Hogan Lovells counsels Meharry and The Diaspora Human Genomics Institute in academic-industry collaboration to promote genomics research equity

Hogan Lovells counsels Meharry and The Diaspora Human Genomics Institute in academic-industry collaboration to promote genomics research equity

Press releases | 31 October 2023

Washington, D.C., 31 October 2023 – Global law firm Hogan Lovells advised Meharry Medical College and its affiliate The Diaspora Human Genomics Institute (DHGI) on their collaboration with pharmaceutical industry partners Regeneron Genetics Center, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and Roche known as the Together for CHANGE initiative (T4C).  T4C was announced 18 October 2023 at Meharry’s Nashville, TN, campus. The groundbreaking collaboration seeks to address inequities in STEM careers and medical research with a two-pronged approach: growing the pathways of Black research talent and building a genomic/phenotype research database with data from historically underrepresented African-ancestry participants.

The firm worked with Meharry and the DHGI to negotiate the complex collaboration and other agreements on which the T4C initiative is built, helping the organizations to navigate complex intellectual property, data privacy, governance, tax, and regulatory matters in the collaboration. Hogan Lovells will continue to advise the DHGI as it moves forward with T4C. More about the project can be found here and here.

Meharry, with support from its pharmaceutical partners, launched the DHGI to enable better understanding of the genetic variants that affect the African-ancestry population, in order to ultimately reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes for all. The DHGI will lead in building the largest African-ancestry genomics research database in the world, composed of de-identified genomic and phenotypic data from up to 500,000 volunteer participants.

Additionally, T4C will establish a grant program dedicated to supporting research and educational capacity in genomics and related fields at Meharry and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), as well as STEM programs at K-12 schools across global Black communities. 

James E.K. Hildreth Sr., Ph.D., M.D., President and CEO of Meharry, noted: “Historically, African Americans have been – and continue to be – underrepresented in scientific and medical research, as well as in STEM careers, negatively impacting both health outcomes and career opportunities for this population. Working with our local community and biopharmaceutical partners, we are eager to bring to life a vision of more equitable health care through the Together for CHANGE initiative.”

Hogan Lovells Corporate & Finance partner Michael Williams, who led the firm’s legal efforts alongside counsel Michael Snow, added: “We are profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to advise Meharry and the DHGI in this transformational initiative. Since early 2021, our clients, with generous support from their pharma partners, have worked diligently to advance this initiative to promote greater representation of the African-ancestry population in clinical research, ultimately leading to better health outcomes for all. We are eager to continue working with the DHGI and its partners and collaborators on the pivotal work still to be done to advance T4C.” 

In addition to Williams and Snow, the initiative received significant contributions by associate Nicole Banton. Additionally, the cross-practice team included partners Cliff Stromberg, Melissa Bianchi, Howard Silver, Bill Ferreira (all Washington, D.C.), and Zenas Choi (Northern Virginia); counsel Donald DePass (Washington, D.C.); senior associates Katherine Bastian (Washington, D.C.) and Rachel Shelbourne (Northern Virginia); and associates Eli Mekonen (Washington, D.C.), Nicole Park, and Cedric Duquene (both New York).

About Meharry Medical College

Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Meharry Medical College is the nation’s largest private, independent historically Black academic health sciences center dedicated to educating physicians, dentists, researchers, and health policy experts. Founded in 1876 as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College, Meharry was the first medical school in the South for African Americans. It was chartered separately in 1915.

Today, Meharry includes schools of medicine, dentistry, graduate studies and applied computational sciences and is home to The Institute for Global Health Equity and Center for Health Policy. Degrees include Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), Master of Health Science (M.H.S.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

Meharry is a United Methodist Church related institution. A 2010 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine ranked Meharry as one of the nation’s top five producers of primary care physicians. Meharry is also a leading producer of African Americans with Ph.Ds. in biomedical sciences.

In addition to providing quality professional health care education, exemplary patient care, and compassionate community outreach, Meharry Medical College produces the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, a public health journal.