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Ed Smith

Professor, Comparative Genomics
  • Director, VT-PREP Program
  • Director, VT-IMSD Program
Dr. Ed Smith at the Holtzman Alumni Center. Chandeliers and windows in the background.
School of Animal Sciences
2250 Litton-Reaves Hall
175 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

The rationale for comparative genomics, thus that of my laboratory, is that all organisms have a common ancestor and therefore share many components of their genomes. Using this rational, therefore, you can obtain a lot of genomic information by just looking at or studying information-rich species such as Homo sapiens, Mus musculus, and Rattus norvegicus. Further, you can use information from model organisms to understand the biological basis of some important biomedical conditions and phenomena in humans.

Our activities involve both aspects of comparative genomics:  building genomic information on little-understood avian species using information from more widely studied organisms, and using information on model species to understand a biological phenomenon in humans.

Research training grants

I pioneered research training grants from the NIH at Virginia Tech. Through my efforts, VT is currently one of the leading land-grant institutions to receive NIH funding for training graduate students. These programs have brought to VT almost 70 students who have participated in major research activities and published and presented outstanding work they participated in or led. On average, the training grants currently bring in $800,000 annually, among the highest of any faculty in any of the three missions of the university.

Our outreach efforts at VT over the last 10 years have been both novel and “extremely” productive. Building on the USD-funded biotechnology experiential learning program for VA K-12 teachers, we brought to VT 7th-8thgrade Harris-Foundation/Exxon-Mobil-funded science camp program.

  • ALS 3104: Animal Breeding and Genetics: 25%, Genomics Section
  • ALS 5094: Effective Grant Writing for Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences
  • APSC/BCHM 5054G and 4054: Genomics: 50%
  • GBCB 5004: Seminar
  • 2014 – Senior Faculty Fellow, West AJ Residential Program,
  • 2012 – Co-Program Director, Post-baccalaureate Research and Education Program (VT-PREP)    
  • 2011-2012 – Senior Fellow, NIH Genome Institute, National Research Service Sabbatical
  • Member, 2013-14 Cohort, Virginia Tech’s Executive Development Institute (next generation of university leaders)


National Research Service Award, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH, Bethesda.



Faculty Host, Fulbright Visiting Professor, Dr. Isaac Adeyinka, Professor and Head, Data Processing Unit, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria.




  • June: Member, NIH BD2K (President’s Initiative on Big Data) Review: Education Resources and Career Development (Bethesda, Maryland)
  • July: co-Chair, NIH Study Section, National Research Mentoring Network U54 program: ZRG1 BBBP-J. Reston, Virginia
  • August: Referee (by invitation from Chair), Tenure Application, Dr. Emmitt Jolly, Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Sabbatical, F33, National research Service Award, The National Institutes of Health/NHGRI 2011
  • Sabbatical, NIH-NHGRI funded at the University of Washington 1997
  • Postdoc, Iowa State University 1991-92
  • Ph.D., Oregon State University (Genetics; Minors: Biochemistry & Statistics) 1991
  • M.S., Oregon State University (Genetics, Integrated minors: Biochemistry & Statistics) 1989
  • B.S., University of Sierra Leone (Agriculture, Division I: Magna Cum Laude equivalence)


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