Blanton Tolbert appointed first Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Blanton S. Tolbert

The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center is pleased to announce the appointment of Blanton S. Tolbert, PhD as the first Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC). This role will complement his recent appointment as Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence for the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. 

The newly created Associate Director role will coordinate and facilitate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Associate Director will focus on continuing to create and sustain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment that will support our Cancer Center community in the fight against cancer and quest for health equity. 

“As a basic scientist, I am acutely aware of the important contributions that diverse perspectives bring to scientific discovery," said Tolbert. "And as a group leader, I believe it is my responsibility to meet trainees where they are and to help them achieve their personal best.”

As Associate Director. Tolbert will focus on the following areas:  

  • Research: With Cancer Center leadership, ensure diversity, equity and inclusion is central to all aspects of research. This includes dedicated resources to fund research focused on breaking down barriers to health disparities, developing research projects with an underserved population in mind from initial stages through completion, and active building of research teams that include representation that reflects the population we serve. 
  • Mentoring, training and education: With the Associate Director for Training and Education, establish mentoring programs to ensure diversification of the future workforce and a develop a training environment amicable to the advancement of all future scientists and doctors.  
  • Workplace culture and environment: With the Director and Deputy Directors, create positive change to address bias and discrimination and integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into the core activities of the cancer center, including recruitment, research development, management and communications. 
  • Community outreach: With the Associate Director for Community, Outreach and Education, collaborate with our community - individuals, groups and organizations - to appreciate their perspectives, better understand the unique obstacles faced by the population at large, and collaboratively develop a roadmap for change.  

Tolbert, who has been faculty at Case Western Reserve since 2012 and a full Professor since 2019, is recognized for his academic leadership, passion for research excellence and dedication to mentoring diverse trainees. He has a proven track record of mentoring scientists at all levels and providing trainees an environment that prepares them for their future career ambitions. He has served as principal investigator of a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in Chemistry, and was the recipient of several National Institutes of Health (NIH) Diversity Supplements. He received the Morton L. Mandel Award for Excellence in Research and Service in 2016 from the Department of Chemistry, and was a UCITE (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. He leads a diverse research group that aims to understand the basic mechanisms by RNA and related retroviruses usurp cellular proteins to regulate gene expression. His group leverages their understanding of the basic molecular biology of these viruses to identify novel targets for therapeutic intervention. 

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 (OARAC). He chaired the OARAC Strategies to Support, Retain, and Expand the Pool of Early Stage Investigators panel discussion on May 5, 2021. Tolbert is also a member of the NIH HVCD study section and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program (PDEP) Advisory Board. He is on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews.

Please join us in congratulating Blanton Tolbert on his new role!