Academic Affairs & Faculty Development

VPCAT Research Scholars Program

Alumni VPCAT Mentors

Barbara B. Brown, PhD (2018-2019)

Title:  Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Social and Behavioral Science & Member, Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, HCI, University of Utah

Dr. Brown is an environmental psychologist and serves as Adjunct Professor of Psychology. She maintains her affiliation with Cancer Control & Population Sciences. Her work has been funded by NIH (NCI and NIDDK) and National Institute of Justice. Dr. Brown's work focuses on whether walkability, or other aspects of the physical environment, relate to cancer risk factors, such as insufficient physical activity and high BMI. 

As a mentor, she was eager to work with VPCAT because she knew how difficult it can be to develop grant proposals without such supports. She wished VPCAT had been around when she needed it! In addition, prior to accepting her role in our program, Dr. Brown finished a quasi-experimental field experiment that required mentoring of undergraduates, graduates, research, and program staff. She utilized her 5 ½ years of experience as editor of Environment & Behavior to serve as her scholars' “unclarity detector.”


Michael B. Cohen, MD (2013-2017)

Title:  Professor, Department of Pathology, Wake Forest School of Medicine | Adjunct Professor, Department of Orthopaedics, University of Utah

Dr. Michael Cohen is currently a Professor of Pathology at Wake Forest School of Medicine. He is board certified in both anatomic pathology and cytopathology. Dr. Cohen’s clinical work focuses on cytopathology, including fine-needle aspiration biopsies. He has been an extramurally funded investigator focused on prostate cancer, and more recently has focused on lung cancer and diagnostic errors, as well as process improvement.

He was previously at the University of Utah where he was a Professor and Vice Chair in Pathology, Director of Research in the Department of Orthopaedics, and Ombudsman for the Health Sciences Center. Before joining the University of Utah, he was a faculty member at Columbia University, UCSF, and the University of Iowa, where he was a professor and head of the Department of Pathology. 

Dr. Cohen was a member of the IOM Committee that wrote Improving Diagnosis in Health Care. His research has resulted in more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as books, book chapters, and presentations. He has received the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, Regents Award for Faculty Excellence (University of Iowa), and a President’s Award from the CAP. 


Rena D'Souza, DDS, MS, PhD (2018-2020)

Title:  Director, NIH National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research | Professor Emeritus, School of Dentistry, University of Utah

Dr. Rena D'Souza is a clinician-scientist and serves as the Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). She was formerly the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Education for Health Sciences at the University of Utah where she was also a Professor of Dentistry in the School of Dentistry and a Professor of Neurobiology &Anatomy in the School of Medicine.

As a VPCAT senior mentor, she reminded her scholars that her academic life was fueled by her passions for discovery and mentoring the next generation of biomedical researchers. Dr. D'Souza strived to help each scholar discover their potential and find ways to facilitate their goals by sharing her expertise and experiences and through open communication.

Dr. D'Souza's experience included 35 years of mentoring over 135 trainees, mostly clinician-scientists; her experience as a PI and Director of two major NIH-funded T32 Programs for training physician-scientists; serving on Workforce for Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director, to assess status of physician-scientists; over 30 years of continuous funding; and, at the time, over 125 peer-reviewed manuscripts in the field of craniofacial development, genetics, and regeneration.

Phone:  (301) 496-3571

Julie M. Fritz, PhD, PT, ATC (2015-2020)

Title:  Distinguished Professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training & Associate Dean for Research, College of Health, University of Utah

Dr. Julie Fritz was a VPCAT senior mentor for over six years. She has had multiple opportunities to mentor junior faculty as the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Health. Dr. Fritz chose to be a VPCAT mentor because she had seen the impact our program has had on the careers of faculty members and she wanted to help the program continue to flourish. She has learned a great deal from herparticipation in VPCAT program as well.


Adi V. Gundlapalli, MD, PhD (2016-2018)

Title:  Chief Public Health Informatics Officer, Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, CDC | Adjunct Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah

Dr. Adi Gundlapalli considered it a privilege to be able to care for patients, conduct research to benefit patients, and teach in a premier academic setting. Over the last 20 years, he had the good fortune of being a mentor to 15 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior investigators and several medical students, residents, and clinical fellows. During this time, he served as a VPCAT senior mentor to 3 outstanding young researchers.

Dr. Gundlapalli's philosophy on mentoring has evolved over the years and has been shaped by being a life-long learner and mentee, benefiting from outstanding mentors, and a firm believer in passing on lessons learned! He stated, "Though we come from different backgrounds, we are all on an academic path…so, why not walk together to make the journey pleasant? Knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied!"


Kimberly E. Hanson, MD, MHS (2014-2019)

Title:  Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah

Dr. Kimberly Hanson joined our program in 2014 with a great deal of experience mentoring students (MD and PhD), residents, and fellows through the Infectious Diseases Society of America. She accepted her role as a VPCAT senior mentor because she wanted to “pay it forward.” She enjoyed sharing recent experiences as a junior investigator as well as insights for navigating the retention/promotion process. Further, she stated, during her time as a mentor, she enjoyed helping empower scholars to achieve their career goals just as others had her.


Jakob D. Jensen, PhD (2018-2019)

Title:  Professor, Department of Communication and Associate Dean for Research, College of Humanities | Member, Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, HCI, University of Utah

Dr. Jakob Jensen is an Associate Dean for Research in the College of Humanities, a Professor in the Department of Communication, and a member of the Cancer Control & Population Sciences Core in the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He is an expert in health communication with a research focus on the strategic communication of health information to the public, with a special focus on cancer. Dr. Jensen routinely works with public health departments to design and evaluate their campaigns, interventions, and programs. Most recently, he worked with the Utah Department of Health on the design and evaluation of colorectal and breast cancer screening campaigns.


Kimberly A. Kaphingst, SCD (2018-2019)

Title:  Professor, Department of Communication, College of Humanities | Member, Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, HCI, University of Utah

Dr. Kimberly Kaphingst is a health communication researcher and a member of the Cancer Control & Population Sciences Core in the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Her research interests are in health literacy, cancer communication, family history, and the communication of genetic and genomic information, and she uses both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Currently, Dr. Kaphingst's research focuses on the communication of genetic and genomic information to patients and the general public. Her team is particularly interested in how health literacy and numeracy impact cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to this information among individuals from diverse communities.


Kristen A. Keefe, PhD (2015-2019)

Title:  Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, University of Utah

Dr. Keefe has mentored over seven post-docs and 12 graduate students in biomedical sciences. She serves regularly on NIH study sections for both R-series grants, as well as F- and T-series Fellowships. Dr. Keefe was an honored recipient of the University of Utah 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award and the 2012 Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Distinguished Mentor Award.

She served as a VPCAT senior mentor since 2015 because, "I like to serve others to increase the success of us all." Dr. Keefe's mentoring philosophy continues to be, “Serve as a sounding board for ideas regarding research, as well as career/life plans. Serve as a ‘maven’ for information about research areas (basic biomedical sciences) and the institution and available resources. Serve as a “connector” to help mentees connect with people in the institution.


Janice M. Morse, RN, PhD, FAAN (2014-2019)

Title:  Distinguish Professor Emeritus, College of Nursing, University of Utah

In 2020, Dr. Janice Morse retired as a Distinguished Professor and the Ida May “Dotty” Barnes, RN, and Keith Barnes, MD, Presidential Endowed Chair. Dr. Morse has been involved with the University of Utah since 1978, when she entered the College of Nursing's second PhD cohort. She spent twenty years at the University of Alberta, six years at Penn State, and although she is a Kiwi at heart, she “came home” to the College of Nursing in 2007. She used her background in anthropology to study behavior using qualitative research methods. She was instrumental in the development of methods, to clarify methods of concepts and theory development, and to communicate the value of qualitative inquiry. Dr. Morse taught qualitative methods in courses and international workshops for three decades, mentored postdoctoral students, and published extensively about qualitative inquiry. She believed her greatest contribution was the establishment of the International Institute of Qualitative Methodology (IIQM) in 1997 at the University of Alberta. Ultimately, her research programs were in the areas of suffering and comforting, preventing patient falls, and developing qualitative and mixed methods. From 2014-2019, she served as a VPCAT senior mentor guiding and supporting multiple scholars towards success!


Leigh A. Neumayer, MD, MS, FACS (2013-2014)

Title:  Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery and Methodist Medical Center Professor of Surgery in Transplantation, University of Florida

Dr. Leigh A. Neumayer - internationally known for her expertise in breast cancer surgery and research, advocacy for women’s health issues, and leadership in surgical education - is the chair of the University of Arizona College of Medicine's Department of Surgery and the Margaret E. and Fenton L. Maynard Endowed Chair in Breast Cancer Research.

At the University of Utah, Dr. Neumayer served as professor of surgery, vice chair for academic affairs, and co-director of the multidisciplinary team treating breast cancer at Huntsman Cancer Institute. She held a Jon and Karen Huntsman Presidential Professorship in Cancer Research. She has long been an advocate for women’s health, both at the University of Utah and the Salt Lake City Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. At the University of Utah, Dr. Neumayer directed the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to assist junior faculty members in developing research initiatives in women’s health. She was instrumental in building a successful multidisciplinary research program in breast cancer at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which includes basic, translational, and clinic trial components.


Craig R. Nichols, MD  (2016-2017)

Craig R. Nichols, MD (2016-2017)

Dr. Nichols began his academic career on the faculty at Indiana University. His mid-career was as division chief and Vice Chair of the Cancer Center at Oregon Health and Science University. He has been involved in oncology leadership through board positions with Leukemia Lymphoma Society and LIVESTRONG. Since joining ASCO in 1986, Dr. Nichols has served the Society in numerous volunteer capacities, including as a member of the CancerLinQ Board of Governors and as ASCO Treasurer.

Siam Oottamasathien, MD (2015-2017)

Title:  Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School | Director, Innovation and Technology Development, Department of Urology, Boston Children’s Hospital | Director of Pediatric Urology Basic Science Research, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children Division of Pediatric Urology | Adjunct Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Utah

Dr. Siam Oottamasathien is the Director of Innovation and Technology Development in the Department of Urology at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is also the Director of Pediatric Urology Basic Science Research in the Division of Pediatric Urology at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. He launched a pediatric urology basic science research program at for his previous group at the University of Utah in 2007. His initial work was in the Department of Human Molecular Biology and Genetics, investigating the role of T-box proteins in genitourinary development. During that time, he gained invaluable research tools, developed elaborate experimental designs, including the use of germ-line and conditional mutagenesis experiments in mice, and further enhanced his background in genitourinary embryology, molecular biology, and developmental biology. In addition, he was awarded a 3-year NIH T32 training grant (5T32HL079874) under the auspices of Nobel Laureate Dr. Mario Capecchi and received NIH loan repayment program (LRP) funding for pediatric research. After spending a year and a half along this line of research, more clinical translational science was necessary and he partnered with the laboratory of Glenn Prestwich, PhD, a senior investigator and presidential professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Utah.

Since establishing his collaboration with Dr. Prestwich, his projects have demonstrated great potential in making a significant impact towards treating both adult and pediatric urologic disease conditions. The scientific aspects build upon novel hyaluronic acid (HA)—based biomaterials and have been used to investigate and treat bladder inflammatory, pain, and fibrotic conditions. His research efforts continue to represent significant, innovative, and high-impact science that continues to move the field of urology forward.


John D. Phillips, PhD (2013-2021)

Title:  Professor, Department of Internal Medicine and Director, HSC Core Research Facilities, University of Utah

Dr. Phillips served in the VPCAT program since it first transitioned to VPCAT from PCAT back in 2013, which serves to remind us of just how much he has contributed to the program and how much he has helped shape it over the years. Dr. Phillips has mentored 15 VPCAT scholars, and the impact of his mentoring has been transforming for so many of them. When asked why he served as a program mentor, he stated, “I feel that passing along the valuable lessons learned from my mentors I am fulfilling one of the tenants of mentoring: “Paying it Forward.” […] Establishing a relationship with mentees that is supportive for all facets of the early phase career, additional education, science, and technical resource management, is essential for developing a robust, successful scientific career within health today.” It was his goal to be a great resource to those that he mentored directly and indirectly, and he accomplished that goal!


Michael A. Rubin, MD, PhD, MS (2014-2017)

Title:  Professor and Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs and Development, Internal Medicine and Director, VPCAT Program, University of Utah

Dr. Michael Rubin is a Tenured Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah with a nationally recognized research program around antibiotic resistance and infection prevention. He is an innovator and leader in faculty development, both at the University and the VA. Within the VA, he serves as the Section Chief of Epidemiology and the Associate Director for the Salt Lake VA Informatics, Decision Enhancement, and Surveillance (IDEAS) Center. As part of his position in the IDEAS Center, he leads the IDEAS Mentoring and Career Development Program, which oversees the mentoring of early-career VA investigators and supports the submission of VA career development awards. Dr. Rubin relishes and excels in the mentoring of others to ensure their success, which has led to several additional leadership roles across the University. He serves as the Vice Chair for Faculty Development for the Department of Internal Medicine, charged with facilitating the success of approximately 400 faculty in areas including faculty advancement, mentoring, leadership development, and career satisfaction. In 2016, he accepted the role as Director of the VPCAT Research Scholars Program.

Further, Dr. Rubin is an experienced investigator with a history of extramural funding and expertise in health services research and implementation science encompassing the domains of medical informatics, decision-support systems, and computer simulation modeling, particularly as these relate to topics in infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance, and infection control surveillance. His research focus is on preventable healthcare-associated infections (HAI) and infections with multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO), including Clostridioides difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. He is a national leader in antimicrobial stewardship, simulation modeling, and population health tool development for electronic health records. Relevant recent and ongoing projects include longitudinal epidemiologic analyses of MDRO infection rates, hospital-based interventions to reduce device-associated infections and antimicrobial prescribing, and the development of state-of-the-art computer simulation models to test novel HAI intervention strategies and to analyze their clinical and economic impacts. Through his expertise and the strong collaboration and unified vision of the University of Utah and his VA operational partners, Dr. Rubin has been instrumental in advancing national priorities for infection prevention and surveillance using advanced informatics methods and tools.


Bert N. Uchino, PhD (2016-2017)

Title:  Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, College of Social & Behavioral Science, University of Utah

For over two years, Dr. Bert Uchino served as a VPCAT senior mentor strongly guiding his scholars. He utilized his knowledge of the University of Utah along with his mentoring experience to engage and participate in the program. Dr. Uchino's research has been aimed at examining how social relationships influence health at multiple levels of analysis. He has been examining the social (e.g., types of social interactions), cognitive (e.g., how these interactions are interpreted or construed), and physiological (e.g., cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune) processes associated with our all important social relationships.


Paul C. Young, MD (2014-2015 | 2007-2014 PCAT Mentor)

Title:  Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah

Dr. Paul Young received his undergraduate education at Duke University and his M.D. from Northwestern University Medical School. After completing postgraduate training in pediatrics at the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and a Fellowship at the Family Health Care Program of the Children’s Hospital in Boston, he joined the faculty of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in 1972. In 1992 he joined the faculty of the University of Utah where he is a Professor in the Division of General Pediatrics. He was the Secretary of the Academic Pediatric Association from 2000-2003 and served as the Program Chair of the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting Program Committee from 2004-2007. He is the recipient of the Gary Schoenwolf Mentoring award from the Department of Pediatrics and the Marty Palmer Service to Children award from the Utah chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.