The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech has appointed Barry Whyte to lead its communication efforts.

Whyte joins VBI from Rochat & Partners, a public relations company in Geneva, Switzerland, where he has worked for the past five years for the biotechnology industry. At VBI, he will hold the position of Research Communications Officer, Senior Project Associate. In addition to his scientific training, Whyte has more than 10 years of experience in scientific communications serving both general and specialized audiences.

Bruno Sobral, executive and scientific director of VBI, said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome Dr. Whyte to the VBI team. He will be responsible for implementing our research-driven communication program that supports in full our internal and external activities. Communications impact everything we do, from the growth of our research programs to education, business development as well as liaison with national and international partners. I see communications as a key service that supports the institute’s development strategy and the way we go about achieving our multidisciplinary research objectives in the years ahead.”

Whyte has broad experience in editing and writing scientific communications for diverse audiences as well as working for the public and private sectors. At Rochat & Partners, he focused on the design and implementation of strategic communication programs for a host of private and publicly listed life science companies as well as an early-stage venture capital company.

Before joining Rochat & Partners, Whyte was employed by the United Nations in Geneva as editor for the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. For the Bulletin, an international journal devoted to public health, he was responsible for commissioning and writing news items, creating and maintaining the electronic version of the journal, and editing research and policy-related articles. From 1993 to 1997 he worked in Zürich, Switzerland, as editorial assistant at the European Journal of Biochemistry, an international journal publishing papers in all areas of the molecular life sciences.

Whyte holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Bristol in England. In 1989, he completed a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry before moving to University of California, Davis, to take up a position as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Professor Paul Castelfranco. From 1996 to 1997, he served as Secretary of the Nomenclature Committee of the International Union of Biology and Molecular Biology and the Joint Commission on Biochemical Nomenclature, a position which brought him into close contact with leading researchers in bioinformatics and biotechnology. He is a member of the European Association of Science Editors.

Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech has a research platform centered on understanding the “disease triangle” of host-pathogen-environment interactions. With almost $49 million in extramural research funding awarded to date, VBI researchers are working on many human, crop, and animal diseases.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.

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