Virginia Tech Carilion receives Excellence in Virginia Government Award

Michael Friedlander and Daniel Harrington accept the award from Niraj Verma and Michael Rao

From left: Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute; Niraj Verma, dean of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University; Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University; and Daniel Harrington, vice dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute recently received one of seven Excellence in Virginia Government Awards given annually by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. The organization was recognized for its successful public-private partnership.

“The public-private partnership that Virginia Tech Carilion represents has been a catalyst for positive change within our local academic and medical communities, as well as a model for advancement of academic medicine nationwide,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the research institute. “We have developed a biomedical research enterprise that avoids many of the organizational limitations of traditional medical centers while capitalizing on novel research partnerships that integrate the physical, engineering, behavioral, and life sciences with medicine.”

The public-private partnership reflects the contributions of both Virginia Tech, the commonwealth’s leading research institution, and Carilion Clinic, a regional health care system. Within sight of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, the medical school and the research institute share a state-of-the-art facility that serves as the burgeoning hub of the university’s satellite campus in Roanoke.

“The Virginia Tech Carilion partnership is the epitome of a good idea that evolved into something great,” said Cynda Johnson, dean of the medical school. “Together, we have been able to build a medical curriculum and a research agenda in parallel. No other new medical school has been able to offer its students the benefits of such an innovative partnership.”

“With its close collaboration with the research institute, the medical school is able to address the increasing need for research-adept physicians who can help translate scientific discoveries into patient care,” said Daniel Harrington, vice dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, who accepted the award on behalf of the medical school.

In accepting the award on behalf of the research institute, Friedlander described the 2000 film “Remember the Titans.” Based on a true story, the movie featured an Alexandria, Virginia, high school coach who brought together a football team and an entire community during the earliest days of integration to win the state championship. The winning game was played at Roanoke’s now-demolished Victory Stadium, whose former site neighbors the Virginia Tech Carilion campus.

Friedlander thanked the “titans” who conceptualized and implemented the public-private partnership, including Charles Steger, former president of Virginia Tech; Edward Murphy, former chief executive officer of Carilion Clinic; U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, former governor of Virginia; and current and past members of the Virginia General Assembly, especially former Delegate Lacey Putney.

Friedlander also acknowledged another group of titans: the scientists who came from leading universities and medical centers from around the country and world to Roanoke, to be part of the innovative scientific enterprise that the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute represents.

“I want to applaud their willingness to join a young yet promising institution,” Friedlander said. “They will continue to make profound contributions to the health of people everywhere.”

Written by Catherine Doss