X.J. Meng named inaugural Fralin Life Science Institute Senior Faculty Fellow

Dr. X.J. Meng

Dr. X.J. Meng

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 18, 2008 – Dr. X.J. Meng, of Blacksburg, Va., has been named Virginia Tech's inaugural Fralin Life Science Institute Senior Faculty Fellow.

Meng, a faculty member in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, was honored for his outstanding scholarship and his sustained leadership within the life sciences in the university.

The Fralin Life Science Senior Faculty Fellow award was created to recognize contributions of senior faculty members beyond their scientific achievements and their regular faculty appointments.

The Fralin Life Science Institute’s mission is to increase the breadth and quality of the life science research portfolio at Virginia Tech. There have been aggressive investments in both scientific infrastructure, such as proteomics facilities and imaging equipment, and in new faculty hires in an effort to achieve this goal, according to Dennis Dean, the Stroobants Professor of Biotechnology and director of the institute.

“Dr. Meng has participated in and has proven to be extremely valuable in both of these endeavors,” said Dean. “He has served as a magnet that led to hiring several outstanding new faculty members and he also provided advice necessary to acquire and implement imaging and cell sorting facilities that will be housed in the new Integrated Life Science Building.”

Although it is important to invest in junior faculty and to attract new researchers, the institute believes it is also important to recognize that it is building its programs and depends upon proven investigators already within Virginia Tech who are also good university citizens, explains Dean.

“The leadership and participation of our senior faculty is essential to our success and I am delighted that the Fralin Institute will recognize these individuals on a regular basis,” said Dean.

In recognition of his achievement, Meng, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received a plaque and $10,000 in funds to support research activities.

Meng’s research focus is on emerging and reemerging viral diseases that impact public health. He is widely considered one of the world’s leading scientists in hepatitis E virus, type 2 porcine circovirus, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. Meng recently developed a vaccine to protect against type 2 porcine circovirus infection and Post-weaning Multi-systemic Wasting Syndrome in pigs, a major threat to the global swine industry. The vaccine, Suvaxyn ® PCV2 One Dose ™, has been patented by Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. and is licensed and being marketed by Wyeth Inc and Fort Dodge Animal Health Inc.

Meng’s group also recently discovered two new viruses: swine hepatitis E virus from pigs which is closely related to the human form of hepatitis E virus and avian hepatitis E virus from chickens. These discoveries open up the possibility of new animal models to study human hepatitis E and its treatments that have never been possible before.

Meng serves on the Editorial Board of three international journals and he serves as a reviewer on 29 more. Meng has also served on several National Institutes of Health (NIH) Study Sections including the NIH’s Drug Discovery and Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Resistance (DDR) Study Section, and the NIH-NCRR Comparative Medicine Study Section. He has served as a panel member of the Viral and Rickettsial Diseases panel and as chair of the Viral Hepatitis Section (Annual Report Review) for the United State’s Department of Defense’s Military Infectious Disease Research Program. He is currently the secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture’s NC-229 Committee and he is the chair of the Hepeviridae Subcommittee of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

Meng was also recently recognized by Thomson Scientific as being ranked in the top 1 percent of highly-cited scientists in the world in the field of microbiology. He has published more than 155 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Since joining Virginia Tech in 1999, Meng has brought in over $7 million in research funding on projects where he has been the principal investigator and has also been the co-investigator or consultant on other research funding totaling over $21 million.

He has won the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence twice, one in 2001 and again in 2008, and was elected as an honorary diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Microbiology.

Meng earned an medical doctorate from Binzhou Medical College in Binzhou, Shandong, People’s Republic of China; a master of science degree in microbiology and immunology from the Virus Research Institute, Wuhan University College of Medicine, Wuhan, Hubei, People’s Republic of China; and a Ph.D. in immunobiology from the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Preventive Medicine at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ames, Iowa.

Prior to joining the veterinary college, Meng served as senior staff fellow of the Molecular Hepatitis Section of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).