systems that inhibit Black boys from reaching their full potential.

So that’s the connections we’re trying to build and scale that pipeline or lifeline, if you will, of Black health leaders,” she said.

We need them to feel a sense of belonging at an early age … so that students feel that they belong in college and that they deserve to be there. And then that they have the inner resolve, confidence, strength, and sense of identity to succeed, and in post-college programs to go into the health and STEM fields.”

Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences, Inc has acquired MiroBio, a privately held UK-based biotechnology company focused on restoring immune balance with agonists targeting immune inhibitory receptors, for approximately US$405 million in cash.

The acquisition provides Gilead with MiroBio’s proprietary discovery platform and entire portfolio of immune inhibitory receptor agonists.

MiroBio’s lead investigational antibody, MB272, is a selective agonist of immune inhibitory receptor B- and T-Lymphocyte Attenuator (BTLA) and has entered Phase 1 clinical trials.

In other news, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has committed US$46 million investment through the Accelerate Precision Health program to support four historically black medical colleges (HBMCs) over the next five years.

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