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VCOM's research mission is to advance scientific knowledge to improve human health

To reach our mission, VCOM fosters a culture of faculty growth and institutional excellence through support of faculty, resident, and student research, innovation, and scholarly work. Through the College's research programs, multidisciplinary biomedical, clinical, and community-based research is conducted.

Research Administration

Gunnar Brolinson, DO, Vice Provost for Research
Jim Mahaney, PhD, Associate Dean for Biomedical Affairs and Research
Kenny Brock, PhD, DVM, MS, Associate Dean for Biomedical Affairs and Research
Harold "Skip" Garner, PhD, Associate Vice Provost for Research Development and Interim Associate Dean for Biomedical Affairs and Research
Ning Cheng, MS, Research Statistician
Eryn Perry, MA, Director for Research; Director for VCOM Institutional Review Board
Greg Reaves, BS, Director for Office of Research Administration
Jennifer Arnold, BS, Grant Writer and Grant Development Officer, Carolinas and Louisiana
Jjmuller [at] (essica Muller), Grant Writer and Grant Development Officer, Auburn and Virginia
Debbie Geiger, BS, CIP®, IRB Coordinator

The Research Department serves to foster VCOM’s research mission by providing services to VCOM faculty, staff and affiliated academic partners in research administration, grant and contract stewardship, research compliance oversight and intellectual property management.  Most importantly, the Research Department facilitates the ability of VCOM’s faculty, staff and students to engage in research, innovation and scholarship. 

Within the Research Department, the Office of Research Administration maintains an infrastructure for all research and sponsored projects, including identification of funding opportunities, proposal and budget development, contract negotiation and financial administration. The Research Department Tech Transfer Office champions the development of intellectual property by assisting VCOM faculty, staff and students in translating their scientific innovations into tangible products that benefit society.  In addition, the Research Department is charged with oversight and management of research compliance, such as the VCOM Institutional Review Board, as well as coordination of resources and promotion of research collaborations with our partners.

To foster interdisciplinary research collaboration and to support efforts to secure funding for such collaborations, the VCOM Research Department has established several strategic initiatives focused on research in areas concurrent with our overall College mission and goals.

Community Health Research Initiatives

The Research Department’s community health initiatives are closely matched with VCOM’s overall mission: for our student doctors to be community-focused and to engage in research that improves the health of underserved populations. Priorities here are focused on population-based research, primary care delivery and efficacy of care. Our goals for community health research are to:

  • Increase the evidence base for the practice of medicine.
  • Improve health care delivery and infrastructure in underserved communities.
  • Reduce prevalence of chronic diseases.
  • Increase partnerships with community groups in the areas we serve.
  • Encourage individuals to become active in their own care.

Global Health Research: VCOM’s international mission site infrastructure is built on community involvement, from the ministries of health to the participation of village community leaders. VCOM works closely with these communities through local universities, schools, churches, community clinics and orphanages. The excellent international relationships and the community trust VCOM has build over many years is what drives this international community health research initiative.

The focus is on conducting prevention and public health research with the goal of increasing the community members’ knowledge of healthy living, disease prevention and good nutrition as well as determining better access to care. Our research focus here includes infectious disease research, women’s and children’s health research and studies on improving access to healthcare.

Appalachian/Underserved Populations Health Research: There are many factors contributing to the prevailing health disparities and health issues in Appalachia, and there is a growing recognition that traditional research methods have not been successful in eliminating the disparities.  VCOM’s initiative for a more community-engaged research approach encourages our researchers to work together with community groups and members to assess local health issues as well as design, implement and evaluate culturally appropriate interventions designed to increase quality of life and well-being. Our focus is on public health awareness and primary healthcare delivery to underserved areas as well as examining the health disparities in chronic conditions and diseases prevalent in the areas. With our strong network of hospitals, area free clinics, ambulatory clinics and local community groups, VCOM is well positioned to become a leader in Appalachian and rural community-based health research.

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Techniques and Approach to Patient Care: Per the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the profession has an ethical and societal obligation to systematically study medical conditions and osteopathic treatment outcomes to determine better ways to improve patient health. Our initiative follows AOA’s strategic plan that encourages a culture of osteopathic research and looks to advance the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine. As part of this initiative, we are actively encouraging OMM community health wellness research, research into the treatment of chronic conditions and investigation of OMM techniques and efficacy.

Primary Care and Clinical Genetics Research Initiative

As the science of human genetics has expanded, there are an ever growing number of resources available to primary care physicians. Primary care physicians treat both acute and chronic illnesses with scientifically based interventions, preventive strategies  and one-on-one patient education; thus the primary care physician is in an ideal positon to treat patients for genetic disease. As such, it is crucial that primary care physicians be prepared on the principles of genetic medicine and instructed on how to include this research in their primary care practices. To meet this need, VCOM has established the Via Bioinformatics and Clinical Genetics Network, which is funded in part through a $1.1 million grant from the Via-Bradley College of Engineering Foundation.

The objectives of the network include the establishment a primary care clinical genetics research program throughout VCOM’s three campuses and with their clinical network partners. This network will engage, facilitate and instruct clinicians and students from the three VCOM campuses and their clinical network partners in human genetic and genomic research in their primary care practices. The research will span identification of patients with novel traits and diseases likely to be genetic in origin, establish collaborations between clinician researchers and basic genetic researchers and deploy best practices for dissemination and utilization of this information in clinical practice.

In addition, a bioinformatics research network to support clinical genetics research will be developed.  This network will promote health and wellness research activities, and faculty within the network and those at VCOM campuses will work together to conduct translational research that will determine best practices in the treatment of diseases.  Specifically, this network will develop new tools, databases, algorithms and approaches to advance basic and applied research in monogenetic and complex polygenic diseases and traits.