Webster L. Santos, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been reappointed the Blackwood Junior Faculty Fellow of Life Sciences by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Blackwood Junior Faculty Fellowship of Life Sciences was established in 2006 with a gift from Mary and Willis Blackwood to support and advance instruction, research, and collaboration in the life sciences with a complementary focus on the development of entrepreneurial opportunities. The recipient will work with the Bringing Science to Market program, a collaborative effort between the College of Science and the Pamplin College of Business. The fellowship appointment is for three years.

Santos joined the faculty at Virginia Tech as a tenure-track assistant professor in 2006, and was promoted to associate professor with tenure earlier this year.

Santos is an expert in drug discovery and has a strong interest in drug development. His current research is focused on the development of agents with novel mode of action against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) and new drugs for fibrosis therapy that can be brought to market to benefit society. Nearly 45 percent of deaths in the United States can be attributed to disorders with significant fibrotic component, yet there are no FDA-approved drugs for its treatment. 

Santos is a co-founder of SphynKx Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that has licensed the inventions from his laboratories for further development into the clinic. His work has implications for patients with chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

He has received seven issued and pending patents with Virginia Tech Intellectual Property. He has 34 published papers in peer-reviewed journals, and five others submitted or in preparation. His laboratory is funded by RO1 research grants from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health to support his drug discovery research. He currently directs a laboratory consisting of 13 international researchers that involves undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral chemistry students.

Santos received his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. His postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University from 2002 to 2006 was funded by a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.