Virginia Tech® home

Center for Health Behaviors Research

Insert your title here

About the Center for Health Behaviors Research

The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Center for Health Behaviors Research uses research to help prevent and treat lifestyle-related diseases. The center focuses on three styles of research: neurobiology and decision-making sciences, molecular and clinical metabolic sciences, and implementation, dissemination, and health policy sciences. This innovative center works to achieve great synergy of research on lifestyle-related diseases with strong collaboration from investigators at the Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences and Technology campus in Roanoke, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, faculty in the College of Science, and Carilion Clinic. Partnership growth is anticipated with faculty from multiple colleges and institutes, given the broad expanse of the Center’s research interests, from physiology to policy.





RFA - Pilot feasibility (P/F) for VT/Carilion collaborations and health behaviors related studies 

In a partnership with the Carilion Clinic Research Acceleration Program (RAP), the office of the Virginia Tech Vice President of Health Sciences and Technology, and the CHBR, we will fund up to three health behavior related P/F studies up to $20,000/year that demonstrate a high likelihood of future extramural funding. 

Research Focus:  P/F studies focused on areas of research related to health behaviors are designed to provide initial project support for new investigators; allow for exploration of possible innovative new directions for established investigators that represent a significant departure from ongoing funded research; and stimulate investigators from other areas of endeavor to use their expertise for health behaviors research. 

Proposals should align with the mission of Carilion Clinic—to improve the health of the communities we serve and also seek to advance care through medical education and research—and with the mission and foci of the CHBR. Our mission is to conduct and disseminate transformative health behaviors research with the primary objective of preventing and treating life-style related disease. The primary foci of the CHBR include: 

1. Behavioral and neurobiological contributors to health decisions - Examples include: neural and behavioral manipulations and bases of metabolic disease (obesity, prediabetes, and diabetes), eating and physical activity behaviors, addiction, and medical adherence.

2. Molecular and clinical studies of metabolism - Examples include: molecular and cellular mechanisms of metabolic disease; clinical relevance and efficacy of basic discoveries; and mechanisms of variation in responses to interventions (e.g., physical activity, behavioral, pharmaceutical, and dietary interventions).

3. Implementation and dissemination of evidence-based programming; and health policy - Examples include: nutrition and physical activity – across the lifespan; behavioral economics; built environment; food insecurity; food and beverage marketing.

Eligibility: P/F funding is intended to support collaborative proposals from full-time Virginia Tech faculty members and Carilion Clinic health practitioners. Investigators will be expected to follow their projects up with an extramural grant submission in order to be eligible for additional future funding through this program. Funding will only be awarded to applications that are collaborations between Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic. Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate a high likelihood of future extramural funding.  

For potential investigators interested in finding collaborators, please contact Drs. Bickel, DiFeliceantonio, or Stein. 

Eligible investigators include: 

  • new investigators without current or past extramural research project support;
  • established investigators with no previous work in health behaviors research;
  • established investigators in health behaviors with a proposal to test an innovative idea representing a significant departure from ongoing, externally funded projects; and
  • post-doctoral fellows with a co-investigator who is senior faculty mentor who has a strong record of extramural funding as a PI in an area related to the proposed research, and who will agree to provide guidance throughout the conduct of the proposed study.


  • Please provide a letter of intent, to include: title, PI(s), and an abstract (<500 words) that highlight the background and significance, hypothesis, specific aims, experimental design and procedures of the project by December 1, 2021. Please also provide an NIH biographical sketch for PI(s) with the letter of intent.
  • Invitations for complete proposals will be made no later than January 12, 2022
  • Final applications will be due April 13, 2022, and should be a maximum of seven pages using the NIH R21 format (1 page, Specific Aims; 6 pages, Research Strategy).
  • Awardees will be notified of funding no later than May 18, 2022.
  • The funding period will be July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023, and a timeline for completion of proposed work should be included in the final proposal.
  • Letters of intent, NIH biographical sketches and final applications are to be emailed to

Investigators are encouraged to contact Drs. Warren Bickel (, Alex DiFeliceantonio (, or Jeff Stein ( to determine eligibility and the appropriateness of the project. Acceptance of funding will indicate agreement to submit a grant application for extramural funding to continue the project, and to provide a written final report. 

Interested in participating in research on energy expenditure?

The Center for Health Behaviors Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion, located in Roanoke, is conducting a research study in which participants will undergo 2 different types of measurements of metabolic rate and drink flavored beverages or consume foods. Your involvement may last between 2-12 weeks.


Interested in participating in taste research?

  • The Center for Health Behaviors Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, located in Roanoke, is conducting a 5-week research study in which participants will taste several flavors, drink flavored beverages, and have their blood sugar levels measured.


Participants Needed for a Research Study on Dietary Measures and Weight

Are you interested in participating in a research study that will help researchers better understand how weight can affect how researchers measure dietary intake? Participants are needed for a Virginia Tech research study in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise (IRB # 21-588). Study Title: The Impact of Weight Status on Dietary Reporting

You may qualify for this research if you are over the age of 18 years old, are not currently following a weight loss diet, have a body mass index ≥25, and have remained weight-stable for the past 2 months.

Eligible participants will:

  • Complete three phone dietary recalls over a two-week period.
  • Complete one in-person study visit in Roanoke, VA where height, weight, and energy expenditure will be measured.
  • Complete several surveys with questions about weight.
  • Schedule and complete one qualitative interview through Zoom.

Each dietary recall should take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete, the study visit should take approximately 90 minutes, and the interview will take about 60 minutes, for a total duration of approximately 4 hours for all study activities.

For more information:

Contact Erica Howes at or complete the screening survey


Sugar, the Brain, and Behavior

The Center for Health Behaviors Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, located in Roanoke, is conducting a 5-week research study to investigate how foods we eat influence our brains.


  • Ages 18-45
  • Willing to attend sessions at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke

What is involved?

  • All sessions in Roanoke
  • Participants ages 18-45
  • 5 in-person and 3 online sessions over 5 weeks (~18 hours total)
  • Drinking sweetened drinks at specified times each week
  • Measurements of energy use (metabolic rate)
  • IV blood draws
  • MRI brain scan

What you will get

  • Up to $420
  • Health information, including:
    • Hemoglobin A1C test results
    • Fasting blood sugar results
    • Metabolic rate test results
  • An MRI picture of your brain

IRB #23-297


Processed Food Study

The Center for Health Behaviors Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, located in Roanoke, is conducting a 3-9 week research study in which participants will eat various meals, and have their blood sugar and metabolic rates measured.

For this study, participants will:

  • Participate in up to 3 meal conditions for ~2 weeks each
  • Consume foods while undergoing measurements of metabolic rate and having blood drawn
  • Undergo an fMRI scan

Participants will be compensated up to $590 for participation.

IRB: #21-1052


Type 2 Diabetes Study

The Center for Health Behaviors Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC is recruiting adults with Type 2 diabetes for a 6-month remote research study. This study is to help individuals lose weight, adopt healthy lifestyle, and study the most effective motivational strategies for successful weight loss. 

Remote participation involves:

  • Dietary and lifestyle coaching
  • Behavioral Intervention and a 90-minute average weekly commitment
  • Zoom assessments of blood sugar, diet, medication use, physical activity, and decision making

You will receive:

  • Access to a weight loss treatment program
  • $215 compensation for completion of all study procedures

See if you are eligible! Screen online at:

Contact us if you have any question: Phone: (540) 525-7805 or Email:



  • Home Item
    Bickel Lab
    Bickel Lab , home

    The Bickel Lab studies dysfunctional decision-making and interventions to help people battling addiction make healthier choices.

  • Home Item
    DiFeliceantonio Lab
    DiFeliceantonio Lab , home

    Dr. DiFeliceantonio's laboratory uses multimodal imaging and metabolic measures to study how the brain integrates peripheral signals to guide food motivation, choice, and eating behavior.

  • Home Item
    Freitas-Lemos Lab
    Freitas-Lemos Lab , home

    The Freitas-Lemos Lab studies the effects of new regulations or tobacco products on disparities in tobacco use and its health impacts among different populations.

  • Home Item
    Howell Lab
    Howell Lab , home

    The Howell Lab studies ways to improve mother-infant health outcomes by exploring the factors that influence healthy infant brain and behavioral development.

  • Home Item
    Legon Lab
    Legon Lab , home

    The Legon Lab studies modulation of the human brain via focused ultrasound.

  • Home Item
    Shin Lab
    Shin Lab , home

    The Shin Lab aims to understand the role of brain circuit-specific mechanisms using translationally relevant animal models of stress-induced psychiatric diseases.

  • Home Item
    Stein Lab
    Stein Lab , home

    The Stein Lab's research interests include behavioral economics, neuroeconomics, addiction, obesity, and health behavior.




Presented by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and co-hosted by the Center for Health Behaviors Research