Welcome Message from Executive Director Michael Friedlander

Michael Friedlander

Welcome to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute!

When we opened the doors of the Institute in September 2010, we immediately got to work assembling a dozen world-class research teams to address major health issues. We were focused on a single, yet ambitious mission: to advance the health of the nation and the world by making major scientific advances in understanding human health and in developing new diagnostics, treatments, and cures for disorders that limit the quality of life and the realization of full human potential. We do this through biomedical and behavioral research.

We have since assembled 21 major research teams with more than 150 faculty and staff working together to solve these problems. We have attracted top scientific talent to Roanoke from Harvard University, the National Institutes of Health, Georgetown University, Baylor College of Medicine, and other premier institutions. Our research teams include postdoctoral fellows, students, and staff from across the country and around the world.

The Institute was formed through an innovative partnership of Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic, which together provided $59 million for the state-of-the-art building and an additional $50 million in initial support. In addition, the Institute’s faculty research team leaders have already successfully competed for research grants valued at more than $12 million a year.

Institute scientists are carrying out leading-edge research programs on autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, addiction, cancer, mental retardation, epilepsy, and infectious diseases, with state-of-the-art technologies and innovative interdisciplinary science. The research is characterized by computational and quantitative approaches, and modeling in conjunction with experimentation is a critical cornerstone.

The range of research going on today in the Institute includes facilities for a worldwide hub for interactive functional brain imaging, linking Roanoke to the United Kingdom, China, South Korea, Germany, and Norway as well as to other institutions throughout the United States, including Princeton, Caltech, and Emory University. This network, which includes the Institute’s three research-dedicated magnetic resonance imaging scanners, is allowing Institute investigators to launch the world’s largest longitudinal study of brain function and decision-making. The Roanoke Brain Study will use functional imaging, genetic analysis, and behavior to uncover key aspects of human brain development in health and in a range of disorders.

Moreover, our scientists are inventing and applying new technologies to allow for therapeutic activation of deep brain structures without surgery, to identify at high resolution novel molecular targets for therapeutic intervention in cancer, behavioral training to enhance memory and control addiction, and innovative work with parents, children, health care providers, and schools to give every child the healthy start they deserve.

In the coming years, the Institute will continue to expand to more than 30 research teams. As we grow, we will continue to expand on our strengths in neuroscience and brain function throughout the lifespan. We will also build our research enterprise in areas such as cardiovascular health, cancer biology, immunology, and infectious diseases.

The Institute is characterized by a highly interactive environment with multiple transdisciplinary projects and an openness of investigators, facilities, and reagents for the exploration of the scientific underpinnings of health and a range of diseases and disorders. Our institute represents a new model for biomedical and behavioral science in which creative scientists can approach major problems with breadth and depth in a nurturing and intellectually challenging environment.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you are interested in joining us. We encourage the participation of students wanting to pursue doctoral work in biomedical and behavioral science, postdoctoral fellows, and research faculty at all levels.

Michael J. Friedlander, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute