Described by her students as passionate, knowledgeable, proactive, and selfless, Anita Kablinger has been named the 2021 Research Mentor of the Year at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Kablinger, professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the school and a Carilion Clinic psychiatrist, was noted for her dedication to guiding medical students and ensuring the success of their research.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is one of only a few medical schools in the country that incorporates a mandatory rigorous, multi-year research project in its curriculum as one of its key value domains. Fourth-year students present their comprehensive projects either by oral or poster presentations at an annual Medical Student Research Symposium.

Kablinger will receive the award at this year’s symposium, set for March 26 starting at noon. In accordance with COVID-19 safety precautions, in-person attendance is limited to the Class of 2021 and select faculty members, though other guests are encouraged to register and attend virtually.

“Being recognized by medical students in this way is amazing,” Kablinger said. “I’m grateful that in my career I get to see patients, as well as teach, contribute to research, and mentor students, residents, and junior faculty. I have a dream job, and no two days are alike.”

Kablinger’s natural curiosity has led to a career full of new discoveries. She is the director of clinical trial research programs in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Carilion and is cited in hundreds of academic journals. She has presented her work at dozens of conferences both nationally and internationally.

“Dr. Kablinger has a wealth of knowledge regarding clinical research and all of its intricacies, and she does a great job of instilling this knowledge in her students,” said third-year medical student Caroline Woods. “She values her mentees' contributions and supports their academic development.”

Kablinger was noted for inspiring her student mentees.

“With Dr. Kablinger’s mentorship and guidance, I realized that I want to continue my involvement in clinical research as a resident and attending physician, making it a significant part of my career in medicine,” said Ayesha Kar, fourth-year student at the school. 

A number of students she mentored have continued their interest in research after graduation.

“Dr. Kablinger taught me what it means to be a mentor in research,” said Brian Saway, Class of 2020, who is now a neurosurgery resident at Medical University of South Carolina. “A mentor must be passionate. Her zeal for inquiry was magnetic, and whether it be a discussion on the topic of research or the neurosciences, it always ended with how we can better help our patients.”

Kablinger says a solid base in research makes students better future doctors because they must pay careful attention to detail but always be mindful of the bigger picture, which is patient care.

“Dr. Kablinger uses questions to help me think of any gaps in my research instead of telling me that something does not work,” said Sahana Nazeer, second-year student. “She teaches me how to think like a researcher, which is exceptionally valuable.”

Michael Friedlander, the medical school’s senior dean for research, said Kablinger embraced the school’s research domain whole-heartedly from the day she arrived in Roanoke. Friedlander is also Virginia Tech’s vice president for Health Sciences and Technology, and executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

“When I first met with her, I shared how important having a practicing psychiatrist with a solid research and considerable experience in clinical trials would be as we launched the research domain of our program to train scientist-physicians – and I wasn’t disappointed,” Friedlander said. “Dr. Kablinger has consistently provided dedicated mentorship and collegiality to many students and her fellow faculty over the last several years. She is truly deserving of this recognition.”

Kablinger earned a bachelor's degree from McMaster University and her medical degree from Chicago Medical School – Rosalind Franklin University where she also completed an internship. She completed her residency in general adult psychiatry at the University of Florida. She is a fellow in the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (from which she is also a designated Certified Principal Investigator) and is a distinguished fellow in both the Association of Academic Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association.

For an agenda and list of student presentations at the symposium as well as a link to register for the event, visit the medical school’s events page.