Morehouse School of Medicine has received a donation of $2 million to create a health institute focused on eradicating health disparities and inequalities.
The gift comes from the Croel Family Foundation, a nonprofit launched by Morehouse College graduate Jon Croel and his wife, Donna, to support global equity and societal impact. Additionally, the Croels have committed to helping raise an additional $18 million toward the goal of $20 million needed to launch the David Satcher Global Health Equity Institute.
The announcement was made during the Dr. David Satcher Global Health Equity Summit Wednesday at the National Center for Human and Civil Rights. The summit brought together global health equity leaders and experts to discuss ongoing efforts to eliminate health disparities.
The Croels made their donation in honor of Morehouse School of Medicine professor Dr. Barney Graham, who will serve as the founder and inaugural director of the institute.
Dr. Barney Graham, a clinical trials physician, immunologist and virologist, worked until 2021 at the National Institutes of Health on developing vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus or RSV and other viruses. His work on RSV lead to the creation of an RSV vaccine and vaccines against COVID-19 as well. Graham joined Morehouse School of Medicine as a professor last May.
Also on Thursday, Graham received the first Dr. David Satcher Award, which was given to him for his decades-long efforts to advance equity in research, particularly in vaccine development.
“We chose the Global Health Equity Institute because we need all the brains to be involved in solving problems like Dr. Graham,” Jon Croel said. “If there are entire populations who we’re not utilizing, then I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice and slowing our own progress.”
Morehouse School of Medicine President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice said, “Our goal is to ensure that when someone looks back 10 years back from now, we will have a significant reduction in health disparities. We want to be close to a time where people are able to individually and collectively say that they’re able to achieve their best health.”
Montgomery Rice stated the further goal of establishing a $150 million endowment to run the David Satcher Global Health Equity Institute.
The school’s current endowment is around $140 million, but about 70% of these funds are restricted to research, according to Montgomery Rice. The $2 million gift provides the chance to invest in creative opportunities, without restrictions, that align with mission and vision of the institute, she said.
The summit and institute are both named in honor of Dr. David Satcher, who formerly served as both the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Surgeon General, the only person to do so. Satcher also served as president of Morehouse School of Medicine from 2004 to 2006 and is the founding director of the school’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute.
During the summit, local and national health leaders spoke on research targeting global health disparities, the future of global health equity, the ethical implications of artificial intelligence in health and advancing health equity and justice. Morehouse hosted the summit in partnership with KPMG, a global professional services firm.
“With the institute, what I’m looking forward to the most is meeting young students and seeing if I can help them find the place they belong to do their best work, to make the biggest possible impact,” Graham said. “I would like to lead and help as many students as possible.”
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