Southern Company Gas and the Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation are donating $1 million toward academic expansion and efforts to provide greater equity in healthcare led by Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM).
This gift, part of MSM’s Expansion into the Future Initiative, enables the medical school to strengthen its academic offerings and research enterprise, including its budding Natural Products Research Center and the development of an Emerging Pathogens Research Team focusing on topics such as coronaviruses.
“As our communities continue to be impacted by the coronavirus and work to recover from what has become a global health crisis, Southern Company Gas recognizes the immediate need to support institutions seeking solutions while addressing critical health equity issues,” said Kim Greene, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company Gas. “We support MSM’s cutting-edge research and education model, which fosters greater inclusion in not only healthcare, but ultimately our entire society.”
According to a study led by amfAR and the Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access and data from the U.S. Census Bureau, black Americans represent 13.4% of the U.S. population, but counties with higher black populations account for more than half of all COVID-19 cases and almost 60% of deaths. MSM’s efforts to improve diversity in the medical profession, research into health challenges facing minority communities and service to underserved communities play a critical role in addressing racial inequality.
The academic expansion initiative will provide the campus community with state-of-the-art facilities that effectively integrate technology and foster collaborative learning among students, faculty, and staff. It will also support MSM’s research portfolio focused on infectious diseases such as COVID-19, as well as cancer, cardiovascular disease and neuroscience, among other topics critical to improving the health of underserved communities.
“Our existing virology research’s success may help to establish an even larger U.S and global structure examining emerging pathogens of all types and how we can identify and address them.,” says Professor Vincent C. Bond, chair of the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Immunology at MSM. “Our integrative approach to health care allows us to translate the discoveries made in labs, to the bedside of patients, and then to the communities we serve.”
Recently celebrating its 45th anniversary, MSM has made monumental strides increasing the class size of each of its degree-granting programs, including the Medical program, Graduate Education in Biomedical Sciences, Graduate Education in Public Health and Physician Assistant Studies.
Higher education plays a critical role in driving economic wellbeing; however, studies have shown one approach to ending the cycle of poverty caused by our nation’s long history of racial inequity considers quality education and healthcare. This is why earlier this year Southern Company Gas and its parent company, Southern Company, announced plans to donate $50 million to historically black universities and colleges to support career readiness and develop future leaders.