Graduate Catalog
2019-2020
 
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health
Interdisciplinary Academic Programs
This building houses the Fralin Biotechnology Center, which is an interdisciplinary research center at Virginia Tech whose purpose is to bring scientists from different disciplines together under one roof to solve some of biology more complex challenges.
Fralin Biotechnology Center
Degree(s) Offered:
• PhD
PhD Degree in Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Blacksburg
• MS
MS Degree in Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Blacksburg
Email Contact(s):
Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
540/526-2141
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Jan 15
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Department Head : Michael Friedlander
Graduate Program Director(s) : Steven Poelzing (Associate Professor, Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences), Michelle Theus (Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology)
Professors: Luke Achenie; S Ahmed; Katherine Allen; Joyce Arditti; Josep Bassaganya-Riera; Martha Ann Bell; Warren Bickel (Roanoke); Rosemary Blieszner; Paul Carlier; Daniel Crawford; Rafael Davalos; George Davis; Richey Davis; Kevin Davy; Dennis Dean; Harry Dorn; Felicia Etzkorn; Edward Ewing; Wu-Chun Feng; Michael Friedlander (Roanoke); Hampton Gabler; Harold Garner; Robert Gourdie (Roanoke ); Bernice Hausman; Lenwood Heath; Thomas Inzana; Honglin Jiang; Peter Kennelly; Mahmood Khan (National Capital Region); David Kingston; Liwu Li; David Lindsay; Dongmin Liu; Timothy Long; Achla Marathe; Xiang-Jin Meng; Joseph Merola; Pendleton Montague (Roanoke ); Maury Nussbaum; Craig Ramey (Roanoke); Sharon Ramey (Roanoke); Kerry Redican; Jeffrey Reed; Karen Roberto; Harald Sontheimer (Roanoke); Danesh Tafti; James Tanko; Pamela Teaster; Zhijian Tu; John Tyson; Yue Wang; Layne Watson; Richard Winett; Doris Zallen; Anisa Zvonkovic
Associate Professors: Zachary Adelman; Masoud Agah; Kathleen Alexander; Sheryl Ball; Jennifer Barrett; Daniel Capelluto; Daniela Cimini; Sarah Clinton; Lee Cooper; Linda Dahlgren; Megan Dolbin-MacNab; Julie Dunsmore; Alan Ealy; April Few-Demo; Carla Finkielstein; Michael Fox (Roanoke ); Deborah Good; Robert Grange; David Harrison; Richard Helm; Kathryn Hosig; William Huckle; Matthew Hulver; Sally Johnson; Christine Kaestle; Isis Kanevsky; Jungmeen Kim-Spoon; Michael Klemba; Stephen LaConte (Roanoke); Kevin Lahmers; Christopher Lawrence; Maria Lazar; Yong Lee; Stephen Melville; Ignacio Moore; Rolf Mueller; Biswarup Mukhopadhyay; Kevin Myles; Nadarajah Nanthakumar; Yuchin Pan (Roanoke); Robin Panneton; Steven Poelzing (Roanoke); Robin Queen; Padmavathy Rajagopalan; Robert Rhoads; Webster Santos; Jyoti Savla; Angela Scarpa-Friedman; Eva Schmelz; Elena Serrano; Igor Sharakhov; Cynthia Smith; Pablo Sobrado; Elankumaran Subbiah; Mark Van Dyke; Pamela VandeVord; Vincent Wang; Susan White; Hehuang Xie; Jianhua Xuan; Wen You; Lijuan Yuan; Jinsong Zhu; Jamie Zoellner
Assistant Professors: Kaja Abbas; Irving Allen; Fabio Almeida; Troy Anderson; Bahareh Behkam; Andrea Bertke; Lissett Bickford; Jerald Bowers; Guohua Cao; Maria Cassera; Clayton Caswell; John Chappell; Jing Chen; Zhiyong Cheng; Pearl Chiu (Roanoke); Mark Cline; Nikolaos Dervisis; Samer El-Kadi; Luis Escobar Quinonez; Madlyn Frisard; Elizabeth Gilbert; Julia Gohlke; Erika Grafsky; Samantha Harden; Silke Hauf; Jia-Qiang He; Timothy Jarome; Blake Johnson; Caroline Jones; Jatinder Josan; Benjamin Katz; Deborah Kelly (Roanoke); Brooks King-Casas (Roanoke); Shihoko Kojima; Nathan Lau; Kiho Lee; Xin Luo; William Mather; John Matson; Alexei Morozov (Roanoke ); Konark Mukherjee (Roanoke ); Amrinder Nain; Zachary Nimchuk; Kenneth Oestreich (Roanoke ); Alicia Pickrell; John Richey; Stefanie Robel (Roanoke); Birgit Scharf; Kendra Sewall; Zhi Sheng (Roanoke); Daniel Slade; James Smyth (Roanoke ); Divya Srinivasan; Michelle Theus; Gregorio Valdez (Roanoke); Scott Verbridge; Sujith Vijayan; Bin Xu
University Distinguished Professor: Dennis Dean; Karen Roberto
Alumni Distinguished Professor: Rosemary Blieszner
Research Assistant Professors: Sarah Parker (Roanoke)

Translational Biology, Medicine and Health Overview

The TBMH program has been designed to help address a national need for accelerating the pace of translation of biomedical discoveries into diagnostics, treatments, and cures, as well as their effective implementation. Major national organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health, Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, have called for new approaches to train biomedical and health scientists to achieve this goal, recognizing that today’s researchers must utilize interdisciplinary approaches, communicate across levels of inquiry, and be prepared for the diverse careers that drive today’s biomedical research enterprise.  Graduates of the TBMH program will be well prepared to take on these challenges and become tomorrow’s scientific leaders.

Through a combination of TBMH core and focus area-specific coursework, students will be trained to go deep at advanced levels in a particular area (just as in classic disciplines), but also to have the skills, confidence and intellectual breadth to identify today’s pressing health issues, and develop them in the framework and context of greater needs. This includes recognizing the likelihood of the adoption and application of translational discoveries, their cost, delivery, and related policy issues.

Students may specialize in in one of six focus areas:

  • Cancer
  • Development, Aging, and Repair
  • Health Implementation Science
  • Immunity and Infectious Disease
  • Metabolic and Cardiovascular Science
  • Neuroscience

Regardless of the focus area in which the students specialize, all graduates of the TBMH program will be able to:

  • Explain the stages of the translational research spectrum
  • Evaluate how multiple complex cellular and molecular factors influence physiological systems
  • Integrate and model the processes of healthful function across scales, from the molecular to the organismal, and the individual to the social network
  • Evaluate and compare published claims for the capacity to prevent or alter trajectories of unhealthy biological processes through genetic, pharmacological, behavioral and health systems interventions
  • Conceive new conceptual approaches or technological strategies for the identification and quantification of pathological processes, their prevention or treatment, and/or the effective implementation of such interventions.
  • Demonstrate effective written and oral communication of scientific concepts and data in translational biology, medical and health research.
  • Work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary environment, which may include basic scientists, translational scientists, clinicians, administrators, or policy makers.
  • Identify career opportunities for biomedical and translational scientists, and conduct one’s chosen professional activities in a responsible and ethical manner

Offered In (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:

Students pursuing a TBMH Ph.D. degree must earn a minimum of 100 credit hours beyond the  baccalaureate, including 31 credits of core coursework, 6 credits of elective coursework, and 63 credits of research and dissertation.  An M.S. degree is not required for admission to the program, though students with an M.S. are also eligible to apply. All coursework must be 5000-level and above. Students perform three research rotations  before selecting a thesis mentor at the end of the second semester of study. Students must select one of the program's "Focus Areas" by the end of the first semester.

Candidates are eligible for graduation upon successful completion of all core, elective, and research credits, as well as passing performance on the Qualifying Examination, Preliminary Examination (advancement to candidacy), and successful oral defense of a written dissertation.


Course Requirements
:
All students will be required to take the following core classes (31 credits):

  • TBMH 5004 Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (8 credits)
  • TBMH 50X4 Fundamentals in [Focus Area] (8 credits)
  • TBMH 5105 Professional Development and Ethics (2 credits)
  • TBMH 5106 Professional Development and Ethics (2 credits)
  • TBMH 5304 Research Experience in TBMH (2 x 3 credits = 6 credits)
  • TBMH 5204 Seminar in Translational Biology, Medicine and Health (4 x 1 credits = 4 credits)
  • TBMH 5404 Scientific Logic and Analysis (1 credit)

In addition, students must take the following:

  • Quantitative Elective (3 credits)
  • Free Elective (3 credits)
  • TBMH 7994 Research and Dissertation (63 credits)

 

Concentrations

Cancer

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in eliminating the suffering and death due to cancer, through research in cancer prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment interventions. Focus area-specific coursework will take an integrative, translational approach to all aspects of neoplastic disease, from its basis in molecular cell biology (including genetics, stem cells, invasion and metastasis, immune surveillance) to its diagnosis and treatment (biomarkers, drug design, screening, personalized medicine, surgical approaches), as well as its social, psychological, and economic consequences. Students will develop a solid foundation for pursuing interdisciplinary doctoral level research in cancer biology.

Development, Aging, and Repair

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in promoting a better quality of life through research into the biomedical and behavioral components of development and aging, as well as cutting edge technologies and methodologies for improving health in cases of developmental or age-related disorders and injuries. This focus area will emphasize processes critical to human biology and well-being across the lifespan. Students will develop a strong understanding of critical genetic, cellular, molecular, physiological, environmental and psychological aspects of human development, and how these processes go awry with aging, in order to best address how to repair them. Students will learn about multiple systems and techniques (including regenerative medicine). Faculty from diverse departments will come together to instruct students on the biological, psychological, social, and public policy components of the development and aging populations, as well as state of the art reparative approaches. Graduates will be well prepared to carry out innovative, interdisciplinary research to address critical challenges facing our developing and aging populations.

Health Implementation Science

Health Implementation Science is an emerging field strongly endorsed by the National Institutes of Health, The Institute of Medicine, and The National Research Council. It is located at far end of the clinical translational continuum -- focused on scientific inquiry about the “uptake” of major medical and health discoveries by practitioners and policymakers and their impact on the well-being of individuals and communities. Historically, the lag time from discovery of a major efficacious treatment to its actual clinical implementation has been estimated as 17 years, and many highly efficacious, affordable treatments are being implemented improperly, incompletely, and/or inequitably, thus failing to realize the benefits anticipated. Above all, there is grave concern that the mega-investments in basic science and clinical research are not yielding their full impact. In a now-seminal New England Journal of Medicine article, Zerhouni (2005), then Director of the National Institutes of Health, called for corrective action by creating “a new, vital, and reinforced academic discipline and home for translational and clinical science — along with an explicit effort to maximize the effectiveness of NIH resources directed to this area of research — to ensure that extraordinary scientific advances of the past decade will be rapidly captured, translated, and disseminated for the benefit of all Americans.” Students in the Health Implementation Science focus area will learn the basic terminology and approaches from a range of specialty fields -- including health literacy, information dissemination, health systems research, public health, community-based participatory research, health economics, and health disparities research – and explicitly connect them to conduct implementation science. Students will engage in case studies from all of the major basic biology, medicine, and health fields to understand the pathway from discovery of efficacious treatments or preventive interventions to their extension to clinical practice and the measurement of patient-oriented outcomes.

Immunity and Infectious Disease

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in performing research towards the understanding, prevention, and treatment of infectious and immunologic diseases. Track-specific coursework will take an integrative, translational approach to all aspects of infectious disease. They will learn about and discuss contemporary and emerging pathogens (viral, bacterial, and other), the human immune response, the development and delivery of novel diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as the social, psychological, and economic consequences of infectious and immune diseases. Students will develop a professional level of expertise in immunity and infectious disease, and learn to apply this knowledge to carry out innovative and interdisciplinary research to advance disease prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

Metabolic and Cardiovascular Science

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in improving health and quality of life through research on cardiovascular and metabolic health. Students will develop a comprehensive understanding of metabolic and cardiovascular physiology, and their interrelationship. This will include topics such as principle energy systems, appetite and energy expenditure, and cardiovascular function and regulation. Similar to other focus areas in the program, they will perform extensive analysis of primary literature and case studies covering the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and socioeconomic impact of cardiometabolic diseases (such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease) with an emphasis on the translation of basic scientific discoveries into practical applications.

Neuroscience

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in reducing the burden of neurological and mental health disorders through research. Students will develop an understanding of the normal biological processes that undergird healthy brain and cognitive function, the causes and mechanisms of dysregulation that lead to dysfunction, and current and evolving approaches to therapy and novel therapeutic development.  They will explore the inter-relationships of these processes at multiple levels at the intersection of brain biology, behavior, cognition, medicine and health and develop a strong foundation for pursuing doctoral level research in the brain and cognitive sciences.

Offered In (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
Students pursuing a TBMH M.S. degree must earn a minimum of 38 credit hours beyond the B. S. degree. Students will engage in research throughout both years in the program, while completing most of their core coursework by the end of year 1. Students will take an intensive “Gateway” course (TBMH 5004, 8 credits) in semester 1, where they will learn the fundamentals of biomedicine, physiological systems, and translational science. They will then select a focus area in semester 2 and take an equally intensive “Fundamentals” course (8 credits) covering in depth the fundamentals of that focus area, with heavy emphasis on translational exemplars and case studies. The six focus areas are: Neuroscience; Cancer; Health Implementation Science; Metabolic and Cardiovascular Science; Immunity and Infectious Disease; and Development, Aging, and Repair. Students will continue a core curriculum in parallel with their focus-area-specific coursework, which includes professional development, ethics, and statistics, as well as program retreats and presentations. In total, students will take 24 credits of core coursework, 3 credits quantitative requirement, and a minimum of 11 credits of thesis research.

Course Requirements:
All students will be required to take the following core classes (24 credits):

  • TBMH 5004 Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (8 credits)
  • TBMH 50X4 Fundamentals in [Focus Area] (8 credits)
  • TBMH 5105 Professional Development and Ethics (2 credits)
  • TBMH 5304 Research Experience in TBMH (2 x 3 credits = 6 credits)

In addition, students must take the following:

  • Quantitative Elective (3 credits)
  • TBMH 5994 Research and Dissertation (11 credits)

Concentrations

Cancer

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in eliminating the suffering and death due to cancer, through research in cancer prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment interventions. Focus area-specific coursework will take an integrative, translational approach to all aspects of neoplastic disease, from its basis in molecular cell biology (including genetics, stem cells, invasion and metastasis, immune surveillance) to its diagnosis and treatment (biomarkers, drug design, screening, personalized medicine, surgical approaches), as well as its social, psychological, and economic consequences. Students will develop a solid foundation for pursuing interdisciplinary research in cancer biology.

Development, Aging, and Repair

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in promoting a better quality of life through research into the biomedical and behavioral components of development and aging, as well as cutting edge technologies and methodologies for improving health in cases of developmental or age-related disorders and injuries. This focus area will emphasize processes critical to human biology and well-being across the lifespan. Students will develop a strong understanding of critical genetic, cellular, molecular, physiological, environmental and psychological aspects of human development, and how these processes go awry with aging, in order to best address how to repair them. Students will learn about multiple systems and techniques (including regenerative medicine). Faculty from diverse departments will come together to instruct students on the biological, psychological, social, and public policy components of the development and aging populations, as well as state of the art reparative approaches. Graduates will be well prepared to carry out innovative, interdisciplinary research to address critical challenges facing our developing and aging populations.

Health Implementation Science

Health Implementation Science is an emerging field strongly endorsed by the National Institutes of Health, The Institute of Medicine, and The National Research Council. It is located at far end of the clinical translational continuum -- focused on scientific inquiry about the “uptake” of major medical and health discoveries by practitioners and policymakers and their impact on the well-being of individuals and communities. Historically, the lag time from discovery of a major efficacious treatment to its actual clinical implementation has been estimated as 17 years, and many highly efficacious, affordable treatments are being implemented improperly, incompletely, and/or inequitably, thus failing to realize the benefits anticipated. Above all, there is grave concern that the mega-investments in basic science and clinical research are not yielding their full impact. In a now-seminal New England Journal of Medicine article, Zerhouni (2005), then Director of the National Institutes of Health, called for corrective action by creating “a new, vital, and reinforced academic discipline and home for translational and clinical science — along with an explicit effort to maximize the effectiveness of NIH resources directed to this area of research — to ensure that extraordinary scientific advances of the past decade will be rapidly captured, translated, and disseminated for the benefit of all Americans.” Students in the Health Implementation Science focus area will learn the basic terminology and approaches from a range of specialty fields -- including health literacy, information dissemination, health systems research, public health, community-based participatory research, health economics, and health disparities research – and explicitly connect them to conduct implementation science. Students will engage in case studies from all of the major basic biology, medicine, and health fields to understand the pathway from discovery of efficacious treatments or preventive interventions to their extension to clinical practice and the measurement of patient-oriented outcomes.

Immunity and Infectious Disease

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in performing research towards the understanding, prevention, and treatment of infectious and immunologic diseases. Track-specific coursework will take an integrative, translational approach to all aspects of infectious disease. They will learn about and discuss contemporary and emerging pathogens (viral, bacterial, and other), the human immune response, the development and delivery of novel diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as the social, psychological, and economic consequences of infectious and immune diseases. Students will develop a professional level of expertise in immunity and infectious disease, and learn to apply this knowledge to carry out innovative and interdisciplinary research to advance disease prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

Metabolic and Cardiovascular Science

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in improving health and quality of life through research on cardiovascular and metabolic health. Students will develop a comprehensive understanding of metabolic and cardiovascular physiology, and their interrelationship. This will include topics such as principle energy systems, appetite and energy expenditure, and cardiovascular function and regulation. Similar to other focus areas in the program, they will perform extensive analysis of primary literature and case studies covering the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and socioeconomic impact of cardiometabolic diseases (such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease) with an emphasis on the translation of basic scientific discoveries into practical applications.

Neuroscience

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in reducing the burden of neurological and mental health disorders through research. Students will develop an understanding of the normal biological processes that undergird healthy brain and cognitive function, the causes and mechanisms of dysregulation that lead to dysfunction, and current and evolving approaches to therapy and novel therapeutic development. They will explore the inter-relationships of these processes at multiple levels at the intersection of brain biology, behavior, cognition, medicine and health and develop a strong foundation for pursuing doctoral level research in the brain and cognitive sciences.

Facilities Introduction

According to the National Science Foundation annual survey of over 900 institutions, Virginia Tech continues to rank in the top 5 percent of colleges and universities in research and development expenditures. The university received almost $300 million in grant awards in FY2012, and over $450 million in research expenditures over that same year. Virginia Tech is ideally positioned to train the next generation of translational scientists to fulfill the innovative, interdisciplinary, and collaborative research needs of the future, as it merges strengths in the life sciences, social sciences, bioinformatics, and engineering, with an expanding biomedical and health research enterprise. This includes a recent $150 million investment in the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, located in Roanoke, Virginia.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program and the diversity of the faculty mentors and instructors (including clinical faculty who will instruct in courses and participate in student thesis advisory committees), students will have access to a broad range of Virginia Tech's research and instructional facilities located in both Blacksburg and Roanoke.

Participating colleges include:

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • College of Engineering, including the Virginia Tech Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • College of Natural Resources and Environment
  • College of Science
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Students have the opportunity to participate in research rotations with three different research groups before selecting a thesis mentor, and may select from participating faculty at Virginia Tech’s facilities in Blacksburg or Roanoke. The two campuses are conveniently interconnected through a free university shuttle system with onboard wireless internet, as well as via the Smart Way Commuter Bus. Both locations also utilize state of the art interactive videoconferencing technology to assist with multi-site course instruction and student thesis committee meetings, as well as for transmitting visiting guest lectures and seminar series between campuses.

 

 

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