X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology at Virginia Tech, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States. 

Meng, a virologist in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, is one of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries recognized for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

He is the fifth faculty member to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences while at Virginia Tech and the sixth in the university’s history. With the selection of Meng, 23 Virginia Tech affiliates have held membership in the national academies, one of the highest honors bestowed in the United States to scientists and engineers.

“Dr. Meng’s extraordinary research on emerging and re-emerging animal viruses is bringing national and international acclaim to Virginia Tech,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “His groundbreaking research led to the discovery of new viruses and the invention of a commercially licensed vaccine that is now in use around the world. His work is revolutionizing the way scientists and physicians think about human and animal viruses. We are lucky to have such an accomplished researcher and scholar at Virginia Tech.”

Meng’s research focuses on emerging and reemerging viral diseases that impact veterinary and human public health. Meng is widely considered one of the world’s leading scientists in hepatitis E virus, porcine circovirus type 2, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. Meng’s lab developed the first U.S. Department of Agriculture fully-licensed vaccine to protect against porcine circovirus type 2 infection and its associated diseases in pigs, a major threat to the global swine industry. In addition, Meng discovered the swine hepatitis E virus in pigs, which led to the recognition of hepatitis E as a zoonotic disease.

“We have long recognized Dr. Meng’s important contributions to the field of molecular virology and are delighted to hear of his recent election to the National Academy of Sciences,” said Cyril Clarke, dean of the veterinary college. “This honor not only recognizes the national and international reach of Dr. Meng’s scholarship, but also raises the visibility of his outstanding research program at the veterinary college. As a world-class scholar, Dr. Meng is a tremendous asset to our college and community.”

Meng has authored or co-authored more than 290 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. These have been cited more than 18,380 times by other researchers. Meng has been awarded more than 40 research grants as a principal investigator with more than $15 million, and he is also a co-investigator or collaborator on more than 50 other awarded grants of more than $27 million.

In 2014, Meng was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and in 2013, he became the first faculty member at the veterinary college to be named a University Distinguished Professor. He received the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence in 2008 and the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence in 2001 and then again in 2008. Meng was also elected to American Academy of Microbiology in 2012.

A native of Qingdao, China, Meng earned a medical degree from Binzhau Medical College and master’s degree in microbiology and immunology at Wuhan University College of Medicine. He then completed a Ph.D. in immunobiology from Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to joining the Virginia Tech faculty, he worked as the John E. Fogarty Visiting Scientist and a senior staff fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council — provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

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