Offering a new model for biomedical research

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute

On May 15, Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, gave a presentation to the leadership of the University of Illinois and the Carle Foundation Clinic and Hospital, both in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., on forging a public–private partnership to create a new type of biomedical research enterprise.

In his presentation, Friedlander described how the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute has engaged and cooperated with academic departments, colleges, and institutes at Virginia Tech; Carilion Clinic; the Salem VA Medical Center; and other academic medical centers in Virginia to create a new model for biomedical research. In this model, he said, faculty researchers work within an institute that is organized around medical research themes. At the same time, though, these scientists maintain strong ties with traditional academic departments and colleges and participate in a novel program of medical education and research training.

Friedlander’s talk explored the issues, challenges, and opportunities inherent in a partnership between a public university and a private health system. He also addressed the infrastructural, cultural, programmatic, and financial aspects of such a partnership, highlighting strides that have taken place in Roanoke over the past several years, such as the engagement of the community with world leaders in a range of programs.

The research institute and its affiliated Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Friedlander pointed out, are able to fuse the basic science, life science, bioinformatics, and engineering strengths of Virginia Tech with the clinical practice and medical education experience of Carilion Clinic.

“Even though it’s still relatively new,” said Friedlander, “this partnership is increasingly being called a model for tackling the complexities of both biomedical research and medical education.”

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