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Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine emphasizes research across the entire four-year curriculum, requiring all students to produce a project of publishable quality before graduation, with the goal being to produce scientist physicians ready to incorporate research in their care of patients. One reason we are able to give students this deep and rich experience is through a strong partnership with Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, which is co-located in our building as well as a brand-new expansion building, along with faculty at Carilion Clinic and on Virginia Tech’s main Blacksburg campus.

More than half of VTCSOM students find a research mentor at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, which has research focus areas of addiction recovery, cancer, cardiovascular science, children’s health, glial biology, health behaviors, human neuroscience, infectious disease, molecular and cellular neurobiology, and reparative medicine.

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[Michael Friedlander, PhD]: Hi. I'm Mike Friedlander, the Executive Director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion. This is one of the most incredible places in the world to do cross disciplinary research converging on answering some of the most important problems and challenges facing human kind today in health. 

[Robert Gourdie, PhD]: We want to understand the fundamental mechanisms of how propagation of electrical activation occurs in cardiac muscle. 

[Shannon Farris, PhD]: So we're really interested in understanding how the individual connections between neurons are changed or remodeled during learning. 

[Rachana Deven Somaiya]: I'm studying a region in the brain called lateral geniculate nucleus. It's part of visual thalamus and it's one of the first places to receive inputs from the retina. 

[Michael Fox, PhD]: I'm studying very early brain development trying to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow our brains to wire properly. 

[Dr. Friedlander]: We use a strategic multi-disciplinary approach to converge on problems from many directions at once. This allows our investigators to tackle and solve some of the most challenging problems in the biomedical sciences. Indicative of that success is the fact that our investigators receive federally funded research grants at better than 3 times the national average rate. 

[Dr. Farris]: Going to a lot of different interviews you know everyone's going to say that they're collaborative and they help you write grants and they help your research program but you can really tell that it was authentic here. 

[Craig Ramey, PhD]: People who would not have thought to collaborate across certain disciplines now do it routinely. 

[Paras Patel]: Everyone is very willing to collaborate and share skills. So in my last 2 years I've picked up a whole lot of skills from various different fields and I feel like a lot of people at other institutions maybe aren't able to get. 

[Sharon Ramey, PhD]: It's bringing together some of the most improbable, highly accomplished, highly original scientists I've ever worked with. 

[Dr. Friedlander]: The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion was founded in 2010. Sure, we're newer and smaller than a lot of research institutes in the world but we're growing every day as an evidence by the doubling of our size with the addition of a new research building and the impact of our investigators work on health worldwide including receiving over $125 million dollars in active research grants in effect today. 

[Dr. Ramey]: I don't think I know of another place in the country that has developed as fast as this place. 

[Dr. Gourdie]: I just felt there was an energy and a vision about what was being built here that I very much wanted to be a part of. 

[Dr. Fox]: The energy really makes this place unique and special and all of the faculty here have been extremely successful partly because of that energy partly because of the state of the art technologies and I think an important part of it is also the leadership here; both the leadership within the Institute but also from Virginia Tech. 

[Dr. Farris]: The leadership here does a really good job of clearing the red tape so that we can focus on research and they're really supportive in terms of getting us equipment and facilities in order to do really cutting edge science here. 

[Dr. Friedlander]: Roanoke, Virginia is a beautiful mountain city that offers big city amenities. If you like to hike, bike, get on the water, enjoy good food, art and festivals and also going to work every day in an elite academic research environment, then this is the place for you. 

[Warren Bickel, PhD]: When I got asked to be here I thought I was being asked to be a member of the A-Team. It made me want to run harder and work more to achieve some significant ends. 

[Rachana]: I really love this place because apart from having good science the community around you is very accepting of you, not just for your scientific contributions but for how different you are. 

[Dr. Friedlander]: Whether you're a graduate student, post-doctoral fellow, a junior or a senior faculty member, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion is the place to be. Come join us and be part of tomorrow today!

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The new Fralin Biomedical Research Institute expansion has a state-of-the-art design that reflects the innovative Virginia Tech scientists who will work there. 

With numerous features to minimize its carbon footprint, the building is a model for sustainable architecture. 

  • Starting at the top, the green roof has a beautiful meadow garden that helps reduce stormwater run-off and prevents flooding. 
    • The garden also promotes biodiversity, by creating new habitats for insect life and birds. 
    • And the roof’s structural materials were selected to reduce heat by reflecting sunlight. 
  • Sun shades and sections of darker glass also reduce heat and energy consumption for cooling. 
  • Captured rainwater from the roof will be collected in a 24,000-gallon cistern. This water used in restrooms is cleaned and filtered for reuse using reverse osmosis technology. 
  • All of the materials inside, including carpet, ceiling tile, and wall boards are declared no-VOC or low-VOC to ensure healthy indoor air quality. 
  • With vacancy sensors and LED lights, the building is estimated to reduce energy consumption by 15% compared to similar facilities. 

With a walkable campus, easy access to buses and bicycle paths, and new electronic vehicle charging stations on-site, the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke makes it easy for faculty, staff and students to make sustainable transportation choices. 

Opening in 2020, the 139,000-square-foot facility is anticipated to house more than 20 biomedical research teams.

TBMH Student Tina Williams
Here at FBRI we use a strategic multi-disciplinary approach to converge on problems from many directions at once.
COVID-19 testing lab
Cross disciplinary researchers work on answering some of the most important problems and challenges facing human kind today in health.
COVID-19 testing lab
Our investigators tackle and solve some of the most challenging problems in the biomedical sciences.