Leslie LaConte has been named associate dean for research at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM).

LaConte will further develop the school’s comprehensive, four-year research education curriculum, continuing to work in collaboration with the school’s senior dean for research, Michael Friedlander. Additionally, LaConte will work closely with the administration of the medical school, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, the Virginia Tech Office of Research and Innovation, and Carilion Clinic to advance and facilitate the research activity of VTCSOM faculty. 

“I’m very passionate about the potential that VTCSOM brings to broadening our understanding about what research in a medical school can represent. A lot of medical schools focus on biomedical and lab-based translational research. We are very fortunate to be in an environment where that has already been built up in an amazing way by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and across many departments in Blacksburg,” LaConte said. “What our school can do differently is focus on implementation science. We are working with people who have already made these discoveries. Now we’re trying to put them into action in the health care setting to improve quality of life for physicians, patients, and the community as a whole. There’s really no medical school that is focused so specifically on the intersection of discovery and implementation.”

LaConte was also recently appointed director, foundational science curriculum, a role that provides oversight for the integration of research education and other curricular domains in the first- and second-years of the M.D.-granting program. 

“Dr. LaConte’s promotion comes at an opportune time,” said Lee Learman, dean of VTCSOM.  “In addition to continuing to develop our research curriculum for medical students, Dr. LaConte will support the growth of our research program investigating how best to disseminate and implement scientific discoveries to improve the health of patients and communities.” 

LaConte joined the faculty at VTCSOM and in 2011. She holds faculty appointments as an associate professor of basic science education at VTCSOM and as associate research professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. 

“It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. LaConte in developing the research value domain of the school of medicine curriculum from the beginning of the program in 2010,” said Friedlander, who is also Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology and executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. “I was delighted that we were able to recruit her to join the program at the very outset as an innovative teacher and emerging leader to develop the curriculum and the overall medical student research experiences into the successful national models that they have become.  

“She has embraced her increasing senior leadership role at the school of medicine with dedication, innovation, and gusto, earning the respect of the students and her colleagues. Moreover, Dr. LaConte is emerging on the national stage as a recognized leader in medical education and as such is strategically positioned for this well-earned recognition and promotion.”

LaConte’s research interests lie in the field of structural biology. She teaches cell biology and related basic science topics within the medical student curriculum and also within the graduate education programs at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. She has won numerous teaching and advising awards, published numerous peer reviewed journal articles, and made multiple presentations at local, regional, national, and international scientific meetings.

“Our students work with mentors in schools across Virginia Tech, at the research institute, and at Carilion Clinic, so it has given me an opportunity to really appreciate the research landscape. Now, I’m able to broaden my focus to not just support medical school student research opportunities but to grow research opportunities at the medical school as a whole,” she said. “I’ll be helping faculty build research programs and support the research that is already going on here. Our focus early on will be the extreme potential we see in the departments of Health Systems and Implementation Science and Basic Science Education.”

LaConte earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Denver, a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota, and did postdoctoral work at the Georgia Institute of Technology. 


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