Robert L. Balster, Ph.D.
Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia, United States
Dr. Balster is the only NIDA grantee to have mentored two INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellows: Dr. Anton Bespalov of Russia in 1994–1995 and Dr. Silvia Cruz of Mexico in 1996–1997. Both young scientists are among the most talented researchers to have earned the INVEST award, and Dr. Balster’s mentoring contributed to their development as independent researchers who have contributed to our understanding of drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Balster has extended his relationship with the former INVEST Fellows by continuing their joint research interests: he has coauthored three scientific articles with Dr. Cruz and seven with Dr. Bespalov since the conclusion of their INVEST Fellowships. Dr. Balster’s work to train young researchers is not limited to the NIDA International Program’s INVEST Fellowship. He has been advisor to more than 30 doctoral students and postdoctoral trainees, and has directed the graduate training program for pharmacology and toxicology at the Medical College of Virginia. Throughout his career, Dr. Balster has worked to create opportunities for young researchers and has served as a model for other senior scientists interested in training the next generation of investigators.