Editor's Note: This story was corrected to reflect that the Department of Basic Science was established and first led by Timothy Johnson.

ROANOKE, Va., March 4, 2015 – The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has announced a reorganization of its Department of Basic Science, a move designed to more closely align medical educators and researchers in the basic sciences. 

The new unit will be called the Department of Biomedical Science and will be chaired by Michael Friedlander, the school’s senior dean for research. Friedlander also serves as executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and associate provost for health sciences at Virginia Tech.

The announcement is one of several organizational changes the school is making.

“Now that the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has achieved many key milestones, including full accreditation, we have the opportunity to further grow and strengthen the basic sciences,” said Cynda Johnson, founding dean of the school. “Our first-rate team of medical educators, which includes our basic science faculty, has been an integral part of our success.”

The department was established and first led by Timothy Johnson. Most recently, it has been chaired by Ludeman Eng, who will step down this spring. Eng will remain in his positions as an associate professor at the school as well as at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine until his retirement at the end of December.

“Dr. Eng has made significant contributions to the school through his development and leadership of the department,” Johnson said.

Friedlander has previously served as a medical school department chair both at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and at Baylor College of Medicine.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s basic science department has 57 members and will grow under the new configuration. The school will hire several new faculty members during the coming year.

“Although these biomedical scientists will primarily contribute to the school’s medical education mission, they’ll also be involved in biomedical research, working closely with faculty in the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, thus the reason for the departmental name change,” Johnson said.

Current basic science faculty will also have more opportunities to contribute to collaborative research between the medical school, the research institute, Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus, and Carilion Clinic, Johnson said.

Friedlander has served on several major national panels on improving medical and scientific education. In 2012, the Association of American Medical Colleges named him a Distinguished Service Member for his many years of service on a range of committees and task forces, including the AAMC Task Force on Conflicts of Interest between Industry and Medicine and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute/AAMC Task Force on the Scientific Foundations of Future Physicians. He served as chair of the association’s Council of Academic Societies from 2006 to 2007 and as a member of its Executive Council from 2005 to 2008.

Most recently, Friedlander has served on the association’s Advisory Committee for the MR5, the fifth comprehensive review of the Medical College Admission Test. Based on that committee's work, starting this year, aspiring doctors will need more than a solid basis in the natural sciences; they also will need an understanding of the psychology, sociology, and biology that underpin the human and social components of health.

Friedlander has also served as the founding director of several doctoral programs, including Virginia Tech’s Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health program, which enrolled its first class of students last fall. In addition, Friedlander has been a principal investigator on several National Institutes of Health pre-doctoral training grants, most recently the Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) award, supported through the National Institutes of Health’s Strengthening the Biomedical Research Workforce program. BEST awards fund innovative approaches to increasing student and trainee exposure to research-related career options.

“Dr. Friedlander is dedicated to our overarching goal of training physicians who will be excellent clinicians and who continuously incorporate knowledge gained from the practice of research and scientific inquiry into their everyday practice of medicine,” Johnson said.

By Catherine Doss
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