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NIH leader to head research and graduate education efforts at WVU Health Sciences

Headshot of WVU admistrator Ming Lei. He is pictured inside wearing a gray coat over a white dress shirt with a multi colored tie. He has short black hair and glasses.

Ming Lei will assume the role of senior associate vice president for Research and Graduate Education, West Virginia University Health Sciences, effective Aug. 1. He replaces the retiring Laura Gibson. (WVU Photo/Davidson Chan)

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A seasoned scientist with years of experience overseeing federal programs that support research capacity building at academic and research institutions has been named senior associate vice president for Research and Graduate Education, West Virginia University Health Sciences.

Ming Lei, who has served as director of the Division for Research Capacity at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences since 2008, will assume his new role beginning Aug. 1. Lei was tapped after a national search to replace the retiring Laura Gibson, whose leadership contributed to the University’s designation as an R1 — the highest level of research activity — institution.

In addition, Lei will serve as vice dean of research for the WVU School of Medicine and professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology.

“I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to growing the research and graduate programs, two areas that I am passionate about and have worked in for the last 20-plus years and at a wonderful American institution that I have grown to admire in recent years,” Lei said.

Lei will oversee the research activity and graduate education experience at Health Sciences.

Chancellor and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh said attracting a leader of the stature and talent of Lei is a gift to the University and the state. 

“With the partnership of the National Institute for General Medical Sciences and the IDeA award program, we have been able to impact the health of our state and train a cadre of outstanding investigators in biomedical research,” Marsh said. “Dr. Lei’s recruitment furthers our capability and capacity to truly meet our land-grant mission of improving the lives of all West Virginians by sharing discoveries that can benefit human health and longevity.”

At NIGMS, Lei directed programs that supported more than 10,000 investigators and students with a budget of $510 million in 2022. He also helped shepherd institute-wide efforts and programs to increase diversity of the biomedical research workforce. 

Lei earned his doctoral degree from Cornell University and taught genetics and microbiology.

He said joining WVU was an easy choice from his previous experiences with the community.

“I have had the privilege of working with the inspirational academic and administrative leaders and the super talented students, staff and faculty, including many world-class investigators, of WVU,” Lei said. “They also happen to be the nicest people who dedicate their service to the community doing the right things for the right reasons and in the right ways. I am blessed that they have given me the opportunity to join them.”

Students pursuing graduate education at one of the five WVU health schools — Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health — are provided a unique opportunity for a robust interprofessional education as a result of the schools’ location on one Health Sciences campus, the largest concentration of health care, research and health professions resources in West Virginia.

Both graduate and undergraduate students are key members of laboratory teams and have the opportunity to collaborate with, and learn from, established scientists.

“It’s a great feeling to know the leadership of research and graduate education at Health Sciences is transitioning to someone as wonderfully talented as Dr. Lei,” Gibson said. “We are so fortunate that he will bring his diverse experience in nurturing research and developing innovative training programs and his commitment to making a real difference to WVU.”

Lei said, “Thanks to the visionary leadership of Chancellor Clay Marsh, Dr. Laura Gibson, my extraordinary predecessor, and many others on their team, WVU Health Sciences is currently the envy of similar health research and education organizations across the nation. With a solid foundation and unprecedented growth momentum of education, research and clinical programs, there is no better place or time for me to roll up my sleeves and work.”



WVU Research Communications

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