The Just Project
Thermo Fisher Scientific Executive and Omega Psi Phi Member Leads Initiative
to Bring No-Cost COVID-19 Testing to HBCUs
Fred Lowery leads a highly successful, multi-billion dollar business at Thermo Fisher Scientific that supplies essential products and services for the global biotech industry. As the company’s senior vice president and president of Life Sciences Solutions and Laboratory Products, Lowery’s segment of the business took on an even more essential role as a leading supplier of solutions that are used for COVID-19 testing.
The need for frequent testing has grown exponentially in recent months with the need to get people back to work and students back in school. This got Lowery, a Tennessee Technological University alum who was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. through the Chi Lambda Chapter, thinking.
“Thermo Fisher is a strong supporter of STEM education programs, and there is a real need to get students, faculty and staff safely back to school,” said Lowery, who has a passion for community service and philanthropy. “And no where else is that need greater than at historically black colleges and universities. To our team, it made perfect sense to develop a program to support them.”
The program, called The Just Project, supports the efforts of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. by making on-campus, COVID-19 testing available at no cost to all returning students, faculty and staff throughout the 2020-21 school year. The support comes in the form of a $15 million donation of diagnostic instruments, test kits and related supplies by Thermo Fisher to hub schools that will serve as testing centers for their campuses and will also test samples from other HBCUs across the country.
Howard University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, Xavier University of Louisiana and Hampton University will be among the first HBCUs to receive donations. They will be joined by other hub campuses that are expected to participate in the initiative over the next several weeks.
“Our first priority is to ensure a safe and healthy environment on our campuses,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, M.D., president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine. “The support we receive from Thermo Fisher Scientific through The Just Project allows us to offer easy access to COVID-19 testing that is so important to getting our students back to school safely.”
Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University, said, “Historically black colleges and universities have produced talented doctors, public health experts and engineers, many of whom are contributing to the fight against COVID-19. We are grateful to Thermo Fisher for supporting a testing center on our campus, which will allow us to continue to monitor the health of our academic community.”
“Collectively, HBCUs exist to further the goals and aspirations of minorities through higher education, and the mission of the country’s HBCU medical schools is to prepare future health professionals to work toward health equity across the land,” said James E. K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D., president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College. “Thermo Fisher has demonstrated its support for minority higher education and recognition that those communities in the U.S. who have been hardest hit by the pandemic are deserving of every opportunity to continue their academic perseverance.”
The Just Project is named after Ernest Everett Just, Ph.D., founder of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and pioneering biologist, academic and science writer with deep ties to the HBCU community. Just is a prime example of the talented leaders that HBCUs develop, which is yet another reason why Lowery says it is a priority to support them.
“The pandemic has disproportionately affected the Black community, and historically black colleges and universities have taken a leadership role in making testing available in order to safely reopen this fall,” he said. “These schools play an important role in closing the achievement gap in America and consistently train talented STEM professionals who are invaluable to companies like ours seeking to attract top talent and build a more inclusive workplace. Given the value we place on recruiting diverse talent, we have also committed to hiring at least 500 students from these institutions over the next three years.”