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Press Release  
Release Date: Friday, April 4, 2014 4:34 PM
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Rachel Mann
Communications Specialist

Howard University Professor Anna Allen
Wins U.S. Department of Defense Research Grant

The grant will fund the aquisition a state-of-the-art microscope to enhance the student educational experience.

Anna K. Allen

WASHINGTON (March 19, 2013) – Howard University Department of Biology assistant professor Anna K. Allen, Ph.D., was recently awarded a $450,444 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to fund the acquisition of a spinning disc fluorescent confocal microscope.

The grant was awarded under the DoD’s Research and Education Program for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions (HBCU/MI). The grant, titled “Acquisition of a Spinning Disk Confocal Microscope to Enhance Research and Training in the STEM Fields at Howard University,” will enhance the technical and instructional capabilities of the department as well as help to increase diversity in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“We’re very fortunate to receive this grant,” said Dr. Allen, principal investigator on the project. “This next generation imaging capability will revolutionize both the instructional training as well as research that faculty at Howard University and other local colleges and universities can accomplish.”  

Allen and a team of researchers will utilize the new imaging system to tackle a variety of biological issues. These include identifying new components of the cell cycle as well as better understanding neurons in mental health disorders such as depression and drug abuse in order to design more effective therapeutic drugs.

The spinning disc confocal system will also allow the department to incorporate live cell imaging into its undergraduate and graduate courses. Allen plans to use the system in her developmental biology and genetics courses, while other faculty will utilize it in molecular biology and immunology courses.

In 2009 and again in 2013, the National Science Foundation (NSF) ranked Howard University as the top producer of African-American bachelor’s degree recipients who subsequently earned science and engineering doctoral degrees in the United States. On average, more freshmen enroll in biology at Howard than in any other major.

The Research and Education Program for HBCU/MI enhances research programs and capabilities in scientific and engineering disciplines critical to the national security functions of the DoD. It encourages greater participation by HBCU/MIs in DoD research and education programs and activities; increases the number of graduates, including underrepresented minorities, in the STEM fields and encourages research and educational collaboration with other institutions of higher education.



Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 30 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University's Web site at

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