W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory

We are the only academic institution in the world with 400 years of genomic samples on peoples of African descent and with such great potential for illumination of the African American past.

cobb seal clear black.png

The vision at the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory emphasizes allowing biological anthropology to take the lead in expanding the frontiers of an inclusive integrative anthropologic mindset into the broad dimensions of science. Howard University has had a long commitment to understanding the societal implications of science and we do not expect to waiver from this now. 

The laboratory is a unique and priceless resource for research on the human skeletal and bio-archaeological collections housed therein. The important collections of the Cobb Research Laboratory (CRL) are the Cobb Collection and the New York African Burial Ground.  In addition, we have recently been granted access to the BADU collection. 

The Cobb Collection is unique in that it is the only skeletal collection residing at a historically black college/ university (HBCU) and lends itself to novel insights about the lives and deaths of Americans living in the Washington, D.C. area during that time.  

The New York African Burial Ground (NYABG) Collection at the CRL consists of soil and bioskeletal samples from the NYABG Project. This project unearthed 419 skeletons and related artifacts from a previously unknown and unmarked grave site in Manhattan, NY in 1991. Bioarchaelogists confirmed that these individuals were in fact enslaved Africans and African Americans from the 17th and 18th century. This discovery was deemed significant, so much so that the burial site has been commemorated as a National Monument and protected by the United States National Park Service.



  • Cooperative Agreements with National Park Service

  • Eight peer-reviewed external publications including American Journal of Human Biology

  • Recent features in Nature and Science

  • Memorandums of Understanding with University of Copenhagen, Harvard University, and various Howard University units

  • Validation of aDNA extraction from Cobb Collection

  • Summer Research Programs with SMDEP

  • K-12 Outreach in STEM promotion

  • Training in dental cementum extraction

  • 19 presenters at Research Week 2015

  • Invitation to contribute to Wikipedia

  • Developing collaborations with faculty at Howard University College of Dentistry and College of Medicine

  • Initiated the Cobb Research Lab News

  • Initiated The Backbone