UNCF Virtual Summit to Create Pathways for African American Opportunities in the Greater Boston Area Life Sciences Ecosystem

Media Contact

Monique LeNoir UNCF Communications 202.810.0231 monique.lenoir@uncf.org

Developing a robust pipeline of diverse talent to support the life sciences industry

BOSTON—UNCF will host its first-ever Massachusetts Life Sciences Summit virtually on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 11 and 12. The purpose of the event is to create pathways for African American students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to learn about academic and career opportunities in the life sciences. The summit aims to connect HBCU bioscience students and faculty to academic and industry leaders in the Greater Boston area as well as help build a robust community of African Americans participating at all levels within the life sciences ecosystem in the New England region.

The summit is open to undergraduate bioscience majors attending HBCUs, as well as African American graduate students and post-doctoral fellows regardless of what institution they attend. In addition, bioscience faculty members from HBCUs including UNCF-member schools are invited. The virtual program will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a closed viewing platform accessible only to registrants, sponsors and select media guests. After the summit, program sessions will be available on UNCF’s website.

Special guests will include Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito; Dr. Kevin Churchwell, president and chief operating officer, Boston Children’s Hospital; Reshma Kewalramani, president and CEO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Frederick Lowery, senior vice president and president, life sciences, solutions and laboratory, Thermo Fisher Scientific; Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO, BIO-Biotechnology Innovation Organization; and Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF.

The summit’s keynote session will feature a fireside chat between Dr. Tony Coles, chairperson and CEO, Cerevel Therapeutics, and Dr. David Thomas, president, Morehouse College, discussing the need for diversity in the life sciences and essential skills that are needed to be successful in the industry.

Gov. Charlie Baker, who, along with his staff, was instrumental in ensuring this event’s success, said,  “our administration is grateful for the work of UNCF and other partners to create more diversity in the life sciences space and create more pathways for HBCU students. We are committed to ensuring more access to life sciences career opportunities for communities of color, and this summit is an important part of those efforts.”

“We are very pleased to see this partnership come together with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. “This type of public/private partnership helps open doors to our schools and students that are urgently needed and create opportunities for talented, deserving students across our nation. I hope we can do more events like this as we move forward to provide new opportunities for success for HBCU graduates.”

Ron Walker, former Secretary of Labor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and current strategic advisor for UNCF’s New England office said, “We are excited about this groundbreaking event and the opportunity to link the HBCU community with key stakeholders within the academic and industry sectors. As a proud HBCU alumnus from Prairie View A&M University, I know firsthand the great talent that is available at these storied institutions. This summit will create intentional on-ramps for students from HBCUs to use to connect to the growing and thriving Greater Boston life sciences business community. The need is urgent, and we may just have developed the secret sauce to ensure success for both sides of the equation.”

Summit sponsors are: underwriter, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center; national sponsor, Bristol Myers Squibb; presenting sponsor, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; host company sponsors, Biogen and Vertex Pharmaceuticals; corporate and individual sponsors, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Boston Children’s Hospital, The Boston Foundation, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Drs. Erik and Uzo Erlingsson. Community partners include the Office of the Governor, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and The Partnership.

UNCF is committed to making this summit an annual event and looks forward to working with the Massachusetts private and public sectors to ensure that more African Americans can reach their fullest potential in the region’s life sciences industry.

For more information on the Massachusetts Life Sciences Summit, please contact Diego Aviles at diego.aviles@uncf.org or 347.582.5035.




About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.