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Robert Balster
Virgnia Commonwealth University











Dr. Balster received his PhD in Psychology, with an emphasis in biopsychology, from the University of Houston and then completed postdoctoral training in Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Chicago School of Medicine. He has been on the faculty at VCU since 1973, teaching and doing research in the fields of pharmacology, psychology and substance abuse. In addition to directing a university-wide Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies (, Dr. Balster is the Coordinator of the VCU site for the Humphrey Fellowship Program in Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Policy, a State Department funded, 10-month exchange program for mid-career professionals. The VCU campus now has 29 alumni from many countries through the world. In addition, Dr. Balster is Co-Director of the Virginia Youth Tobacco Project, a statewide interdisciplinary research coalition on youth tobacco use and is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the International Programme in Addiction Studies, an online graduate program hosted by VCU, King’s College London and the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Dr. Balster's selection as a Jefferson Science Fellow was featured on Virginia Commonwealth University's website. Read the article here

USAID Profile

Office of the Global Health Initiative
Bureau of Global Health

Robert Balster spent his Jefferson Science Fellowship at USAID in the Global Health Bureau Office of the Assistant Administrator (GH/AA). He primarily worked on the implementation of the President’s Global Health Initiative which calls for a greater reliance on an evidence-based approach to development that underpins business processes at all levels of USAID, from strategic planning to policy development to project design. Robert worked on the organization and implementation of Evidence Summits, using his expertise in medical research to help in the identification and utilization of scientific evidence, combined with expert advice, to inform development practice and policy for low and middle income countries.


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