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Andrew Marks, Columbia University Medical Center
(THE CONVERSATION) Affirmative action programs are designed to provide access to high-quality higher education for underrepresented minorities, but the Trump administration is targeting these essential programs by directing resources toward investigating and possibly suing colleges and universities that use race as a factor in admissions.
Providing women and minorities with access to our finest educational research institutions is not only morally correct, it makes good sense. I know this because I started a program that provides minority students with biomedical research training at Columbia University, and I have witnessed firsthand how dramatically lives can be changed.
Diversity not only improves biomedical research training programs but is essential to them, as a cursory look at medical history shows.
Without Dr. Charles Drew, a graduate of Amherst College, McGill and Columbia, blood transfusions and blood banks would not have saved thousands of lives in World War II.
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a graduate of Northwestern University Medical School, was one of the first surgeons to repair a knife wound to the heart. Dr. Percy Julian, the second black to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, was a leader in the synthesis of steroids for treatment of endocrine disorders – but he wasn’t allowed into high school because the only one in his hometown of Montgomery was all-white. Dr. Jane Wright pioneered cancer chemotherapy after graduating from Smith College and New York Medical College.
Tragically, there are brilliant students who could be the next Drs. Drew, Williams, Julian and Wright, but they may never get a chance to excel. They come from disadvantaged backgrounds and lack access to resources that could make them competitive with…