Since the establishment of the original Fralin Biotechnology Center— made possible by an endowment provided by Horace Fralin—cutting-edge life science research has expanded significantly and continues to grow. 

In 2008, the Fralin Biotechnology Center merged with Virginia Tech’s Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences to form the Fralin Life Science Institute.  Today, Mr. Fralin’s contribution and the gifts of subsequent donors, such as Tracy D. Wilkins, former director of the Fralin Life Science Institute, continue to provide funding for student scholarships, faculty stipends, laboratory resources and equipment. Specifically, proceeds from the Fralin endowment are used to match contributions and grants from other sources to continue the outreach, teaching, and research missions of the Fralin institute. 

For information about how to donate to Fralin, please visit the Virginia Tech Foundation website.


Horace Fralin: An Eye to the Future

Following his graduation in 1948 with a degree in electrical engineering, the late Horace Fralin went on to forge a partnership in Fralin and Waldron Inc., a company that specialized in federal housing programs, health care facilities, and retirement centers. The company has also been involved with the rehabilitation of buildings in downtown Roanoke.

Fralin was a charter member of Virginia Tech's Ut Prosim Society and was a Corporate Distinguished Benefactor, founding member of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center Board of Directors, and served as president of the Virginia Tech Foundation.  He served on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, College of Engineering Committee of 100 Advisory Board, Virginia Tech Foundation Executive and Finance Committee, and was chairman of the Hotel Roanoke advisory committee.

The Virginia Tech Alumni Association recognized his leadership by honoring Fralin with the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, and in 1992 the university conferred upon him its most distinguished award for service, the William H. Ruffner Medal.

Fralin's bequest to Virginia Tech, valued at $8.6 million, is one of the largest gifts in university history. Four million dollars of his gift was, at his request, earmarked for the study and application of biotechnology. These funds have been used to create a permanent endowment for the institute. The proceeds from the endowment are used to match contributions and grants from other sources to continue the outreach, teaching, and research missions of the Fralin Center. Through this endowment, Horace Fralin will continue to support research in the fields of human and animal health and agricultural productivity forever.

Accomplishments in FY 2015:

Three laboratories in Fralin Hall are being renovated to form a new insectary that will contain two warm rooms, two workrooms, and an anteroom. This insectary will increase the research capabilities of a number of investigators within the Vector-borne Disease Research Group.

The Institute helped to develop the Global Change Center, which is housed within the Institute, and will focus on five emerging global threats: habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, disease, and climate change.

The Institute purchased a new confocal microscope to replace the microscope that was housed in the Fralin Imaging Core facility and is used by faculty and students across campus.

Accomplishments in FY 2014:

John McDowell began serving as co-director of Fralin Life Science Institute.

New equipment was purchased for the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) Core Laboratory.

A portfolio highlighting Virginia Tech life science researchers was compiled.

The Institute provided seed funding to develop a white paper on the establishment of a Global Change Center and participated in the development of a Beckman Foundation proposal, which seeks funding to provide support for undergraduate research in the area of Global Change.