X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology at Virginia Tech, has received the 2017 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award.

The award, sponsored by the Dominion Foundation, is the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty in Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities, recognizing their commitment to excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration, and public service.

Meng, who is a virologist in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, is one of 12 faculty members given the 2017 award, selected from 97 nominees. He will be recognized at an award ceremony on Feb. 16 at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.

Since the award began three decades ago in 1987, 31 faculty members from Virginia Tech have received the recognition. See a complete listing.

Meng studies emerging and re-emerging viral diseases that impact veterinary and human public health. He is widely considered one of the world’s leading scientists on hepatitis E virus, porcine circovirus type 2, and porcine reproductive and respiration syndrome virus.

His laboratory 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.

Meng also discovered swine hepatitis E virus in pigs, which led to a paradigm shift and the recognition of hepatitis E as a zoonotic disease that can infect across the species barrier.

“Dr. Meng is a world-class faculty member,” said Cyril Clarke, dean of the veterinary college. “In addition to the international reputation he has achieved in the area of molecular virology research, he is an accomplished mentor of students and faculty colleagues, and makes important contributions to the college and university through his service on committees and engagement in strategic planning.”

Throughout his career, Meng has earned numerous awards and honors for his accomplishments. Earlier this year, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States.

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 2008. Meng was also elected to American Academy of Microbiology in 2012.

Meng has authored or co-authored more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. According to Google Scholar, these have been cited more than 20,554 times by other researchers.

Meng has been awarded more than 46 research grants as a principal investigator totaling more than $17 million, and he is also a co-investigator or collaborator on more than 57 other awarded grants of more than $28 million. Meng is a named inventor on 21 awarded and 17 pending U.S. patents, as well as 40 awarded foreign patents on various virus vaccines and diagnostics.

In addition to his research and scholarly accomplishments, Meng is passionate about teaching and finds time to be the course leader for three graduate and veterinary courses and an instructor for another course.

He has served as the major professor for 20 graduate students and on the graduate advisory committee for 58 other students. After working in Meng’s laboratory, students often continue their postdoctoral training at prestigious institution, such as Stanford Medical School, the National Institutes of Health, and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

Meng is also actively involved in university and professional service. He has served on more than 65 different committees at Virginia Tech, in leadership positions for 23 national and international committees and organizations, and as a member of more than 30 other national and international committees.

He is currently editor-in-chief or editor for four prestigious international journals. Meng also serves on the board of directors and as president of the Chin-Min Hsiang Education Foundation and on the board of directors of the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Meng’s record in knowledge integration includes the development of new courses and a new graduate training program. He has served as founding director of the National Institutes of Health-funded T32 Ph.D. graduate training program at Virginia Tech since 2004. He has also written chapters for several popular textbooks and more than 25 invited review articles.

In addition to delivering more than 68 keynote speeches and invited seminars across the globe, Meng has appeared on numerous local and national media outlets discussing West Nile virus, swine flu outbreaks, food safety, and other topics.

A native of Gaomi in Shandong province, China, Meng earned a medical degree from Binzhou Medical University 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 his arrival at Virginia Tech, 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.

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