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Colleges and Universities Insider Only Kent County News People to Watch

People to Watch: Melissa Harrington, DSU

Katie Tabeling


Delaware Business Times highlights an annual list of individuals as “People to Watch” in the new year as we believe they will leave a mark on their industries or communities.

DOVER – Delaware State University has always had a reputation as the state’s only HBCU and a premiere academic center for agriculture sciences. But in the last decade, Melissa Harrington has helped pave the way for the university to become a force in building its research portfolio. Prior to 2003, DSU had not received a grant more than $1 million.

A DSU faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences for 12 years, she served as the driving force behind establishing a successful neuroscience doctorate program.

Harrington has been the principal investigator on four of DSU’s top research grants, attracting more than $50 million over the last decade. Some of those notable awards helped establish the Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research – a research collaboration between DSU and the University of Delaware.

The most recent grant was the largest one received to date: $18.36 million from the National Institutes of Health to study health disparities in the state, particularly on underserved populations. Over the next five years, that research is slated to bring researchers to the campus, launching awards to fund research and working with existing state organizations to make a real impact in Delawareans’ health.

“Melissa Harrington is a large part of Delaware State University’s research trajectory which has become an indelible part of its institution’s character. Her success in grant writing and the instrumental impact it has had on developing research infrastructure and capacity has been nothing short of phenomenal,” DSU President Tony Allen said. “Perhaps more important, she also serves as an inspiration to her faculty colleagues across the university. ”

As the university continues to grow in the national spotlight, Harrington and other professors will continue to expand the considerable research, focusing on the foundation of recruiting talented staff and granting opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students.

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