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). that has support surpassed. Of our 168 program participants, 40 are current scholars with 128 graduates as of FY2019. Inclusion was enhanced following the introduction of the program; more than half of the total scholars are women (89; 53%) and 13 (8%) 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.
Of our graduates, the majority (103; 80%) achieved the goal of becoming principal investigators of at least one award, with awards continuing to accrue following graduation. Our scholars have been awarded 457 grants valued at over $110 million during and after their participation, representing $19 million in indirect costs. These totals include more than 41 federal career development awards; 53 NIH P/R/U or VA Merit Awards or equivalents; and over 80 association or foundation awards.
Importantly, 84% of all scholars 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 retention rates are also substantially higher than the AAMC's 2014 report of 50% attrition of Assistant Professors in clinical departments by 7.9 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 $2.8 million in program expenses have been offset by more than $12.1 million in total indirects awarded to our scholars, with a return on investment of nearly 4 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 2018.