Kimberly Horn, research dean and professor from the George Washington University (GW) and an authority in public health research, has been named associate vice president for clinical research collaboratives in the Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology at Virginia Tech.

“Dr. Horn is a forward-looking senior academic development executive who will help us drive growth of the university’s health sciences and technology vision,” said Michael J. Friedlander, vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech. “Clinical research is one major component of our efforts to address the urgent health matters of our community and state, and to more rapidly achieve better prevention and treatment options.

“Dr. Horn has facilitated productive public-private partnerships to advance these efforts — her expertise will be important for the initiatives in the office of health sciences and technology,” said Friedlander, who is also the executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

Horn joined the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW in June 2012 as the school’s first associate dean of research.

An expert in tobacco cessation and prevention research, Horn was the founding director of the Washington, D.C., Metro Tobacco Research and Instruction Consortium, a public-private partnership of tobacco control experts from the Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute, Georgetown University, and the Milken School of Public Health at GW, where Horn was most recently a professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health.

Before that, she was the associate director of population health research and the founding program leader of the translational tobacco reduction research program at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University.

Building on her experiences in academic health systems in her new role, Horn will grow existing collaborative research programs
and develop new ones between Virginia Tech and its primary clinical partner, Carilion Clinic, in partnership with other universities, health systems, federal agencies, private foundations, and appropriate industry partners.

Horn said that these collaborations must occur in step with the communities they serve.

“I spent my career trying to solve complex health problems and make people’s lives better and healthier,” Horn said. “I love this work. Part of my passion is to bring systems, communities and people with different ideas, strategies, and perspectives together. Clinical research partnerships will help us tackle some of our biggest health problems more quickly.”

For example, clinical research could uncover faster ways to treat the opioid crisis, prevent obesity, or help people stop smoking.

These health challenges are already a major focus of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, where multiple NIH-funded research programs are carried out by leading scientists, such as Warren Bickel, Pearl Chiu, Brooks King-Casas, Stephen LaConte, and Read Montague.

One initial focus of Horn’s new role is to build on the foundation that has been developed over the last year between Virginia Tech Carilion leadership and its partners from the University of Virginia and Inova Health System toward building a statewide, integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia network. The partner institutions have developed and applied for an NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award, which, if awarded, would provide tools and information to help physicians and scientists conduct translational and clinical research with the goal of providing patients with effective new treatments.

At Virginia Tech, Horn is a professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and an affiliated faculty member of the VTCRI in the translational biology, medicine, and health graduate program. In both departments, she will train and mentor graduate students.

Horn will maintain an active tobacco and substance abuse research program. She has served as a principal investigator on multiple funded research projects, including those from the NIH and national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much of Horn’s work has been used to improve health policy and practice in local communities and nationally. For example, she played an important role in creating an internationally recognized program of research in teen smoking cessation.

With a home base in Roanoke, Horn says she is where she belongs right now.

“Before I was in D.C., I was at West Virginia University for 16 years, working to address the health problems of people in Appalachia,” Horn said. “Because the opportunities at VTC align perfectly with my career path, now, I am really back home, back in the mountains. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to travel full circle. I was born in the hospital that is now Carilion Clinic. I went to William Byrd High School in Vinton — so, I’m truly a native.  This area has been good to me and I want to pay forward all that I’ve gained — it’s where I want to be.”

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