Ernest E. Just Life Sciences Initiative

Program Overview

It is essential that our life sciences ecosystem values and embraces a diverse workforce. It is not only about equal representation, it is about the strong business case, the bottom line, and ensuring the next big breakthroughs to save lives and improve patient outcomes. That’s why here in Massachusetts, we know that the strongest life sciences sector is a diverse one.

The Massachusetts life Sciences Center (MLSC) has partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) on the Ernest E. Just Life Sciences Initiative , which creates internship opportunities in the Boston-area for students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Students gain valuable experience and a network of professionals to pave a path for a fulfilling career in the life sciences.

UNCF will help provide transportation, housing, and other vital wrap around services to ensure students have a welcoming, memorable, and rewarding time in Boston.

Host organizations that meet the eligibility criteria for the MLSC’s Internship Challenge can seek reimbursement from the MLSC for wages paid to their intern(s).

Impact from HBCUs

Black professionals face underrepresentation in STEM fields, but HBCUs help close that gap. In 2019, 27 percent of all Black STEM graduates received HBCU degrees. Between 1995-2004, 46 percent of Black woman STEM degree-holders graduated from an HBCU. At the doctoral level, nearly 30 percent of Black graduates with a doctorate in science or engineering attended an HBCU.

HBCU students have an advantage long past graduation. A whopping 25 percent of African American graduates with STEM degrees come from HBCUs. Eight HBCUs were among the top 20 institutions to award the most science and engineering bachelor’s degrees to black graduates from 2008-2012.

Though HBCUs make up only three percent of the country’s colleges and universities, they enroll 10 percent of all African American students and produce almost 20 percent of all African American graduates.

Impact on the Ecosystem

In the first two years, the initiative created 42 meaningful internship opportunities with 13 life sciences companies and research institutions throughout the Boston-area. This initiative provides students an opportunity to spend 10 weeks interning at life sciences organizations of all sizes.

In addition to internship funding, the MLSC is proud to have supported the Ernest E. Just Life Sciences Initiative with $100,000 to support program implementation.

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If you have further questions regarding the application process, please email: