$50 million donation leads to newly renamed Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke

Money will support recruiting and retaining world-leading biomedical researchers

By Alison Wickline - Reporter

ROANOKE - The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute has a new name. After a record donation, the institute is now called the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

"An exciting day for Roanoke. It's also an exciting day for the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Gov. Ralph Northam. 

Positive words and praise from Northam were spurred by a historic donation to Virginia Tech. The Horace G. Fralin charitable trust, along with Heywood and Cynthia Fralin, donated $50 million to support research at the newly renamed Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke. 

"Everybody's mission should be to leave things better than we found them. That's what we all should be doing," said Heywood Fralin. 

The Fralin family have now made the most generous donation in the history of Virginia Tech, twice as large as any other single gift to the university.

During a packed ceremony today, city and state leaders spoke about the importance of the research institute and the impact of such a big investment.

"I think this is a marker and a milestone for where we're headed as a community," said Tim Sands, president of Virginia Tech. 

The institute is continuously growing, with its newest building set to open in the spring of 2020. From brain research and behavioral research to neuroscience and cancer studies, it covers a wide range of health issues. The institute's executive director says the donation will help recruit and retain highly-qualified biomedical researchers, which will lead to more research growth and success.

"It will help us bring more people here, the kind of people we want. It will help us garner more resources. It's a catalyst in many ways," said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedial Research Institute. 

Officials believe this donation will also help boost the local economy and encourage infrastructure upgrades.

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