James Blair, associate provost for research and interdisciplinary programs at Virginia Tech, has been named interim vice provost for research. Provost Mark McNamee made the announcement Tuesday. The appointment is effective April 1, the day Leonard K. Peters, the university's vice provost for research, begins a new position as Battelle senior vice president and director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Blair came to Virginia Tech on August 1, 2001 from Oklahoma State University, where he was head of the biochemistry and molecular biology department.
"Dr. Blair has a wealth of administrative experience and a successful track record as a grant writer and researcher," says McNamee. "In the short time he has been at Virginia Tech, he has broadened the university's research direction and contributed to the depth of our perception regarding what it means to be a research university."
Blair has been responsible for program development to help faculty members fund research, collaboration resources, and the interdisciplinary research centers. He has refocused the ASPIRES program to build on university strengths and respond to national initiatives. ASPIRES is the matching fund program that provides seed funds for research and equipment in response to proposals to faculty members. Blair has served on the Battelle Technical Network, as the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Councilor, and as liaison with other universities in Virginia since joining Virginia Tech.
He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from West Virginia University (WVU) in 1966 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Virginia in 1970, where he was a National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellow. He was a National Institutes for Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin's Institute of Enzyme Research. He joined the biochemistry department faculty at WVU in 1972, became associate chairman of the department in 1983, and then department head at OSU in 1990. He has also been a visiting professor at Meharry Medical College.
While at WVU, Blair earned the NIH Research Career Development Award, the Outstanding Teacher Award, and the WVU Valuable Friend of Minority Students Award.
His research interests are hormonal regulation of mammalian carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, protein structure and function, metabolism and toxic actions of drugs and environmental contaminants, and fish models for chemical carcinogenesis and tumor promotion. He has numerous publications, has given many invited scientific presentations, has served on national research review panels, including many NIH site visits, and done peer review and consulting.
Blair received research support from the NIH for nearly 18 years. He was principal investigator of the NIH "Opportunities for Minorities in Biomedical Research at Oklahoma State University" and program director of the "Oklahoma Partners for Biological Sciences" project and the "Retention of Students in Biological Sciences at OSU" supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Program and was Biotechnology Project Leader for the NSF-supported "Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) for the State of Oklahoma.