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Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors

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About the Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors

The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors 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 Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the office of the Virginia Tech Vice President of Health Sciences and Technology, and the CTRHB, we will fund at least three health behaviors-related P/F studies up to $20,000/year.

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 CTRHB.  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 CTRHB include:

1. Neurobiology of decision making – Examples include: neural and behavioral manipulations and bases of metabolic disease (obesity, prediabetes, and diabetes), eating and physical activity behaviors, addiction, and medical compliance.

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.   Funding will only be awarded to applications that are collaborations between Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic, and priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate a high likelihood of future NIH funding.  Investigators will be expected to follow their projects up with an NIH grant submission in order to be eligible for additional future funding through this program.

Eligible investigators include:

  • New investigators without current or past NIH 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; 
  • Post-doctoral fellows with a co-investigator who is senior faculty mentor who has a strong record of NIH 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 February 3, 2020.
  • Please also provide an NIH biographical sketch for PI(s) with the letter of intent by February 3, 2020.
  • Invitations for complete proposals will be made no later than February 17, 2020.
  • Final applications will be due April 17, 2020, and should be a maximum of six-pages using the NIH R21 format.
  • Awardees will be notified of funding no later than May 15, 2020.
  • The funding period will be July 1, 2020 – June 15, 2021, 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 submitted below or emailed to

Investigators are encouraged to contact Dr. Warren Bickel (; 540-526-2088), Dr. Matthew Hulver (; 540-231-7354), or Dr. Francis Farrell (; 540-224-4710) to determine their eligibility and the appropriateness of their 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.

Pre-Diabetes Research Study

The purpose of this 6-month weight loss research program is to examine different versions of a behavioral intervention of weight control, diabetes prevention, and decision making in adults with prediabetes. Compensation up to $150.

Participation involves:

  • Strategies to decrease your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Methods to help you develop lifelong eating and activity habits
  • Meal and physical activity planning with a trained interventionist
  • Use of an evidence-based program shown to help participants lose about 20 lbs





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