In Memoriam: A. William Blackstock, Jr., MD

(April 29, 1963–June 18, 2023)

A. William Blackstock Jr., MD, a radiation oncologist and cancer center leader, was a passionate advocate for innovative and inclusive cancer research and workforce diversity.

Dr. Blackstock was born April 29, 1963, in Eden, North Carolina. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wake Forest University and a medical degree from East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine. He completed his residency and a fellowship at University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, where he won a national award for best research by a resident in radiation oncology.

Dr. Blackstock began his career as an instructor at the UNC School of Medicine and a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 1996, Dr. Blackstock joined the Department of Radiation Oncology at Wake Forest Baptist Health (known today as Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist) as a clinician and a professor of radiation oncology and cancer biology. From 2008 until his death, he served as department chairperson, becoming one of the first Black scientists to chair a department of radiation oncology. From 2022 to 2023, he also served as interim director of the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Blackstock’s clinical practice focused primarily on patients with gastrointestinal and lung cancer. As a researcher, he led numerous Phase I and Phase II clinical trials that examined novel drugs and treatment approaches in combination with radiation therapy. His research on esophageal cancer and the prognostic value of PET-based response led to changes in the assessment of treatment response.

Dr. Blackstock published more than 100 academic journal articles and book chapters. He served on councils for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. He was also a passionate advocate for health equity, publishing research on social determinants of health for African Americans with lung cancer.

Dr. Blackstock became a member of the AACR in 2001. He served on the committee for the AACR Distinguished Lectureship on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities from 2012–2013, and on the Research Grant Review Committee from 2014–2015. He was a member of Minorities in Cancer Research and the Radiation Science and Medicine Working Group.

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