NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — President and CEO of Meharry Medical College, Dr. James Hildreth, explained historically black colleges and universities face challenges others in higher education don’t fully share as HBCU’s serve a greater number of minority students.

“They have a higher burden of chronic diseases which makes them susceptible to very severe diseases and death,” Hildreth says.

Add to that, funding is typically only a fraction of predominantly white institutions making campus-wide COVID-19 testing a challenge. “Many of these colleges don’t have the resources to test all of their students like the majority schools.”

In an effort to bridge the gap, the Just Project – funded by Thermo Fisher Scientific – is supplying test kits and related supplies ensuring COVID-19 testing can be offered to students, faculty, and staff. Meharry is one of four black medical schools that will serve as a regional test site for HBCU’s across the country. “The students will get their test administered,” Hildreth explained. “They get shipped to Meharry. The results are transmitted locally to those schools, so they can take the necessary steps and follow up.”

Fred Lowery, Senior Vice President and President, Life Sciences Solutions and Laboratory Products Thermo Fisher Scientific, said safety is a top priority. It is as critical as keeping HBCU students on campus to help further close the achievement gap in America. “We felt like it was a great opportunity to enable those universities to be a focal point for driving testing, communicating that testing is working, and really being a beacon for the entire black community.”
The Just Project will supply testing capabilities for both the fall and spring semesters.