Blanton Tolbert named Case Comprehensive Cancer Center’s first associate director for DEI

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Blanton S. Tolbert was named the first associate director for diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, complementing his recent appointment as vice dean for diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence for the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. 

As associate director, Tolbert will focus on the following areas:  

  • With cancer center leadership, supporting research projects that address health disparities and include underserved populations and building research teams that reflect the population served by the center. 
  • With the associate director for training and education, establishing mentorship programs that ensure the diversification of the future workforce and fostering an equitable training environment. 
  • With the director and deputy directors, addressing bias and discrimination and integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into the core activities of the Cancer Center, including recruitment, research development, management, and communications. 
  • With the associate director for community, outreach, and education, working with individuals, groups, and organizations to better understand the obstacles faced by the population at large.

Tolbert, who has been faculty at Case Western Reserve since 2012 and a full professor since 2019, served as principal investigator of a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in chemistry, and was the recipient of several NIH Diversity Supplements. 

Tolbert received the Morton L. Mandel Award for Excellence in Research and Service in 2016 from the Department of Chemistry, and was a University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education Mentors Fellow in 2012. He was appointed the Rudolph and Susan Rense Professor of Chemistry in 2021. 

Tolbert is a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for RNA Science and Therapeutics. His research group aims to understand the basic mechanisms through which RNA and related retroviruses usurp cellular proteins to regulate gene expression.

Tolbert is the principal investigator on several NIH grants, including the Nuclear Gene Expression Project of the U54 Center for HIV RNA Studies. In 2021, he was appointed chairperson of the NIH Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council. 

He chaired the OARAC Strategies to Support, Retain, and Expand the Pool of Early Stage Investigators panel discussion on May 5, 2021. He is also a member of the NIH HVCD study section and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program advisory board. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews.

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