Roche's Genentech wants to shine a light on childhood trauma—and its lifelong negative effect on health—with $5 million in backing for a new advocacy effort.
The “All in For Kids” multidonor fund, which also includes Blue Shield of California, will focus on preventing traumatic experiences and supporting children and families suffering from trauma and domestic violence—both worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Childhood trauma and toxic stress are two of the major public health issues of our time, Rajni Dronamraju, Genentech’s senior director of charitable giving, said. Research has found that childhood trauma caused by domestic violence, abuse, neglect—or other stressors like poverty and discrimination—can cause higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
For Genentech, it’s not a new issue; the pharma has donated $20 million over the past four years as part of a larger effort to address childhood adversity through pediatric healthcare systems and community organizations.
“For us, it really starts with the science and how this issue of childhood trauma contributes to disease later in life, and also contributes to healthcare disparities," Dronamraju said. "We’re committed to the treatment of disease, but also prevention."
Along with the fund, the Bay Area pharma partnered with Futures without Violence for a virtual series on the topic. The three-day summit targeted three key groups needed to spur changes: healthcare providers, educators and parents and children’s caregivers.
Public figures who've taken up the cause—including health officials such as California’s surgeon general, American Medical Association executives and celebrities like actress Angelina Jolie—spoke during the sessions. The video seminars defined the problem, including how racism and COVID-19 have intensified the challenge, and pointed to resources where different groups can get help.
While the fund will focus its immediate efforts in Genentech’s home region, there are lessons that have already spread.
“A number of investments that we’ve made so far offer up a model for the state and beyond," Dronamraju said. "Some of those investments—designing new models for screening and developing new models of care that combine pediatric, primary care as well as behavioral health—are being adopted around the state and informing efforts around the country."