Thermo Fisher 
Scientific – Our Work is a Story 
of Commitment

by Savoy Staff

By Fred Lowery, Senior Vice President and President, Customer Channels, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus is continuing to disproportionately devastate communities of color. African Americans are dying at twice the rate of white Americans. Long standing social and health disparities, coupled with higher rates of underlying health conditions and lack of equitable health care, put people of color at higher risk. While progress has been made to narrow the gap in access to coverage, the road to equitable healthcare is far from over. And so is our fight against COVID-19, especially when it comes to those bearing the brunt of this crisis.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has been involved in global effort to mitigate the spread SARS-CoV-2 since the beginning; our COVID-19 test was one of the first to be granted Emergency Use Authorization from the Food & Drug Administration in March. We have been ramping up test production and now have the capacity to produce more than 20 million tests per week. We made a commitment early on to ensure that increasing access to COVID-19 tests included those hit the hardest: communities of color.

We were also thinking about the students in those communities and how we could safely get them back to the classroom, particularly at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). For more than 150 years, HBCUs have been beacons of hope for the Black community and a path of upward mobility. But the more than 100 HBCUs around the country faced significant challenges as they debated whether it would be safe to welcome back students to campus this past fall.

Many HBCUs did not have the resources or infrastructure to switch to an entirely virtual learning environment. And for many HBCU students, the lack of access to reliable internet meant remote learning was simply not a possibility. The need was clear to return to campus; yet the financial burden to ramp up and provide frequent testing was prohibitive for many schools.

We launched The Just Project in August, and donated more than $25 million in diagnostic equipment, test kits, supplies and training to enable HBCUs to offer no-cost COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff through the 2020-2021 school year. We named this ambitious initiative after Ernest Everett Just, an HBCU graduate, African American biologist and early 1900s pioneer in science.

HBCUs have consistently produced talented graduates, including doctors, lawyers and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals. Of African American engineers, more than 40 percent are HBCU graduates. These schools play an important role in closing the achievement gap in America and those graduates are invaluable to companies like ours seeking to attract top talent and build a more inclusive workplace. As part of The Just Project, we’ve also committed to hiring 500 HBCU graduates over the next three years.

Thermo Fisher has always had a focus on supporting education, in particular STEM programs, so launching an initiative to support the testing efforts of HBCUs was a natural fit. To date, eight HBCUs– Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, Xavier University of Louisiana, Hampton University, Tuskegee University, Florida A&M University and Texas Southern University–have signed on to The Just Project and will serve as testing centers that will process samples from HBCUs across the U.S.

HBCUs and their presidents have taken a leadership role during this pandemic, proving their resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges. Several of their administrators have described our partnership as a “game changer” that has had an immediate impact, allowing them to remain operational. And now, other HBCUs are asking how they, too, can get involved. We are proud that The Just Project is continuing to grow as we educate future generations of leaders who will help us prevent the next public health crisis.


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