Fralin Life Sciences Institute

Dennis Dean

Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS)

Roop Mahajan

Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI)

Laurie Coble

Office of the Vice President for Research

Roderick Hall

The Commonwealth Research Initiative provided funds for specific research projects. The focus at Virginia Tech was infectious disease and nanotechnology and related health and technology areas within the missions of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, and Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (see “Implementation” link).

October 2008 Report on Leveraging CRI Funding (PDF format)

An important use for the new mass spectrometers provided by the Commonwealth Research Initiative will be to decipher the human responses to stresses such as infection and aging at the protein level. Here, biochemist Richard Helm is preparing the instrument to analyze proteins obtained from human cells to better understand the aging process.

Joerg Jinschek uses the transmission electron microscope (TEM) to examine fullerenes hollow carbon molecules that are being used for nanoscale devices and materials, such as electro-optic materials and thin films with unique properties. The TEM will be housed in the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory with other equipment provided by the CRI.

Stopping Infectious Disease — The Host-Pathogen-Environment Triangle

Virginia Tech research to anticipate conditions under which infectious diseases will emerge and the dynamic responses of diverse living organisms has resulted in new technology for rapidly detecting and identifying pathogens; advances in preventing vector-borne diseases, such as malaria; and new vaccines. Now, with sophisticated equipment and new personnel made possible through the CRI, the researchers are developing new vaccines targeting viruses, including flu; developing cancer-killing viruses; determining a bacteria genome within days; developing biosynthetic macromolecules for medical applications; observing host-pathogen interactions to discover and manipulate infection and resistance processes; and improving food safety.

Nanotechnology / Nanobiotechnology — Seeing the formerly unseen and building advanced materials and biomaterials from atoms and molecules

Nanotechnology research at Virginia Tech has resulted in nanoscale sensors and actuators and novel materials and composites. New businesses are now producing products, such as imaging materials for medical use and coatings and films with amazing properties. Ongoing research is also directed at drug delivery systems and biomaterials that can be used within the body without rejection. Now, with CRI investments, researchers are developing: nanoscale technologies to sense biological systems; transparent thin films that heal cracks and deformities; electroactive films for possible use as artificial muscle; smaller-than-ever autonomous devices; sensors that communicate wirelessly; intracellular monitoring of cellular processes and regulation of free radicals; polymer films for flexible solar cells; new fuel-cell materials, and more.

Go to Virginia Tech's website