Cheavar Blair, PhD, completed his doctorate at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 2015. During his graduate training, he was impressed by UK’s supportive environment and attentive faculty – qualities that enticed him to return when a faculty position recently became available.


Dr. Blair was recruited back to UK through the Dynamic Appointments in the Research Title Series (DARTS) program, an initiative from the ODEI. The innovative four-year program provides support, structured mentoring, grant writing assistance, and professional development to enhance competitiveness for a tenuretrack faculty position. Because the DARTS program position is in the research title series, Dr. Blair will be able to devote nearly all of his time to research.

To Dr. Blair, the opportunity was too great to pass up. He is now an assistant professor in the UK College of Medicine Department of Physiology, the same supportive environment he enjoyed as a graduate student.

“As a young faculty member, it’s essential to have mentors and individuals who are fully invested in your success,” Dr. Blair said. “To be a part of the department where the faculty have prioritized my scientific and professional development as an independent investigator means a lot.”

Dr. Blair’s research will be vital in UK’s work toward solutions for two of Kentucky’s most urgent health care needs – cardiovascular disease and cancer. His lab seeks to understand how genetic mutations, chemotherapies, and other factors that alter the mechanical function of cardiomyocytes lead to myocardial dysfunction that ultimately develops into heart failure.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the chemotherapies have off-target effects that damage the components of the heart,” Dr. Blair said. One of his research focuses is to understand how cancer drugs degrade the functional units of the heart cells and develop therapeutic interventions that enhance the heart cell’s ability to regenerate and restore mechanical function.

After his graduate training, Dr. Blair completed a five-year postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since his return to UK, Dr. Blair has commended the work of ODEI in creating new programs to enhance representation in science, both for trainees and faculty. He is thrilled to play a role in the change.

DARTS strives to grow a more inclusive academic medicine workforce by creating opportunities for faculty who are invested in supporting inclusive excellence.

“Knowing that I will be able to help create a more comfortable environment for young researchers from underrepresented groups is a big deal,” he said. “I definitely want to be someone that is thought of as not only a minority professor, but someone who is genuinely passionate about developing young scientists, especially those from underrepresented minority groups, to make sure we have a more inclusive and diverse University as a whole.”

This story was originally in the Winter 2023 Mosaic Newsletter from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.