James Hildreth, James Hildreth 2020

Dr. James Hildreth, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Meharry Medical College, Joins Us to Discuss Bloomberg Philanthropies $34 Million Gift to School, Covid-19, More

Recently, Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee received a $34 million donation from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The charitable organization was founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Earlier this year, the billionaire ran for the Democratic nomination for President.

Past CYInterview guest, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Meharry Medical College, Dr. James Hildreth joined us to tell us how this life changing money will help the program he oversees. Dr. Hildreth is an immunologist with an educational background which he achieved at vaunted institutions including Harvard, Oxford and the John Hopkins School of Medicine.

There is no denying that Dr. Hildreth’s years of hard work was one of the reasons why the Meharry Medical College received this large gift from Michael Bloomberg’s charity. On how the funds will be used, Dr. Hildreth told us this:

“So, the gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies is specifically to allow us to reduce the debt of our currently enrolled medical students. It’s a significant problem really across the country. But students who attend our schools, the four black medical schools, tend to come from households with incomes of less than $75,000 compared to majority of students who go to the other schools, typically they have come from household incomes with $175,000. So, there’s a huge gap in the amount of support families can provide. Therefore, there’s a huge gap in the amount of money that has to be borrowed.”

Because the students of Meharry Medical College will have less debt owing to the outsized generosity of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Dr. Hildreth believes many of his students will become primary care doctors. He shared this with us:

“The more debt you have, the more likely you are to choose something other than a primary care specialty. Because primary doctors get paid at the lowest end of the compensation scale. So, this will allow students to continue to make the choice, which many of my students want to make, to be a primary care doctor and to work in the under-served areas of the country. So, it’s a really extraordinarily, impactful gift for our students.”

Focusing on the coronavirus pandemic, recent reports have pointed to Vitamin D and its potential uses in countering Covid-19. Dr. Hildreth gave us his thoughts on this:

“There are certain parts of our immune response that are impaired if Vitamin D levels are low. … I think the evidence is getting stronger and stronger that Vitamin D deficiency might put people at a greater risk of severe disease.”

Featured columnist Jay Bildstein joins us for this CYInterview, where we discuss the coronavirus pandemic and the Meharry Medical College’s future after the Bloomberg Philanthropies donation.

You can listen to the entire CYInterview below:

*Editor’s Note: CYInterview, its staff and guests never provide medical advice. If you need medical advice or an opinion on a medical issue, you should get it from a qualified physician whom you trust.

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You can find Dr. James Hildreth on Twitter by clicking here.

You can learn more about Dr. James Hildreth by clicking here.

You can find more information about Meharry Medical College by clicking here.


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