From VT News | March 3, 2020

Matt Hulver will join the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech as executive director, effective May 10.

In his new role, Hulver will shape the new vision and programs of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute by leveraging existing strength and developing a strategic plan to enhance resources for Virginia Tech’s life sciences community. Hulver will report to the vice president of Virginia Tech’s Office of Research and Innovation.

“Hulver is an experienced and compelling leader whose passion for the institute’s research and scholarly mission will energize faculty, students, and staff,” said Don Taylor, interim vice president of Virginia Tech’s Office of Research and Innovation. “I am very excited about the future of the institute under his visionary leadership. I want to thank Dean Sally Morton from the College of Science for serving as interim director of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute.”

The Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech is an instrument of strategic university investment committed to enhancing the quality, quantity, and competitiveness of life sciences research, education, and outreach across Virginia Tech and the world. Residents of the institute’s five flagship buildings (Steger Hall, Fralin Hall, Latham Hall, Integrated Life Sciences Building, and Life Sciences 1) are automatically considered affiliated faculty members.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to lead an organization focused on some of the most pressing global challenges of our time with the institute’s talented faculty and staff. I look forward to capitalizing on existing strengths, developing new strengths, and working to elevate the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech’s reputation as a premier life sciences institution,” Hulver said.

Hulver’s specific duties will include overseeing investments, including recruitment and start-up support for new faculty members, retention and recognition of established faculty members, investments in thematic research centers, seed funds for new research projects, equipment purchases, graduate student recruitment and support, undergraduate research support, and support for outreach activities.

Research initiatives within the life sciences receiving support include global change, coastal studies, plant sciences, infectious disease, drug discovery, ecology and organismal biology, molecular and cellular biology, and cancer biology. Hulver will continue to identify and support cutting-edge research areas and to build a thriving research enterprise.

“Every day at the Fralin Life Sciences Institute our scientists demonstrate the power of fusing expertise from multiple disciplines to tackle critical global issues,” Morton said. “Dr. Hulver understands the Fralin mission, and his collaborative approach will carry the work to even greater heights.”

Hulver and the institute will be actively engaged in cooperative partnerships with colleges, departments, and other institutes that also support the life science community. Faculty who take part in institute-sponsored activities —  including participation in institute-funded centers and focus areas, use of core facilities housed and supported by the institute, and involvement in institute-supported graduate and undergraduate programs — are invited to become affiliated faculty members.

“I was privileged to be the founding director of the original Fralin Life Sciences Institute 12 years ago and have immensely enjoyed working with Dean Morton to establish the newly configured and much larger enterprise,” said Dennis Dean, associate director of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and a University Distinguished Professor. “I am delighted that Dr. Hulver has now been named executive director of the institute. I am confident he has the vision and energy to provide strong and effective leadership to the research community.”

Hulver was previously assistant dean of health sciences and the head of the Department of the Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. Hulver is also one of the leaders of the Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors located at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

“I grew up, academically, at Virginia Tech, and the Fralin Life Sciences Institute played an important role in my development as a faculty member and afforded me multiple leadership opportunities,” Hulver  said.

His research focuses on the threat of lifestyle-related diseases – which are conditions that are caused or aggravated by a person’s own behavior. Since he has been at Virginia Tech, Hulver has led and collaborated on initiatives that explored metabolic changes to a variety of factors, including dietary change; environmental influences; and chronic disease conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Prior to becoming a faculty member at Virginia Tech, Hulver served an appointment at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as an assistant professor of research. There, he led a lab focused on understanding the role of abnormal skeletal muscle metabolism in the pathology of chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Hulver maintains membership in myriad lifestyle-related disease societies, including the American Diabetes Association and The Obesity Society. He has led and participated in collaborative research efforts that have garnered continuous funding for more than 14 years from industry sources and such agencies as the National Institutes of Health and American Diabetes Association. Hulver has spoken around the country about his nutrition and metabolism research and has served on numerous grant review panels and study sections.

Hulver holds a bachelor’s degree in fitness management from Marietta College, a master’s degree from McDaniel College in exercise science, and a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from the University of Kansas.

Kristin Rose
(540) 231-6614