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Morton takes reins of Fralin Life Sciences Institute on interim basis

In July, College of Science Dean Sally C. Morton was appointed interim director of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech.

She succeeded Dennis Dean, University Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and founding director of the new Fralin Life Sciences Institute, who opted to return to the operation of his laboratory and research program.

“Sally is a distinguished academician and university leader who will provide strength of leadership to the institute during this critical transition, while continuing to develop and advance the institute’s mission and research initiatives,” said Don Taylor, interim vice president for research and innovation, at the time of her appointment.

Morton was named Dean of the College of Science in 2016, joining Virginia Tech from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was chair of Biostatistics. She holds a doctoral degree in statistics from Stanford University. Prior to entering academia, Morton worked in health policy research at the RAND Corporation and RTI International.

 “Having spent much of my career on research related to life sciences, I know that the work at the Fralin Life Sciences Institute is essential to Virginia Tech and the communities we serve,” Morton said. “It’s an honor that I was asked to advance the institute’s work during this transition.”

Morton’s research focuses on evidence synthesis in a range of topics critical to addressing major clinical and societal issues, such as back pain, mental health, substance abuse, healthcare quality, and homelessness. She served as president of the American Statistical Association. In 2017, she received the Janet L. Norwood Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Statistical Sciences.

The search for and appointment of a permanent director is expected to take a year.

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