Robert Balster, Ph.D., is the Luther A. Butler Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology. His 40 years on faculty have yielded a remarkable list of accomplishments that includes continuous funding from the NIH since 1976. He has applied his scientific knowledge to drug abuse policy as a former chair of the FDA Drug Abuse Advisory Committee and as a former member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence. Here on campus, he became the founding director of VCU’s Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies with the mission of assembling a multi-disciplinary effort that would attract faculty from throughout the university. By 2013, the Institute had attracted 48 faculty representing 13 departments in five schools. In FY2012, they were the recipients of 93 grants and contracts totaling $21.3 million.

He has advised 13 doctoral students and 15 postdoctoral trainees. In 2000, this dedication was recognized when he was named the first recipient of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence’s Mentorship Award and, six years later, with the NIDA International Program’s Excellence in Mentorship Award.

The Presidential Medallion is a high honor bestowed by Virginia Commonwealth University and is awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions by a member of the university community. The award recognizes extraordinary achievement in the world of learning and dedication to Virginia Commonwealth University as evidenced by a series of outstanding contributions to several areas of university life.