Dr. X.J. Meng of Blacksburg, a professor of molecular virology in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, recently received the university's 2008 Alumni Award for Research Excellence — the highest research award given at the university.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Research Excellence is presented annually to as many as two Virginia Tech faculty members who have made outstanding contributions in the area of research. Alumni, students, faculty, and staff may nominate candidates for the award. Each recipient is awarded a $2,000 cash prize.

“Dr. Meng’s research accomplishments are extraordinary,” said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college. “The important work he is doing in virology has world-wide implications. We are very proud to have him in our college and university.”

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. He is a permanent member of the National Institutes of Health’s Drug Discovery and Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Resistance Study Section, and has also served on other National Institutes of Health Study Sections including 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 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, 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 a medical doctorate from Binzhou Medical College in Binzhou, Shandong, People’s Republic of China; a master of science in microbiology and immunology from the Virus Research Institute, Wuhan University College of Medicine, Wuhan, Hubei, Peoples 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 college in 1999, 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).

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