Michael J. Friedlander, the founding executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, has been named Virginia Tech’s inaugural vice president for health sciences and technology.

Friedlander will continue as executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and his new responsibilities call for him to lead a dynamic network that connects and enhances health science-related work across the university, according to Thanassis Rikakis, Virginia Tech’s executive vice president and provost.

“Through this position, Dr. Friedlander will lead our efforts to develop a ‘beyond boundaries’ approach to continue the expansion and evolution of our curriculum, research, and engagement at the intersection of health sciences and technology,” Rikakis said. “We will also expand our public-private partnerships and attract an increasing number of industry and community partners through his efforts.”

The health sciences and technology initiative will grow the partnership with Carilion Clinic and capitalize on the health care-related resources and activities at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and other colleges and research institutes. It will also connect to the National Capital Region, which is expected to provide resources in computation as well as data, electronic health record, and social science analytics.

“We are adding a coordinated, focused approach to growth in the health sciences, building on our historical excellence in engineering, computation, technology, and our established strengths in selected areas of the biomedical sciences, life sciences, and health sciences’ research,” Friedlander said. “We are going to differentiate ourselves at the interface of health science and technology across the whole Virginia Tech system, including Blacksburg, Roanoke, and Arlington.”

Although the health sciences and technology initiative stretches across all university campuses, Friedlander’s appointment dovetails with plans for a Virginia Tech Carilion Health Science and Technology Expansion Building in Roanoke.

“There has been so much value in the partnership between Virginia Tech and Carilion, we’re glad to be able continue ramping up southwest Virginia’s profile as a place to be for medical research by building infrastructure and bringing in more people,” Friedlander said. “The district isn’t only a physical entity. It’s not confined to one place, but will instead help to combine the research interests and resources for the best science.”

As associate provost for health sciences, Friedlander led the development of Virginia Tech’s new faculty of health sciences and a university-wide doctoral program in translational biology, medicine, and health. A professor of biological sciences and of biomedical engineering and sciences, Friedlander serves as the senior dean for research at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, where he will continue to be chair of the Department of Biomedical Science and remain a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine.

Friedlander’s research programs have been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health for more than 30 years. In his laboratory at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Friedlander studies the cellular processes that underlie learning in the brain in health, during development, and after traumatic brain injury.

A past president and Distinguished Scientist Award honoree of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Friedlander has served as the associate editor for neuroscience of the Journal of Experimental Biology and Medicine, on the editorial boards of the Journal of Neuroscience, Frontiers in Neuroscience, and Eye and Brain. He is also a distinguished service member of the Association of American Medical Colleges as well as a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in neuroscience, the William Menninger Memorial Award for Achievement in the Science of Mental Health, and the University of Illinois Distinguished Alumnus Award in Molecular and Integrative Physiology.  In February, Virginia Business named him one of the 50 most influential Virginians.

Friedlander received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Florida State University and a doctorate in physiology and biophysics from the University of Illinois. 

Share this story