Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences named Stefan Roberts as head of the Department of Biochemistry.

Before coming to Virginia Tech, Roberts served as interim department head and professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of Bristol, England, where he managed departmental and leadership responsibilities and conducted research.

His research focus is in understanding molecular mechanisms by which transcriptional regulators control gene expression in normal cells and in cancer. His lab has made significant contributions to the fundamental mechanisms of transcription, which include the discovery of a new core promoter element that controls about 30 percent of human genes as well as contributions to understanding the emerging role of lipids in transcription control. This active research program has brought in $9 million in grants. He has published 79 peer-reviewed publications, trained 12 Ph.D. students, and was awarded the Tenovus Medal for Cancer Research.

“I will ensure that we continue to build and expand on our strong record of significant contributions to both research and teaching,” said Roberts, who started in the position earlier in September. "I look forward to the role and am fortunate to inherit a strong foundation to ensure a future with outstanding potential for biochemistry. Following the revolutions in omics and big data, the rapid developments in artificial intelligence are going to have a significant impact on both research and teaching. We must embrace these changes and ensure that we are ready for this new future.”

“I am excited to welcome Stefan to Virginia Tech as the biochemistry department head. Stefan brings an excellent track record of success along with a wealth of experience and scholarly achievements. We are looking forward to Stefan continuing the great work of the department,” said Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Before his tenure at the University of Bristol, he worked at the University of Buffalo. He received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry and physiology and his doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Sheffield. He then conducted postdoctoral work at UMASS Medical Center, University of Dundee, and the University of Manchester.

Roberts’ spouse, Kathryn Medler, has also accepted a faculty position in the School of Animal Sciences. Her earlier tenure was a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Buffalo.

He succeeds Peter Kennelly, professor of biochemistry, who served as interim department head since August 2022.

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