Icahn Mount Sinai and historically Black medical school Meharry partner to address racism, improve diversity in science

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Meharry Medical College in Nashville announced a partnership on Tuesday to address racism in medicine and to increase diversity and inclusion.

Icahn Mount Sinai, part of New York City’s largest academic medical network, is working with historically Black medical schools and higher education institutions, of which Meharry is the oldest and largest, to address the shortage of Black physicians and scientists in the U.S. and the challenges they face to practicing. The partnership also hopes to improve on the current understanding of various diseases, human genetics and neuroscience and how they affect the Black community.

“With a strong foundation in health disparities research in critically important areas for the Black population, including sickle cell disease, diabetes, and cancer, Meharry Medical College will be an excellent partner with whom we can share clinical knowledge and enrich each institution’s educational, training and research enterprise,” said Dennis S. Charney, the dean of Icahn Mount Sinai, in a press release.

RELATED: CommonSpirit, Morehouse medical school launch initiative to increase Black doctors nationwide

The collaboration is intended to facilitate an exchange of resources between schools that could include a joint graduate or medical educational program, research and interinstitutional studies.

“The engagement we envision is a faculty-to-faculty partnership between the two institutions in the form of collaborative grants, shared mentoring of graduate students, post docs, and faculty, and joint research projects in areas where there are strong opportunities for synergy. Through these joint activities, we hope to increase capacity and diversity of the biomedical workforce by lowering barriers to access, and strengthening our mentorship and training models,” said Reginald W. Miller, dean for research operations and infrastructure at Icahn Mount Sinai who is leading the initiative.

Earlier this May, HCA Healthcare announced it would give $10 million over the next three years to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, among others, to promote diversity in healthcare.

Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health also announced a 10-year, $100 million partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine in December. They said the partnership was aimed at providing more opportunities for Black and other underrepresented physicians and improve COVID-19 testing, care delivery and vaccine allocation for vulnerable populations.

The efforts come amid increasing awareness about glaring social healthcare inequities highlighted by the global pandemic as well as a national conversation about systemic racism. In December, dozens of corporations and organizations joined the OneTen commitment to hire a million Black Americans over the next decade. Among healthcare organizations that took the pledge are Cleveland Clinic, Humana, Intermountain Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and Merck.