Focus Areas


Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience

One unifying theme of the Institute’s research program is based on a simple fact: Fifty percent of all human disease is related to the nervous system. Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists integrate new technologies and foster multidisciplinary thinking to understand how the brain develops, makes choices, and responds to disease and injury.

Scientists in the institute’s Computational Psychiatry Unit, for example, work across disciplines to understand the neural computations involved in human cognition and such psychiatric disorders as depression, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic addiction, and autism spectrum disorders.

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Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

With 86 billion neurons and more than 100 trillion synapses in your brain continuously passing information up to 200 miles an hour, your brain is right to believe it’s your most important organ. The connections in the brain need to develop correctly, and damaged or improperly formed connections can lead to neurological disorders.

Scientists at the Institute study exactly how neurons form, what happens if they're damaged, and work to see if they can reform. Researchers work across disciplines to understand the mechanisms of cellular and molecular neurobiology, and innovate therapeutic interventions for disorders such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, muscular dystrophy, and spinal muscular atrophy.

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Heart and Regenerative Medicine

Heart disease is the nation’s leading killer. The heart can be damaged suddenly or over time. Why does electrical conductivity in the heart stop abruptly? How do arteries become blocked? What strategies might scientists develop to help correct these problems?

Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute’s Center for Heart and Regenerative Medicine Research aim to improve understanding of exactly how the heart functions, why it sometimes fails to work properly, and what to do to repair any damage.

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Cancer, Immunity, and Infection

Cells become infected by viruses and bacteria, and sometimes even the cells turn self-destructive. Scientists at the institute are studying the mechanisms of infection, immunity, and cancer in order to better understand how to protect human health.

The researchers work across disciplines, sharing innovative ideas and inventions to better understand their own subject areas.

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Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute transcend conventional disciplinary boundaries in their search for innovation and discovery in the area of rehabilitation.

Major targets of this research include:
• addiction and substance abuse
• cerebral palsy
• congenital heart defects
• ischemic heart disease
• neuromuscular repair
• post-traumatic stress disorder
• speech disorders
• stroke
• traumatic brain injury
• wound healing and injury repair