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Morgan State Receives $352,000 Award from Abell Foundation

Resources Will Enhance University’s Botanical Research Capabilities

Morgan State University President David Wilson today announced a partnership with the Abell Foundation to help fund the University’s state-of-the-art greenhouse facility and to enhance the University’s plant science technology training, education and research. The $352,000 grant places the University in a stronger position to form new strategic research alliances like the one recently announced by Governor Hogan regarding the relocation of Vitreon America, Inc.’s headquarters to Baltimore. The medicinal botanical company’s R&D relocation is expected to create about 200 new full-time jobs in Baltimore and comes as part of efforts to work with Maryland’s world-class medical and botanical research institutions such as Morgan.

“We are grateful to the Abell Foundation for its investment in the university and for recognizing the critical role that Morgan can play in important research such as the work we will engage in with Vitreon,” said Morgan President David Wilson. “As Maryland’s preeminent public urban research institution, Morgan welcomes the opportunity to partner with Vitreon on this project, and we are eager to get to work improving the lives of Marylanders and, of course, our students.”

The funds will be used to purchase specialized laboratory equipment and to purchase, transport, and cultivate plants in Morgan’s greenhouse facility to provide advanced botanical research, testing, and training.

“We saw this as an opportunity to build on Morgan State University’s strengths in science education and support a new generation of scientists who can leverage the power of plants to secure research funding and create new knowledge,” says Abell Foundation President Robert C. Embry, Jr.

Dr. Joseph Whittaker, director of Morgan’s Biomedical Research Center Program, will oversee implementation of the grant and serve as lead for the Morgan State University/Vitreon America, Inc. partnership.

“This partnership will afford significant growth and advancement in research and training in STEM disciplines at the university,” said Dr. Whittaker. “Faculty and student collaborations with Vitreon scientists will not only expand MSU’s research capacity and skills inventory but also foster the cultivation of a unique, multi-disciplinary training environment that will support the state of Maryland in realizing its R&D potential.”

Baltimore and Morgan State are expected to help Vitreon continue to grow its success. Dr. J. Randall Hoggle, chairman of the board of Vitreon America, Inc. says the region will be good for the company. “Baltimore offers all the business, scientific, and medical attributes that we need in order to capitalize on the vast potential of this industry,” says Hoggle.

The Abell Foundation’s financial investment will help Morgan facilitate identification and qualitative validation of novel plant-based compounds. The University’s faculty and students will collaborate with Vitreon scientists to investigate the medicinal properties and commercial applications of botanicals. Morgan’s new partnership will optimize its ability to secure new federal agricultural and botanical sciences grant opportunities focused on these innovative research areas.

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution offering more than 100 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s premier public urban research university, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit

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Clinton R. Coleman or Larry Jones

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