Although the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech has and will continue to support a spectrum of research initiatives in the life sciences, it consistently invests in five areas. These research areas include cancer biology, molecular plant sciences, obesity, infectious disease, and vector-borne disease. Institute investments in these areas include recruitment and set-up support for new faculty, retention and recognition of established faculty, seed funds for new research projects, equipment purchase, graduate student recruitment and support, undergraduate research support, and support of outreach activities.
For more information about each area, click the titles below.
Fralin Life Sciences Institute's commitment to cancer research is evident in its support of scientists studying numerous aspects of the disease, including environmental factors that may play a role in cancer initiation, molecular and cellular events leading to the deregulation of cellular functions, and discovery and application of creative and cutting-edge technologies for cancer treatment. The institute encourages collaboration among researchers from wide-raning backgrounds, including engineering, virology, biological sciences, and human nutrition, foods and exercise.
In 2009, Fralin Cancer Initiative Funds were used to establish the Fralin-VT Core Cancer Group. The group strengthens Virginia Tech's cancer resarch impact by traning undergraduate, gradaute and postdoctoral students in basic cancer research. The grouping of researchers from diverse backgrounds has led to new, multi-disciplinary research projects that tackle the cancer problem from an innovative and progressive standpoint.
Influenza, HIV, Newcastle Disease and the common cold are just a few types of infectious disease rampant across the globe today. "Infectious disease" refers to an illness caused when a bacterial, viral, fungal or protozoan pathogen is spread via physical contact, contaminated food, body fluids, fomites, airborne inhalation or vector organisms. While the Fralin Life Science Institute Vector-Borne Research Group focuses on infectious diseases spread by arthropods, other Fralin researchers study ways that infectious diseases spread via animal, food, bacteria, and other types of human contact, and work towards the development of novel therapeutic approaches to ameliorate the effects of the transmission.
Since its beginnings as an incubator program in Fralin Hall, the plant sciences program at Virginia Tech has grown exponentially, branching out to acquire multiple faculty members and students and to find a permanent home in Latham Hall. Virginia Tech plant scientists use molecular biology skills, processes, and technologies to impact real world issues, including improvements in agricultural productivity, human health, and sustainable energy. With twenty faculty members from seven departments and three colleges devoted to work in this area, the program is truly multidisciplinary, with specialty in plant genomics, disease resistance, metabolic engineering, bioproduction, bioprocessing, and forest biotechnology.
In 2005, the plant sciences graduate program was initiated, allowing students to sample multiple research avenues before choosing a concentration in the second or third semesters. Already, current and former students have published in top-tier journals and presented at many national and international conferences. Fralin Life Science Institute has contributed to the success of the program by providing funding for faculty research, undergraduate, and gradaute student stipends, and equipment.