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Center for Health Behaviors Research

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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?

Are you between the ages of 18-45?

Is English your primary language?

No known history of diabetes or thyroid problems?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may be eligible for a research study!

The Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors 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?

  • Are you between the ages of 18-45?
  • Is English your primary language?
  • Do you have access to the internet on a computer, phone, or tablet?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be eligible for a research study!

The Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors 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.


Help us learn about continuous blood glucose monitoring!

Are you interested in an entirely remote 5-week research study to help learn about continuous blood glucose monitoring? Would you like to receive compensation up to $500 for completion? If yes, please complete the screen online at to learn if you are eligible!

Please note that participation includes:

  • Wearing a continuous blood glucose monitor
  • Wearing a physical activity monitor
  • Computer assessments and brief dietary recalls over Zoom

Eligibility criteria include:

  • Adults with prediabetes or at risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Having a body mass index of 25 or greater

For more information, please call (540) 739-5101 or contact the research team at



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    Bickel Lab
    Bickel Lab , home

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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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