Institutes and centers
Application for University-Level Research Institute or Center
Research-related Institutes and Centers (RICs) are an important part of VCU’s overall research mission. Before applying for creation or renewal of a RIC, please read the policy governing RICs. The critical components include:
- RICs can be either unit-level or university-level. Unit-level RICs report to the chief administrator of the unit, typically a dean. University-level RICs report to the VPRI and are supported in part by OVPRI staff and funding. This application is only for university-level RICs.
- University-level RICs must:
- Have a mission that aligns with university priorities and strategic plans (VCU strategic plan - Quest 2025; One VCU Research Strategic Priorities Plan) AND be multidisciplinary, across multiple units, and beyond the scope of what can be accomplished by an individual department, school, or college.
- Have a plan for financial stability and external funding.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s institutes and centers work across disciplines and research to create new knowledge. Representing some of the most cutting-edge investigations taking place in the world today, the VCU’s ICs conduct unique investigative collaborations to add value to the university in terms of intellectual power, resources and collaborative potential, extramural funding and resource development.
Click on the headings below to read more detailed information on each center or institute.
University-wide research-related institutes and centers
The VCU Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering (VCU-CERSE) brings together researchers, clinicians, rehabilitation specialists, and academicians from the VCU Schools of Medicine, Allied Health, Education and Engineering, as well as the Hunter Holmes Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services to promote research, education, physical medicine and rehabilitation services, and clinical care for America's veterans, children and adults with disabilities. This site offers resources and initiatives aimed at improving the health, functional ability and quality of life of persons who experience a disability.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Health Disparities (VCU CoHD) was established in 2005 by the VCU Board of Visitors in response to emerging evidence of barriers to equitable health care at the local, state and national levels. The VCU CoHD supports multi-disciplinary, multi-level, integrated research projects to advance the understanding of the development and progression of diseases and disabilities that contribute to health disparities in racial and ethnic minority populations and other health disparity populations, including the medically underserved, by increasing and diversifying biomedical, behavioral, social science, and health services research, as well as cultural, linguistic and social epidemiology research conducted and supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The VCU Center on Society and Health is an academic research center that studies the health implications of social factors—such as education, income, neighborhood and community environmental conditions, and public policies. Its mission is to answer relevant questions that can “move the needle” to improve the health of Americans and present its work in formats and venues that are useful to decision-makers and change agents. It pursues these goals through collaboration with scholars in different disciplines at VCU and other institutions, and by nurturing partnerships with community, government, and private-sector stakeholders.
The mission of the Clark Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development is to empower youth, schools, families and other stakeholders to promote the healthy, safe and otherwise positive development of youth in the defined community from early adolescence through emerging adulthood. This is pursued through the activities of the institute’s Research, Outreach and Education cores. The Research core is focused on developing and evaluating effective violence prevention strategies. The Outreach and Education cores support the Research core and respond more broadly to community requests for information, support, technical assistance and assistance with bringing together stakeholders in a participatory research program. The institute is one of ten National Academic Centers of Excellence for Youth Violence Prevention funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Approved in 2015, the Institute for Research on Behavioral and Emotional Health is an interdisciplinary institute with the goal of promoting behavioral and emotional health in our college community through the integration of research with coursework, programming, policy and practice. COBE brings together diverse constituencies across the university (researchers, administrators, practitioners, etc.) to address behavioral and emotional health as a foundation for student success.
The VCU Institute for Women's Health is one of 20 National Centers of Excellence in Women's Health designated by the Office of Women's Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Institute for Women’s Health seeks to improve the health of women through research, clinical care, education, community outreach and leadership development. The institute was created to bring together these diverse activities, generate synergy within VCU and foster coordinated alliances with the greater community.
The VCU Massey Cancer Center's mission is to serve Virginia and the nation as a comprehensive center of excellence in cancer research, prevention and control, patient care, and education. Its guiding principles are to make important discoveries about cancer, and to translate these discoveries rapidly into better prevention, detection, treatment, and control of cancer to enhance the quality of life of all individuals affected by cancer. Researchers and physician-scientists conduct lab and clinical research in five core areas: Cancer Cell Signaling, Cancer Molecular Genetics, Cancer Prevention and Control, Developmental Therapeutics, and Radiation Biology and Oncology. Research members are faculty affiliated with 22 academic departments, five schools and one college at Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU Massey Cancer Center has been designated by the National Cancer Institute since 1974.
The Partnership for People with Disabilities is recognized as Virginia's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The center engages in interdisciplinary training, technical assistance, research and evaluation, policy, and dissemination efforts that result in communities where all people live, work and recreate together. The partnership relies on partners that include numerous disability service providers, K-12 schools and school divisions, universities and colleges, professional organizations, and state and local agencies. The partnership maintains an interdisciplinary approach to all of its activities which are conducted in three program areas: health, early intervention and education, and family and individual involvement and support. The partnerships with people from a broad range of disciplines allow for the exploration of a wide spectrum of professional services and community interests as the partnership seeks to expand opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
Established in 1996, The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics is established to facilitate the development of a multidisciplinary, integrated research program in the Genetic Epidemiology of Psychiatric Illness and Human Behavior and Development in the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Genetics.
The Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) provides the necessary infrastructure and resources for interdisciplinary human health research. Through its cores, the CCTR encourages, engages and supports collaborative participation of investigators and students throughout the university, community partners, and government organizations to work together on innovative research that transforms the scientific study of human health. Researchers from across the university, including the life, physical, computer and social sciences, as well as engineering and economics, are supported by the CCTR.
Other research related centers and institutes
The Center for Biobehavioral Clinical Research, presently funded as a P30 Center of Excellence for Biobehavioral Approaches to Symptom Management, builds on the successful P20 Exploratory Center for Biobehavioral Clinical Research to advanced application of biobehavioral models, methods and analyses aimed at understanding biobehavioral mechanisms, interventions and outcomes. The center consists of the Administrative Core, Biobehavioral Science Core (affiliated with Biobehavioral Laboratory Services) and Data Services and Analysis Core, a subset of biostatistics and data services. Investigators have collectively, and individually, advanced biobehavioral science and/or symptom management significantly in a variety of patient populations, including patients with cancer and in the critically ill.
The mission of the Center for the Biological Data Science is to build an academic community centered on quantitative and computational discovery science and to promote collaborative and reproducible research and education in basic and applied life sciences across Virginia Commonwealth University. The center develops and supports critical infrastructure and core capabilities at VCU in bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics, and computational systems biology. Center faculty apply data science and informatics principles to research, instructional and other scholarly activities in the life sciences.
The Center for Biomarker Research and Precision Medicine aims to alleviate the tremendous personal, familial and societal burden of mental illness by using state-of-the-art genomic technologies to identify molecular markers that can be used to develop new medications and tailor treatment to individual patients.
The Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention within the Department of Psychology at VCU was founded in 2000 to provide a place, forum and means to promote and conduct culturally congruent and community relevant prevention and intervention work primarily with African Americans and other culturally different groups. Since its inception, over 30 graduate students and hundreds of undergraduate students have contributed to programs and research at the center and engaged in activities with numerous community partners and other agencies.
The Center for Environmental Studies is a focal point for environment research and instruction at VCU. The center provides more than 30 distinguished faculty, expansive offering of environmental training and a geographical information systems laboratory. Faculty, staff, and graduate students in the Center conduct nationally and internationally recognized research in environmental science, policy, health, and technology. The undergraduate and graduate programs in environmental studies are interdisciplinary in nature, exposing students to the critical links between the areas of environmental life sciences, technology and policy.
The mission of the VCU Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care is to improve health through collaboration by:
- Implementing interprofessional models of care that advance patient and population health
- Promoting research-driven innovations in interprofessional education and practice
- Educating students and practitioners to lead in an evolving interprofessional health care environment
The VCU Center for Public Policy is a multidisciplinary policy studies organization, serving Virginia Commonwealth University and its surrounding communities. Its divisions provide a wide variety of services, including professional and leadership training, public policy outreach, survey design and implementation, economic research, and education policy analysis.
Approved in 2013, the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products brings together a multidisciplinary group of faculty to focus on a new issue of immediate concern to public health: the regulation of tobacco products. CSTP employs an integrated, iterative model of modified risk tobacco product evaluation that uses analytic lab, human lab, randomized controlled trial, and quantitative and qualitative methods to inform tobacco product regulation. In addition, by providing core support services, opportunities for faculty development, training of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, and a small grants program, the center helps to attract and retain faculty in this rapidly expanding field of research and facilitates additional multidisciplinary research awards. CSTP is administered within the Department of Psychology with linkages to the Massey Cancer Center.
The Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family Studies enhances the mental health of children and families through scientific research and the dissemination of empirical evidence. The institute also provides evidence-based clinical and prevention training, offers technical assistance and consultation services and disseminates research findings. The institute is staffed by professionals from disciplines that include psychology, psychiatry, pediatrics, mental health counseling, public health and business.
The VCU Cybersecurity Center (CSeC) CSeC promotes research and education in a broad area of cybersecurity including focus areas of cyber security and resilience, malware and digital forensics, wireless networking and mobile computing, and blockchain and bitcoin. The CSeC hosts NSA/DHS designations of Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research (CAE-R) and Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). These designations are managed by NSA's National Cryptologic School along with several federal agencies including DHS CISA, FBI, NIST, NSF, DoD-CIO, and USCYBERCOM. The CSeC consists of three schools (College of Engineering, School of Business, and L.Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs) and four departments (Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Information Systems, and Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness). It has a strong interdisciplinary focus on cyber manufacturing, medical devices, electric vehicles and charging stations, cybersecurity policy and compliance of cyber-physical systems and critical infrastructures, etc.
A collaboration of VCU’s Schools of the Arts, Business, Engineering and College of Humanities and Sciences, the VCU da Vinci Center is a unique collegiate model that advances innovation and entrepreneurship through cross-disciplinary collaboration. The academic and other program offerings of the da Vinci Center aim to create T-shaped individuals: individuals who are anchored in a discipline and have the capacity and openness to span across disciplines. Students participating in the da Vinci Center are thus prepared for the 21st Century workforce as they more robustly approach the innovation/entrepreneurship endeavor through multiple disciplinary perspectives.
The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute at VCU promotes the development of current and emerging leaders in academic institutions; public, private and nonprofit organizations; and in the community. Leadership programs are based on the principles of collaboration and partnerships, with a strong commitment to long-term relationships between clients and participants. Additionally, the institute researches and disseminates knowledge on the best practices in leadership. Through its training and public policy research, the institute is committed to identifying and nurturing the next generation of leaders.
The Harold F. Young Neurosurgical Center is committed to providing exceptional and compassionate patient care. Within the VCU Health System, the neurosurgical center will be a recognized provider of comprehensive services whose mission is to integrate clinical research with patient services while training future clinicians and scientists.
Approved in 2013, the Humanities Research Center provides a forum for enhancing excellence in the humanities through intellectual exchange across conventional disciplinary boundaries, raising the visibility of scholarly work in the humanities and securing external support for research in the humanities at VCU. This center is housed within the College of Humanities and Sciences, and its work has four defining characteristics:
- interdisciplinary and inclusive, bringing together multiple disciplines and departments
- collaborative, fostering activities among faculty (interdepartmental and interschool), students, the community and our international partners
- global in its engagement of research areas and in its focused activity with our global partners
- public in the dissemination of research through talks, colloquia and strategic outreach activities
The Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies (IDAS) was established at VCU in 1993 to promote excellence in research and education on substance abuse. The Institute’s research and training agenda spans the continuum from basic, laboratory research to community-based treatment effectiveness studies and policy analyses., Over 50 faculty members from 11 different departments within the university comprise the Institute, enabling a multidisciplinary approach to addressing the complex problems associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
The Institute for Engineering and Medicine, constructed in 2009 as an addition to West Hall, houses labs that foster collaborative programs between the VCU College of Engineering, VCU Life Sciences and the VCU School of Medicine. The state-of-the-art collaborative research environment is one of the largest configurable research spaces in the U.S.
The mission of the Institute for Structural Biology, Drug Discovery and Development is to invent, design, discover, develop, and deliver knowledge, technology, and therapeutic agents capable of preventing, resolving, and curing disorders and disease conditions relevant to human beings. The core of the Institute’s focus is on the interface of chemistry and biology with emphasis on structural biology, medicinal chemistry, molecular medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology, metabolism, metabolomics, drug development, drug delivery and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The mission of the VCU Institute for Molecular Medicine is to create the next generation of effective preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for cancer, neurodegeneration and infectious diseases. Among the goals of VIMM are to leverage current knowledge of cancer, neurodegeneration and infectious diseases to better understand genes that play a critical role in pathogenesis, to identify molecular targets for developing strategies to diagnose and treat these three disease states, and to transfer discoveries into the arena of clinical research and ultimately into practical benefit to society.
The Kornblau Institute focuses on research broadly related to commercial and residential real estate. These issues often benefit from an interdisciplinary approach and include such concerns as land use, housing and commercial development - the social, cultural and economic sides of the real estate business. Collaborative research seeks to engage other programs and schools such as nursing, social work and government and public affairs, working with various departments in the School of Business. This collaborative approach seeks to elevate the national and international profile of the Real Estate Program at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium is a long-standing partnership between the VCU School of Education and seven Richmond-area school divisions that plans, conducts and disseminates community-engaged action and applied research. The empirical investigations, reviews of literature and other products focus on contemporary educational issues and problems. Findings, in the form of reports, presentations and seminars, improve school administration, teaching, and student learning and motivation, and contribute to professional knowledge. MERC also conducts a wide range of program and project evaluations for schools, agencies and institutions of higher education.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center strives to slow and ideally stop the progression of age-related, adult neurodegenerative diseases with focused “bench to bedside” translational research, to seek community input for our research projects, and to communicate our findings widely to interested professionals and members of the public. In doing so, we hope to become a premier model for improving the lives of individuals with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders, their families and the community by our commitment to excellence in translational research, comprehensive interdisciplinary clinical evaluation, and education and outreach.
VCU Health Pauley Heart Center’s mission is to improve cardiovascular care for all. We do this by building on our history of innovation in patient care, scientific discovery, diversity and collaboration, all the while continuously training the next generation of healthcare providers. Our nationally ranked cardiology and cardiac surgery care flagship location is inside VCU Medical Center in downtown Richmond with in-patient and out-patient satellite locations across the Commonwealth. Researchers and physician-scientists conduct lab and clinical research in ten core areas Advanced Heart Failure, Electrophysiology, Cardiac and Vascular Diagnostic Imaging, Cardio-Oncology, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Congenital Heart Disease, Heart Transplant, Interventional Cardiology, Preventive Cardiology and Structural Heart.
Pauley offers six training programs including General Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology, Electrophysiology, Heart Failure and Transplant, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery including NIHT32 in Translational Cardiovascular Science.
The VCU Philips Institute for Oral Health Research carries out multi-disciplinary research focused on infection, cancer and bioengineering of the oral cavity and is supported be several million dollars of annual NIH funding. The goal is to enhance our understanding of oral diseases and develop novel therapeutics and approaches for the treatment of these diseases therefore serving members of the Commonwealth.
Established in 1983, the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center serves as a center of national excellence, providing resources for professionals, individuals with disabilities, and their representatives. Its team of nationally and internationally renowned researchers is committed to developing and advancing evidence-based practices to increase the hiring and retention for individuals with disabilities. Current research activities include workplace supports, employee retention, business mentoring, and work incentive planning and assistance.
The Rice Rivers Center is VCU’s field campus for research, instruction and training in the ecological and environmental sciences. The center comprises 500 acres of riparian, wetland and upland habitats on the tidal James River and provides access to the riverine, estuarine and coastal landscapes of the lower Chesapeake Bay region. Our faculty, staff and students conduct important translational research that makes good science available to policymakers. On-site facilities include wetlabs, residential lodge, and conference center, as well as a 13,000-square-foot research complex. Although RRC's focus is large river ecology and management, the center works across a wide range of important disciplines that include carbon biogeochemistry, ecosystem restoration, invasive species ecology, climate change, fishery and avian conservation, emerging environmental technologies, and water resources.
The Weil Institute of Emergency & Critical Care Research at VCU is currently the only center in the country capable of performing large animal, small animal, and cellular basic science research studies in cardiopulmonary/cerebral resuscitation and circulatory shock with a stable clinical platform for rapid translation. The Institute's mission is to discover and develop concepts and methods for more beneficial lifesaving medical management of emergency illness and injuries, particularly those requiring resuscitation, by fostering collaborative bidirectional translational research; to provide advanced training for physicians, scientists, and engineers in support of clinical care, research, and medical education; and to sponsor educational programs in support of these goals, including professional and community-based conferences to create consensus regarding vital medical, ethical, humanistic, and technical issues relating to life support.
The Virginia Center on Aging is a statewide agency created by the Virginia General Assembly. Its mission is to define and protect the quality of life for older Virginians so that they may remain autonomous, contribute to their communities and have access to resources for continued learning and personal growth. In addition, the Virginia Center on Aging provides data, resources and insightful recommendations to decision makers (legislators, practitioners, service providers and caregivers) to enable them to make informed decisions about our elderly.