Sally C. Morton, dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Science, has been appointed interim director of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute (FLSI) at Virginia Tech. Morton will continue to serve as dean of the College of Science along with her interim leadership of the institute, which will begin on August 1.

Morton will succeed Dennis Dean, University Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and founding director of the new Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech, who has decided 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. “I’d like to thank Dennis for his outstanding leadership and service to the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, and for helping to advance a preeminent life sciences research enterprise at Virginia Tech.”

Dean has served as director of new Fralin Life Sciences Institute since in inception in April when the university combined it with the former Biocomplexity Institute to form the new entity that enhances Virginia Tech’s investment in and impact of life sciences research. “I have enjoyed the various leadership opportunities I have been afforded over the years, but as I approach the end of my career, I look forward to spending more time on research,” said Dean.

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 academe, 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, and in 2017 received the Janet L. Norwood Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Statistical Sciences.

Virginia Tech has initiated a national search for the next director of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute at Virginia Tech. As details of the search process are released, they will be announced through Virginia Tech News.

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