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Effort To Study The Genetic Health Variants That Affect Black People Are Being Pushed By HBCUs

Scientists are launching an ambitious project to collect genetic material from 500,000 people of African ancestry, creating the world's largest genomic database for this population. The aim is to construct a comprehensive "reference genome" to better understand genetic variations among Black individuals, potentially leading to the development of new medicines and diagnostic tests, as well as addressing health disparities.

The initiative is a collaboration between HBCU Meharry Medical College, Regeneron Genetics Center, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and Roche, with funding provided by pharmaceutical companies. The Diaspora Human Genomics Institute, a nonprofit founded by Meharry, will manage the data.

Currently, less than 2% of genetic research focuses on individuals of African descent. This project seeks to address this imbalance and improve our understanding of genetic diversity among African populations.

The project involves recruiting participants from various sources, including Meharry Medical College, other historically Black colleges and universities, and the University of Zambia. Genetic sequencing will be conducted by the Regeneron Genetics Center, and the data will be stored at the Diaspora Human Genomics Institute.

The initiative also includes a grant program to support genomics research and education at Meharry and STEM programs for children in diverse communities. Each pharmaceutical company involved intends to contribute $20 million toward these efforts over ten years.

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Link: NBCNews


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