Brooklyn College has appointed Peter Tolias, Ph.D., as dean of the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, effective August 17, 2020.

Tolias most recently served as director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation (2013-20) and professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (2014-20) at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He was the founding director of this university-wide educational and research center, which grew to more than 70 affiliated faculty from all schools, while simultaneously serving as a department chair in the Schaefer School of Engineering & Science.

His major accomplishments as director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation included significantly increasing the total value of university annual extramural R&D spending, obtaining donations in equipment and supplies from leading industry partners to help establish and support a 3,000-square-foot biotechnology and drug discovery laboratory, acquiring philanthropic support for research scholarships, and securing multiple private-donor gifts totaling $6 million.

“Dr. Tolias brings a wealth of experience, not only in the classroom and in administration, but also in research and program innovation. His vision will help distinguish the school and support high levels of achievement among students, staff, and faculty,” said Anne Lopes, Brooklyn College’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

With more than three decades of results-driven experience as a senior academic administrator leading academic departments, institutes, and university-wide research and educational centers at both public and private universities, Tolias’ expertise as a professor is centered in the fields of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology; microbiology; immunology; genetics; genomics; proteomics; tissue engineering and music. Tolias possesses a proven track record in translational research and development and personalized precision medicine applied to diagnostics, medical devices, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals. He has authored peer-reviewed scientific publications and patents, editorials, and books. He has also received more than 40 research grants, contracts, and awards totaling $8 million as principal investigator and an additional $10 million as co-principal investigator.

A Canadian citizen by birth, Tolias is a first-generation college graduate who has spent his career supporting underserved communities and promoting diversity in education.

“For the past several years, I have been focused on increasing student enrollment and academic achievement scores, supporting faculty, and promoting and expanding programs,” Tolias said. “I plan to continue that important work at Brooklyn College through development of new interdisciplinary academic programs tailored for student success in the post–COVID-19 world and expanding research opportunities for faculty and students, by strengthening public partnerships and philanthropic efforts that will help us grow. These are unusual times, and science will play a bigger role than ever before. Together, we will make the college’s School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences even more of an asset to New York City, the region, and the world.”

At Stevens, Tolias’s research focused on drug discovery and development, within the Center for Healthcare Innovation’s state-of-the-art biotechnology and preclinical drug discovery facilities staffed with 12 researchers formerly from the pharmaceutical industry along with graduate and undergraduate students. His team explored therapeutic disease targets of interest and identified model compounds for structure/activity entry points and scaffold platforms in drug discovery projects. Current research was focused on his team’s discovery and development of inhibitors of three key cancer genes.

Prior to Stevens, he was the executive director of the Institute of Genomic Medicine, and research director of the Autism Center and professor of pediatrics at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (2007–12). Previously, Tolias served as worldwide vice president of advanced research and technology assessment in the diagnostic division of Johnson & Johnson (2003–06) and executive vice president of corporate development at Rosetta Genomics (2006–07). Earlier in his career, he was an associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the New Jersey Medical School, an associate member of the New York Public Health Research Institute, and earlier as an assistant member.

Professor Tolias earned his B.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from McGill University (Montreal). He received postdoctoral training in cellular, molecular, and developmental biology at Harvard University as well as executive training in management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.