Ritu Banga and her husband, Board of Fellows member Ajay Banga, are passionate about the cause of global health-care equity. Now, through a generous $5 million gift, the couple will fund a Weill Cornell Medicine initiative to develop a fuller understanding of the specific health needs, challenges and differences among diverse peoples worldwide.
Formerly known as the Healthcare Disparities Research Awards, the Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Awards support excellence in research that will ultimately lead to improvements in the health of women and underrepresented minorities and reduce health disparities in health-care systems and in clinical settings.
“This is an important issue that is very close to our hearts,” says Mrs. Banga, an investor and a co-founder of Zoomdojo, a social enterprise focused on helping college students, recent graduates and startup founders achieve success.
Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, launched the Diversity and Healthcare Disparities Research Awards program in 2017 as part of his goal to strengthen and widen diversity and inclusion efforts at Weill Cornell Medicine and in academic medicine generally. Candidates include fellows, postdocs and full-time faculty.
Awards of $50,000 each are distributed every year, and recipients present their research each spring during Weill Cornell Medicine’s Diversity Week.
“Ritu and Ajay’s quest to help us expand our biomedical knowledge and embrace the unique diversity of all the world’s peoples is inspiring and, just as important, within our reach,” Dr. Choi says. “This gift will have a powerful impact on global health.”
The Bangas chose to fund an endowment because they value both short-term and long-term results. Weill Cornell Medicine endowments generate the necessary income to fund the work of generations of promising scientists, year after year. Weill Cornell Medicine is an ideal medical institution to support, in part because it serves the most ethnically diverse city in the world and research conducted in New York can easily be applied globally, the couple says.
Finally, they are dedicated to helping patients through the ambitious $1.5 billion We’re Changing Medicine campaign, which embraces health-care equity and precision health as cornerstones. Mr. Banga, the executive chair and former CEO of Mastercard, serves as a vice chair of the We’re Changing Medicine campaign.
“Through our close friendship with Dean Choi and his wife, Dr. Mary Choi, and my long involvement on the Board of Fellows, Ritu and I profoundly believe in the unlimited possibilities of this institution,” Mr. Banga says. “There is no place like it.”