The Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech is 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. Affiliated faculty members are given resources necessary to explore new, innovative science that benefits people in the New River Valley, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the world. Through seminars, conferences and research group support, the institute serves as a meeting point for progressive ideas involving multidisciplinary research. It is closely aligned with Virginia Tech’s other five research institutes, which include the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Sciences, the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment, and the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology.
The Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech strategically invests in targeted research areas within the life sciences. Such investments include recruitment and set-up support for new faculty members, retention and recognition of established faculty members, seed funds for new research projects, equipment purchases, graduate student recruitment and support, undergraduate research support, and support for outreach activities. Research initiatives within the life sciences receiving the highest priority for support include vector-borne disease, infectious disease, plant sciences, ecology and organismal biology, obesity, and cancer biology. The Fralin Life Sciences Institute is also actively engaged in cooperative partnerships with colleges, departments, and other institutes that also support the life science community.
The Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech was formed in August 2008 and represents an administrative merger of the Fralin Biotechnology Center and the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences. The Fralin Biotechnology Center was established in 1995 to promote research, education, and outreach related to the life sciences at Virginia Tech. The Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences was created in 2003 to provide strategic support to enhance biomedical research at Virginia Tech. Given the similar missions of the Fralin Biotechnology Center and the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences, an administrative merger offered the opportunity to create a single entity that can be effectively managed while significantly reducing administrative costs. The Fralin Biotechnology Center’s strong commitment to public service in the area of biotechnology and undergraduate education has been preserved. The merger also empowers the institute to achieve the primary mission of the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences.
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.
Shared research facilities supporting the life sciences will 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.