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Author: The BCW

Regeneron in Coalition to Improve Health Outcomes for People of African Ancestry

Meharry Medical College, along with partners BCW Member Regeneron Genetics Center® (RGC™), AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and Roche, announced Wednesday the launch of the Together for CHANGE™ (“Changing Healthcare for People of African Ancestry through an InterNational Genomics & Equity”) initiative to create better health care and outcomes for all.

The Together for CHANGE initiative seeks to address inequities in STEM careers and research with a two-pronged approach. First, the Diaspora Human Genomics Institute (DHGI) will establish a grant program to support research and educational capacity in genomics and related fields at Meharry Medical College, as well as broader STEM programs in racially diverse communities for grade school-aged children. Second, in close consultation with the local Black community through listening sessions and ongoing input, the DHGI will help facilitate the building of the largest African ancestry genomics research database, composed of de-identified genomic and phenotypic data from up to 500,000 volunteer participants.

Meharry Medical College, one of the oldest and largest historically Black academic health sciences centers in the U.S., is a co-founder and academic convener of this initiative. The DHGI, a newly chartered non-profit organization, will serve as the governing organization for Together for CHANGE. Data collected from the Together for CHANGE initiative will be secured and managed by the DHGI to ensure the integrity and transparency of all activities of the initiative.

Additionally, the DHGI will form an ethics committee with leaders from the Black community to provide stewardship of the data. Accenture will also provide support as a strategic partner to the DHGI as the program rolls out.

Meharry worked with Regeneron Genetics Center to convene three founding partners for the initiative, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and Roche, and welcome participation from additional partners. Each organization intends to make contributions worth $20 million during the initiative, with Regeneron Genetics Center also undertaking and funding the sequencing of genetic samples. The DHGI launch is underway, with more information about study participation and grants to be available later this year.

“People of African ancestry have been underrepresented in genomics studies, which leads to clinical genetic testing that has less reference data and less confident testing results,” said Aris Baras, M.D., Senior Vice President, Regeneron, and Head of Regeneron Genetics Center. “At RGC, we know that genetic databases function best as global resources when they reflect humanity’s broad spectrum of ethnic and genetic diversity, so that the resulting research and medical innovation may benefit all populations. With one of the most diverse genomic datasets in the world, we are immensely proud to spearhead this impactful initiative that aims to shift the makeup of available genetic data and better equip promising students and researchers to create much-needed medicines of the future.”

More information can be found at

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