The Philips Institute for Oral and Craniofacial Molecular Biology was started in 1999 under the directorship of now VCU vice president for research Frank Macrina, Ph.D. Original philanthropic gifts of $5 million helped launch the institute; the capstone gift of $1.25 million was made by John F. Philips, D.D.S., a 1969 alumnus, honoring the memory of his father who died of throat cancer.

While the Institute continued under an interim director following the departure of Macrina in 2004, dean, David C. Sarrett, D.D.S., M.S., who was appointed in 2011, made it a priority to appoint a full-time director and reinvigorate the Philips Institute. This resulted in the recruitment of Iain M. Morgan, Ph.D. from the Medical Research Council – University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research as director in March 2013. Since Morgan’s arrival there has been new faculty recruitment, investment in equipment and infrastructure, and a re-focusing and re-launch of the institute in October 2014 as the VCU Philips Institute for Oral Health Research.  

Our principal investigator numbers have doubled and our NIH income quadrupled from 2013 through 2016 and the institute is now set on course for a bright future tackling diseases of the oral cavity and head and neck.