Director's Message

DennisFralin
Dr. Dennis Dean, Director of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute

Thank you for visiting the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech web page. It is an exciting time for the life sciences community at Virginia Tech. In April 2019, Virginia Tech transferred the resources of the Biocomplexity Institute into the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech on the Blacksburg campus. In doing so, Virginia Tech plans to support life sciences research across the university by providing “room to grow” through shared laboratories and catalyzing collaboration and partnership.

The goal is to grow the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech into a hybrid thematic and investment institute committed to supporting research, education, and outreach in Virginia Tech’s life sciences community.  Residents of the institute's five flagship buildings are automatically considered affiliated faculty members and all other life science researchers on campus are invited to become affiliated faculty members. 

Under the guidance of Dr. Rich Helm, shared research facilities supporting the life sciences will be reorganized to provide core resources across departments and disciplines. Staffed by expert technicians and guided by user needs, these facilities will drive efficiencies and promote collaborations across the research enterprise. This model will allow for scale and quality of investment not currently available to individual researchers, departments, or colleges; efficiencies of scale for service and infrastructure; and strategic support for university priorities.

Co-funded faculty in strategic thematic thrusts and promising research projects will have the potential to receive additional university support for strategic hires for faculty and retention of key faculty to engage in emerging areas of research excellence.

I am working closely with Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke and Vice President for Research and Innovation Theresa Mayer to convene a group of key stakeholders that will contribute to the further development and implementation oversee the implementation of the new model. This summer, our stakeholders will launch and oversee a national search for a new executive director of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, and it is expected that faculty members will have the opportunity to fully participate in the recruitment of the new director.

The Fralin Life Sciences Institute was formed in 2008, itself the merger of two entities that formed in 1995 and 2003. The institute bears the Fralin name in recognition of the philanthropy by the late Horace and Ann Fralin. Horace Fralin was a member of the class of 1948 and a longtime supporter of Virginia Tech.

Last year, the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust and Heywood and Cynthia Fralin donated a record $50 million to Virginia Tech to support research at the newly renamed Fralin Biomedical Research Institute within the Virginia Tech Carilion Academic Health Center in Roanoke. Heywood Fralin is the brother of Horace Fralin.

"Horace would be proud to see his vision for life science research come into focus at Virginia Tech,” Fralin said. “To see the university elevate critical research like this by investing in and supporting the Fralin Life Sciences Institute is both important and exciting."