Virginia Tech leaders, key partners, and government officials formally opened the $90-million, 139,000-square-foot Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC addition at 4 Riverside Circle in Roanoke on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
“This expansion will keep Virginia Tech researchers at the forefront of biomedical discovery,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “The extraordinary growth of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC is expanding our capacity to improve human health, educate the next generation of leading scientists, create new jobs in STEM-related fields, and serve as a catalyst for economic growth in the commonwealth.”
Already richly equipped with leading-edge research instrumentation and brand-new laboratories for up to 25 research teams, the building has been operational for a year.
“This state-of-the-art new facility, equipped with the most advanced technology and spaces for research on some of the most pressing health challenges facing us today, demonstrates the commitment of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Carilion Clinic to discovery and translation in the service of the nation’s health, and points to the even greater potential that lies before us,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology.
With wet laboratories, meeting spaces, and offices to accommodate 400 additional researchers, students, and support staff, the addition is also home to:
- Virginia Tech’s Molecular Diagnostics Lab, which has processed more than 160,000 COVID-19 tests since April, 2020.
- Five new faculty-led research teams studying cardiovascular disease and cancer.
- MRI-guided focused ultrasound facility.
- The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Cancer Care and Research Center.
- 3D- and bio-printing laboratories.
- Human metabolism research facilities, including whole-room calorimeters.
- Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Health Sciences and Technology library.
- New high resolution imaging core facilities, including a scanning block face electron microscope, a spinning disk confocal microscope, and multiple MRI, PET, and CT imaging devices for visualizing living tissues.
- Virginia Tech Center for Biostatistics Health Data Science.
- Classrooms for Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic.
After several years of construction, the grand opening punctuates the success of the Virginia Tech Carilion partnership, following a 2016 appropriation of $45 million by the Virginia General Assembly to support the new development.
“This is yet another significant achievement among many we share with Virginia Tech,” said Nancy Howell Agee, Carilion Clinic’s president and CEO. “Our partnership has been wildly successful and we’ll continue to work together to shape our region’s future.”
The LEED Silver-certified building designed by AECOM also features state-of-the-art sustainability features, including a meadow garden roof that prevents flooding. Rainwater captured on the roof is recycled and reused, cutting the facility’s water consumption by two-thirds.
Set in the heart of the Roanoke Innovation Corridor, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute is a major economic driver in the region, currently employing more than 400 researchers, staff, and trainees. Founded in 2010, the institute has 37-faculty led research teams, which have cumulatively published more than 1,000 discoveries in leading scientific journals and currently hold $140 million in active research grants and contracts with over $200 million in grants awarded.
“This is where we attract leading talent from across the globe, and develop the next generation of leaders who will take our vision even farther,” Sands said.
The ribbon cutting ceremony has been live-streamed, recorded, and archived on the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s website.