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The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) has announced an $8.7 million award from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Over the next four years, the multimillion-dollar award will be used to create a consortium aimed at identifying and educating individuals from communities that are underrepresented in public health, informatics, and data science over the next four years.

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“Diversity in health care technology is vital to ensuring better health outcomes for everyone, and PHIT4DC is a major step toward preparing the District’s minority populations for the task,” shared UDC President Ronald Mason Jr. “PHIT’s goals align with UDC’s mission to serve the needs of the D.C. community to produce lifelong learners who are transformative leaders. This effort will open avenues for better job opportunities and cultivate a robust, sustainable public health workforce.”

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s Public Health Informatics & Technology  (PHIT) workforce development program seeks to train more than 4,000 minority students over a four-year period.

Public Health Informatics & Technology (PHIT) consortia members will be responsible for developing curricula, recruiting and training participants, securing internship opportunities, and assisting in career placement.

The D.C. consortium, titled PHIT4DC, will be led by the University of the District of Columbia and includes Howard University, the District of Columbia Primary Care Association, Government of District of Columbia, Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients, and Zane Networks, LLC (ZaneNet). The consortium will leverage the strengths of the PHIT4DC members as they share and learn best practices. They will also work collaboratively to broaden the program’s exposure and credibility throughout DC by avoiding duplicative efforts and achieving mutually beneficial goals to create a minority healthcare informatics workforce.

According to UDC, the larger $73 million project targets 10 minority-serving institutions funded through the American Rescue Plan. Other higher education institutions named in the award include Bowie State University; California State University, Long Beach Research Foundation; Dominican College of Blauvelt, Inc.; Jackson State University; Norfolk State University; Regents of the University of Minnesota; University of Texas Health Science Center; the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and University of California, Irvine.

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