Building Bioinformatics Program for Students at Historically Black University

Building Bioinformatics Program for Students at Historically Black University

Monday, November 22, 2021 - 8:25am

CONTENT: Blog

 The United Health Foundation is collaborating with Harris-Stowe State University to help address the gap in the number of diverse college students trained in biomedical sciences.

The United Health Foundation has awarded a $2 million, three-year grant to Harris-Stowe State University to create a bioinformatics program for undergraduate students at the historically Black university located in St. Louis. 

HSSU will develop a new undergraduate program to train students for careers as bioinformatics professionals. The university will use the support to:

  • Develop curricula combining coursework and experiential learning opportunities. 

  • Expose high school students in surrounding school districts to the field of bioinformatics through a summer bioinformatics “boot camp” program. 

  • Offer academic scholarships for up to 25 students each year.

Building a More Diverse Health Workforce

There is a substantial gap in the number of diverse college students trained in biomedical sciences. Black, Hispanic and Native American people account for only 7.1% of the employed biological/biomedical and life sciences workforce, according to the National Science Foundation.

“The United Health Foundation is honored to collaborate with Harris-Stowe State University to increase the diversity of the life sciences workforce. We are excited about HSSU training students who will make discoveries, develop therapies and advance health care for all,” said Patrick Quinn, CEO of UnitedHealthcare in Missouri, a UnitedHealth Group company. 

What Is Bioinformatics?

Bioinformatics is an emerging life sciences field combining science, physics, math and biology to aid in the diagnosis, treatment and discovery of new therapeutic advancements. For example, bioinformatics was used in computer analysis on the Human Genome Project, which mapped the human DNA system. 

Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing field of study, and it is vital for all people to play a role in its advancement,” said Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith, interim president of HSSU. “This new program will help Harris-Stowe State University build on its work in training students for high-tech careers, as well as continue to fulfill our mission of serving historically underrepresented students.” 

Learn more about UnitedHealth Group’s commitment to health equity: Sustainability - UnitedHealth Group

CATEGORY: Education