Spelman College and biotech company IDEAYA Biosciences, Inc., announced a partnership to develop the next generation of African American women leaders in the biotechnology industry.

Through the guiding principles of mentorship and education, the IDEAYA Biosciences/Spelman College Health Science and Biotechnology Program will create a multi-faceted learning platform for students pursuing careers in biotechnology and precision medicine.

The program will include professional internships, a leadership development program and scholarships for selected Spelman students.

“Spelman has a long track record of graduating women who excel in various science disciplines,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president for Spelman College. “Despite the increase of minorities in STEM fields, the number of African American women in the biotechnology industry has not kept pace with changing trends. We are excited to be a part of this partnership that will help shift the rate of women in the biotech industry, a field where they are traditionally underrepresented.”

Students selected to take part in the program will participate in a summer internship at the end of the students’ sophomore year.

“We are ecstatic to partner with Spelman College in this scholarship program which we believe has the opportunity to identify and develop the next generation of female African American CEOs, entrepreneurs, and R&D executives and scientists in the biotechnology industry,” said Yujiro S. Hata, president and CEO, IDEAYA Biosciences.

Support of the interns will continue through the students’ junior and senior years through tuition scholarships, biotechnology specific educational opportunities provided by IDEAYA and biotechnology industry-focused career advice provided through an IDEAYA mentor.

IDEAYA will also provide programmatic support to the Spelman Environmental and Health Sciences Department.

“IDEAYA Biosciences’ mission and strategic plan closely aligns with that of Spelman College,” said Rosalind Gregory-Bass, M.D., chair and associate professor of the Environmental and Health Sciences Department and director of Spelman’s Health Careers Program. “Our students have diverse interests. This opportunity allows them to not only be future scientists and clinicians, but also leaders in the biotech arena. Their knowledge and understanding of precision medicine uniquely positions them to revolutionize medicine in the pursuit of better healthcare outcomes.”

Recent data published by the Biology Innovation Organization indicates that diversity in biotech companies decreases at higher levels of management, especially in larger, more profitable companies.

“As an institution that ranks in the top 10 of all U.S. colleges and universities for the highest number of medical school applications from Black Americans, we are passionate about not only the discovery of new therapeutic options, but the delivery of the treatments as well. 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,” Bass said.

IDEAYA’s goal is to provide financial support and a unique and highly specialized experience for Spelman students with a longer-term objective to identify and develop the next generation of leaders in the biotechnology industry.

There will be an research and development and business/entrepreneurship tracks provided under the IDEAYA Biosciences / Spelman College Health Science and Biotechnology Program.

(Photo: Courtesy of Spelman College)

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