Spelman College and IDEAYA Biosciences Inc. jointly announced a new partnership to develop the next generation of female African-American leaders in the biotechnology industry.
The Spelman College and IDEAYA Biosciences Health Science and Biotechnology Program will offer a professional internship, a development program, and scholarship for selected Spelman students who are considering a career in biotechnology.
Rosalind Gregory-Bass, M.D., associate professor of environmental and health sciences and director of Spelman’s Health Careers Program, said IDEAYA Biosciences’ mission and strategic plan closely align with that of Spelman.
And indeed, the partnership with IDEAYA is in keeping with Spelman’s track record of teaming up with industry and academic institutions to enhance the college’s offerings in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
The school currently has partnerships with MIT’s Media Lab, the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the Broad Institute, which brings together researchers in medicine, biology, chemistry, computation, engineering, and mathematics from MIT, Harvard, Harvard-affiliated hospitals, and collaborators around the world, to advance our understanding of the biology and treatment of human disease.
Dr. Gregory-Bass also sees the relationship with IDEAYA, an oncology-focused biotech company based in San Francisco, as both timely and “pivotal” in several ways.
“Cancer health disparities among people of African descent are highly significant. The desire to be at the forefront of oncology-focused precision medicine is of extreme importance to the population we serve. One key strategy to overcome these disparities is through Precision Medicine Technology,” she said.
“As an institution with one of the nation’s highest number of medical school applications from Black Americans, we are passionate about not only the discovery on new therapeutic options, but the delivery of the treatments as well,” she added. “The technology being developed at IDEAYA will be pivotal to that end. Spelman students and faculty can significantly contribute to these efforts and positively impact the company, overall.”
Under the new partnership, IDEAYA will sponsor Spelman students for a summer internship at the end of their sophomore year, and will continue to support the interns through their junior and senior years with tuition scholarships, biotechnology-specific educational opportunities, and biotechnology industry-focused career and graduate school advice through an IDEAYA mentor.
The joint program will offer an R&D and Business/Entrepreneurship track as well. IDEAYA will also provide programmatic support to the Spelman Environmental and Health Sciences Department.
IDEAYA’s choice of Spelman as a partner in developing “African-American CEOs, entrepreneurs, and R&D executives and scientists in the biotechnology industry” makes sense.
“We are ecstatic to partner with Spelman College in this scholarship,” declared Yujiro S. Hata, IDEAYA’s president and chief executive officer, in an official statement.
Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in STEM. It boasts such renowned alumnae as global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and former Acting Surgeon General Audrey Forbes Manley M.D.
The U.S. Department of Defense recently designated the school a “Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM.”