Harold S. Luft Mentoring Award

The Harold S. Luft Award for Mentoring in Health Services and Health Policy Research is sponsored by the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF. The award recognizes UCSF faculty who are engaged in health services and/or health policy research, provide mentoring in these areas, and in their mentoring roles demonstrate the qualities exemplified by Dr. Luft.


DEADLINE: April 7, 2023

Health Services and Health Policy Research covers a range of topics, including how social factors, financing processes, health technologies, laws and regulations, and personal behaviors, among other factors, affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately, our health and well-being. The main goals of this research are to identify the most effective ways to organize, finance, and deliver high-quality care; reduce medical errors; and improve patient safety.


UCSF senior faculty, at Associate or Full Professor rank, with research/teaching interests in health policy and/or health services research (HP/HSR). Nomination letters should demonstrate that nominees have made significant or sustained impact on the professional development of individuals they have mentored.


  1. Inspire and stimulate mentees to do their best and most creative work in HSR/HP.
  2. Expand mentees’ ways of thinking by fostering appreciation of different points of view.
  3. Develop career opportunities for mentees.
  4. Create communities of learners and maintain life-long contact with mentees.
  5. Serve as a role model in leadership, professionalism, integrity and life balance that goes beyond the scope of their individual job responsibilities.

Nominator must be a current or past mentee of nominee and be involved in health policy and/or health services research.


Nomination should include one primary and two supporting letters (no longer than 2 pages each) describing how the nominee meets the above criteria.  Specific, but brief examples or anecdotes are helpful.  Please include the nominee's recent CV with a list of the nominee’s mentees (noting, if possible, their current positions).

Please address letters to the Award Selection Committee and send via email by April 7, 2023, to Joanne Spetz, PhD and Juliana Fung (joanne.spetz@ucsf.edu; juliana.fung@ucsf.edu).

Award Selection Committee includes representatives from the four UCSF schools. 

Award – a framed certificate will be presented to the award recipient. The individual's name will appear on a permanent plaque at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, and the individual’s profile will be posted on the Institute’s website.


About Hal Luft

Harold (Hal) Luft, PhD, joined the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and UCSF in 1978 after five years at Stanford University as a faculty member and Associate Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. He became Associate Director of the Institute in 1986, became Acting Director in 1993, and was named Director in 1995. Since its inception in 1972, the Institute has been extremely fortunate to have leaders with broad vision, exceptional standards of excellence, and clarity of purpose. As the Institute's second director, Dr. Luft contributed to and exemplified the Institute’s legacy of leadership and service.

That legacy includes the training and mentoring of future health services research and health policy leaders. Dr. Luft often refers to himself as a 40+ years' postdoc because he has been involved in teaching and mentoring graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and interns for more than 30 years and has also advised junior faculty. He himself has been an exemplary teacher, mentor, and role model, and under Dr. Luft's directorship, the Institute, which is an organized research unit, continued and enhanced its leadership role in interdisciplinary training.

Dr. Luft was named Director of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI) in July 2008, but he maintains an Emeritus Professor title at UCSF. He continues his dedication to training future leaders in health services research and health policy, and he continues to serve as a mentor to postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty.

Urmimala Sarkar

"I have been fortunate to have worked with a number of qualified research mentors, but Dr. Sarkar has stood out as truly exceptional." - nominating letter

Urmimala Sarkar MD, MPH is Professor of Medicine at UCSF in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Associate Chair for Faculty Experience for the Department of Medicine, Associate Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, and a primary care physician at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital’s Richard H. Fine People's Clinic. She is also affiliated faculty with the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. Dr. Sarkar’s work centers on innovating for health equity and improving the safety and quality of outpatient care for everyone, especially low-income and diverse populations. Her expertise spans topics including medical errors and patient safety, diabetes, and cancer prevention and survivorship. Dr. Sarkar’s research is collaborative and intersects with methods found in human-centered design, human factors engineering, data science, health services research, and implementation science. Dr. Sarkar believes that mentoring and training with a commitment to diversity and inclusion are critical to achieving health equity. She advances health equity scholarship by mentoring students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty at UCSF and beyond.


Previous Winners

2021: Pamela Ling, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, UCSF

2020: Mary Whooley, MD Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, and Director of the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Medical Effectiveness (CHIME) at the San Francisco VA and UCSF

2019: Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS Professor and Vice Dean for Population Health and Health Equity, UCSF School of Medicine

2018: Margot Kushel, MD Professor and Director of UCSF's Center for Vulnerable Populations

2017: Mary-Margaret (Meg) Chren, MD, Professor, Department of Dermatology at UCSF

2016: Andrew Bindman, MD, Professor, Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, UCSF School of Medicine

2016: Dean Schillinger, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital

2015: Ken Covinsky, MD, Clinician-Researcher, Division of Geriatrics, UCSF School of Medicine

2014: Wendy Max, PhD, Professor and Director, Institute for Health & Aging, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF School of Nursing

2013: Edward H. Yelin, PhD, Professor, UCSF Department of Medicine’s Division of Rheumatology and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies

2011: Ruth E. Malone, PhD, MS, RN, Professor and Chair, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, UCSF School of Nursing

2010:  Michael D. Cabana, MD, MPH, Professor and Director, Division of General Pediatrics, UCSF School of Medicine

2009: Lisa A. Bero, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, UCSF School of Pharmacy (currently Professor in Pharmacy and the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney, Australia)