March 3, 2015 — American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU), announced that The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s leading academic and research institution, is the recipient of a competitive $789,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program (USAID/ASHA).

The grant will fund the establishment of the Unit of Correlative Microscopy at the University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, Israel’s only academic and research Faculty dedicated to sustainable agriculture and environmental protection. The high-tech microscopy equipment will enable Smith Faculty experts to study the tissue and cell levels of crops, such as chickpeas and soybeans, grown under environmentally stressful conditions. The goal of this pioneering research is to boost crop yields by improving plant-breeding methods.

agrimicroThe grant proposal was coordinated and submitted on The Hebrew University’s behalf by AFHU, a U.S.-based not-for-profit organization that raises awareness of, and support for The Hebrew University, in the United States. Previously, ASHA has funded sophisticated DNA sequencing equipment and cutting-edge research at The Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. ASHA also approved $400,000 for funding in 2013, to upgrade the Phytotron, a climate controlled greenhouse, at the Smith Faculty of Agriculture, which is working to remedy the impact of climate change on crop production in many parts of the world.

“AFHU is delighted to continue this vital partnership between The Hebrew University and ASHA,” stated Beth McCoy, national executive director of AFHU. “ASHA’S commitment to assist developing nations is enhanced by The Hebrew University’s efforts to help feed the world by developing tools and methods to grow hardy, healthful crops under challenging environmental conditions. The University has great expertise in plant sciences, knowledge that is urgent in light of rapid population growth worldwide.”

USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program has helped to strengthen schools, libraries, medical centers and research abroad for over 50 years. Its mission is to share the best in health and education ideas, practices and values worldwide while building mutual understanding and friendship with people of other countries.