Medical school to become Tech’s ninth college

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Students study anatomy at the Virginia Tech Carilion School
of Medicine in Roanoke. Courtesy Virginia Tech

If all goes as planned, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke will become part of Virginia Tech in about two years, making it the university’s ninth college. The medical school now is an independent institution, formed as a joint venture between Tech and Roanoke-based Carilion Clinic.

The medical school and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute will serve as the foundation of the expanded Virginia Tech Carilion Health Science and Technology Campus in Roanoke.

The move is expected to benefit research efforts at Tech and Carilion while giving the medical school access to more funding.

“Our school is a research-intensive medical school and to be able to identify that research you have to be part of the university. That was one of the drivers,” says Nancy Howell Agee, Carilion Clinic’s president and CEO. “We think this will create some new opportunities for a closer partnership to identify research and have more students from Virginia Tech take classes at the VTC Health Science and Technology Campus in Roanoke.” Agee anticipates 500 to 1,000 Tech students will take health sciences-related classes in Roanoke.

The first class of medical school students arrived in 2010 and graduated in 2014. Each of the school’s three graduating classes has a 100 percent residency “match” rate, meaning all graduates were accepted into residency programs. That distinction is making the school attractive to top students.

“Last year we had more than 4,600 applicants from the best schools around the country vie for 42 spots at the medical school,” says Tech President Tim Sands. “The number of applicants keeps growing.”

A $66 million expansion of VTC Research Institute will double its space and increase the number of research teams. “We plan to add five research teams led by physician-scientists,” says Agee. “We want to ensure significant research opportunity as well as clinical opportunity for students.”

Research will concentrate on five strategic areas: biomaterials and body-device interfaces, brain health and disease, cardiovascular science, infectious diseases and immunity, and metabolism and obesity. The research institute is already known internationally for its brain research.

Twenty-five research teams have received more than $68 million of funding from outside sources since the institute’s founding in 2010.  In addition to creating several startup companies, it has had an estimated economic impact of more than $300 million on the region. 

“We have made an impact on the community,” says Sands. “We are going to use this opportunity at the Research Institute to help build the Roanoke community. We are focusing not only on recruiting world-class talent but also on people that want to be part of the community and make it stronger.”

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