Dr. X. J. Meng, of Blacksburg, Va., has recently been appointed as a permanent member of the prestigious virology study section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In this role, Meng, a professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, will review grant proposals made to the NIH virology study section and make recommendations for funding. The NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“[M]embership on a study section represents a major commitment of professional time and energy as well as a unique opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research,” wrote Dr. Toni Scarpa, director of the NIH’s center for scientific review, in the letter announcing Meng’s appointment.

Three times a year, Meng will review and provide critiques to the proposals assigned to him, and then travel to study section meetings to confer with the other members of the panel. Among members of the panel, Meng says he estimates they will review approximately 100 proposals each cycle.

“This is an opportunity for me to not only be of service to the scientific community, but to also broaden my own views of science and biomedical research,” said Meng. “It is an honor to serve.”

According to Scarpa’s letter, members for NIH study sections are selected on the basis of their demonstrated achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements, and honors.

Nominations submitted by NIH Scientific Reviewer Administrators go through several levels of review at NIH before individuals are offered permanent memberships on a NIH study section.

“We are very proud of Dr. Meng’s appointment to this study section,” said Dr. Roger Avery, senior associate dean for research and graduate studies. “This is a wonderful testament to his expertise and accomplishments as a virologist. He will serve as a wonderful ambassador of our college and of veterinary medicine.”

Meng previously served as chair of a NIH Special Emphasis Panel IDM-B (15), permanent member of the NIH’s Drug Discovery and Mechanism of Antimicrobial Resistance Study Section, ad hoc member of the NIH Comparative Medicine Study Section, member of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Military Infectious Diseases Program panel, and Rapporteur of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research of the European Union.

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 currently being marketed worldwide by Wyeth Inc. and Fort Dodge Animal Health Inc. Meng’s group also 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.

He was 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 170 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Since joining Virginia Tech in 1999, Meng has brought in over $7.6 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. He recently received the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence, the highest research award given by the university, and was named the inaugural Fralin Life Science Institute Senior Faculty Fellow.

Meng earned an M.D. 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, 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 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).

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