Academic Affairs & Faculty Development

VPCAT Research Scholars Program

Outcomes and Successes

The VPCAT Research Scholars Program is a highly successful program with current and alumni scholars surpassing all expectations (see VPCAT Success Overview). Of our 202 program participants, 40 are current scholars with 162 graduates as of FY2021. Inclusion was enhanced following the introduction of the program; more than half of the total scholars are women (108; 53%) and 19 (9%) are from under-represented minority (URM) groups, compared with the overall health sciences faculty in which 32% are women and 2% are from URM groups.

VPCAT Victories $159 Million

Of our graduates, the majority (140; 86%) achieved the goal of becoming principal investigators of at least one award, with awards continuing to accrue following graduation. In total, our graduated scholars, including those from Intermountain Healthcare and those who transitioned their research careers to new institutions, have received 633 new awards valued at over $172 million during and after their participation. For University of Utah graduated scholars, specifically, they have received 609 new awards valued at over $159 million during and after their participation, representing $28 million in indirect costs. These University of Utah totals include more than 245 federal extramural awards, including 55 federal K awards (K23, K12, VA CDA, etc.); 12 K equivalent awards; 19 R01s; 14 R03s, 11 R21s, 8 U01s, and 35 other R equivalent federal awards (R61, R13, R56, DoD, CDC, USDA, etc.). Further, graduated scholars have served as a site leads on 91 federally funded subcontracts.

Importantly, 79% of all scholars (45% female and 34% male) remain at the University of Utah and 98% remain in academic medicine. These retention rates are higher than other health sciences Assistant Professors, who overall had a retention rate of 60% for FY2008-2015 at the University of Utah and similar or lower rates at other institutions. VPCAT scholar attrition (21%) is also substantially lower than the AAMC’s 2019 report of 41% attrition of MD clinical first-time Assistant Professors and 39% PhD basic first-time Assistant Professors by 10 years.

In addition to faculty retention, the return on the institutional investment in the VPCAT program is substantial. By leveraging and coordinating many institutional resources, program costs are kept reasonable despite our unique infrastructure that offers resources for the scholars, compensation for the senior mentors, and a dedicated staff, which includes an administrative director, program coordinator, and research manager. Since our expansion to all of health sciences in FY2013, the $3.8 million in program expenses have been offset by more than $28 million in total indirects awarded to our University of Utah scholars, with a return on investment of over 7 to 1.

What was once a pilot program now serves as the University of Utah's signature mentoring program that has increased our research capacity and contributed substantially to the institution achieving its most successful research funding year ever in FY2020.