Black Lives Matter

June 19, 2020

Today marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when Federal orders proclaimed that all slaves in Texas were free, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. In the context of the events of the past few weeks and an unprecedented national health crisis that has disproportionally impacted minority communities, it is heartbreaking to realize how much we have not done to level the playing field for Black Americans in our society, to remedy the injustices that plague our history.

We grieve for George Floyd and far too many others, and we stand with Black communities who have disproportionately suffered for too long by institutions meant to protect but often do the opposite. We are fully committed to addressing the inequalities and injustices that surround us and to being part of the solution to create meaningful change.

The Lieber Institute is steadfast in guaranteeing inclusivity and evenhandedness in all of our operations and in addressing at least a fraction of the health and research disparities in neuroscience and psychiatric disorders. To this end, together with community leaders in Baltimore City, we founded the nation’s first African American Neuroscience Research Initiative. Alongside our community partners, led by Rev. Alvin Hathaway of the Union Baptist Church, we have worked tirelessly over the past two years to ensure that genomic research and neuroscience studies are representative of individuals across all populations, including African ancestry. As part of this critical effort to accelerate scientific progress and close the gap in health disparities, we secured local, state, and federal government support. Last year, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md) championed authorizing language in the HHS Senate Appropriations Bill that solicited unprecedented bipartisan backing. As a result, Congress appropriated additional funds to close the gap in neuroscience research for ethnic minority groups. In March, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan submitted a supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 that included $1.25 million in support of the African American Neuroscience Research Initiative.

The Lieber Institute remains dedicated to raising public awareness and mobilizing the necessary resources to create meaningful change. We are committed to listening, learning, and continuing to relentlessly push the scientific frontier to close the gap in behavioral health and research disparities. We stand with our Black community not only in the spirit of solidarity but through the efforts of the African American Neuroscience Research Initiative to uphold our commitment to an equal and just society.

Black Lives Matter.