Michael Friedlander at a microphone

Michael Friedlander participated in a panel discussion on exemplary models of public-private partnerships, including the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

Michael Friedlander spoke at summit on research models for Virginia universities

Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, recently participated in a panel discussion on exemplary models of public-private partnerships in academe.

The panel discussion, which featured leading research faculty from five Virginia universities, was part of the Virginia Higher Education Research Summit, held June 9 in Richmond. The State Council for Higher Education in Virginia, better known as SCHEV, hosted the summit in cooperation with the Center for Excellence in Education, the Center for Innovative Technology, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

The summit convened Virginia stakeholders in academic research with the twin goals of exploring research as an economic engine and showcasing model partnerships between public universities and the private sector. The event featured addresses by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, and Reginald Brothers, under secretary for science and technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

During his remarks, Friedlander discussed the mission of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, identified as one of those model public-private partnerships. The guiding principles for the institute, Friedlander said, were to identify the opportunity landscape; build around challenges, not disciplines; achieve excellence in several key areas; be disruptive but fit into the environment; fully engage partners and the community; recruit and retain the right people; build diverse teams; celebrate and reward innovative success and failure; and identify and build strategic partnerships.

In illustrating those principles, Friedlander spoke about the institute’s three main areas of research: neuroscience; cardiovascular science; and cancer, infectious disease, and immunity. Those areas were chosen, he noted, because they not only represented pressing health challenges for Virginia, the nation, and the world, but also offered promise for significant research progress resulting from the kind of unfettered interdisciplinary collaborative research that is a signature of Virginia Tech’s institutes.

Friedlander highlighted a range of groundbreaking discoveries being made by the institute’s research teams. Among the major successes Friedlander described were the worldwide interactive human functional brain imaging hub led by Read Montague; the Addiction Recovery Research Center, led by Warren Bickel; the VTCRI Neuromotor Research Center, focused on treating cerebral palsy in children and led by Sharon Ramey and Stephanie DeLuca; the advancement of real-time human functional brain imaging and feedback for retraining the brain after injury, led by Stephen LaConte; and the new Center for Heart and Regenerative Medicine Research, led by Robert Gourdie. Friedlander noted that the heart center has already developed collaborations between multiple Virginia universities and private industry to develop new and improved wound healing and repair strategies.

Friedlander also mentioned a range of strategic collaborations the institute has already engaged in, including ones with Children’s National Medical Center, George Washington University, Wake Forest University, the University of Virginia, Caltech, George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and several companies.

In addition, Friedlander offered a preview of the university’s new doctoral program in Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health. The university-wide program, which spans 25 departments and 7 colleges, will welcome its first class in August.

Charles Steger, who recently retired from his position as president of Virginia Tech, also spoke at the research summit. Steger, who was honored at the event for his leadership, stressed the importance of research universities in keeping the United States competitive in the new, global, knowledge-based economy.

“Clearly, the nation’s success in the global economy will require a renewed commitment to investing in scientific and technological discovery,” Steger said. “And within the nation, Virginia’s future will depend upon our ability to succeed in the increasingly competitive world of research and development.”