Virginia Tech devolves Biocomplexity Institute after departure of executive director

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -- When former executive director Chris Barrett and many of his faculty members left for the University of Virginia last August, Virginia Tech's Biocomplexity Institute was left with holes that were going to be tough to fill.

"We did lose some dear friends and some great colleagues that were very productive," said Dennis Dean, director of the Fralin Life Science Institute. "However, we didn't lose the infrastructure. We didn't lose our investment capital. What we gained was an opportunity to re-think, re-direct and now implement."

Implement a new initiative, which will transfer the Biocomplexity Institute's resources to the Fralin Life Sciences Institute.

It's a move that is intended to share facilities and ideas among multiple colleges and departments across campus, allowing faculty to pool research that was, for the most part, kept separated.

"[We're] bringing together people from different disciplines, different approaches of study, and world-class facilities, world-class tools and creating an environment in which discovery of new life sciences research will happen," said university spokesman Mark Owczarski.

The revamped Fralin institute will perform a nationwide search for a new executive director this summer.

In the meantime, Dean said the timing of this change coincides with expected growth and hiring, both on the Blacksburg campus and at Virginia Tech's Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke.

"If they find and create an exciting new direction of research, we have the ability to further support it, bring in new experts and recruit new faculty, invest in their work," said Owczarski, "which will all lead to new discovery and new enhancements, improvements for humankind."