Harold S. Luft Award

We are delighted to announce that for 2016, we have co-awardees for the Harold S. Luft Award for Mentoring in Health Services and Health Policy Research:  Drs. Andrew Bindman and Dean Schillinger. Not only is each an exemplary mentor, but one (Andy) has mentored the other (Dean) for over 20 years, highlighting a continuing tradition of mentorship, and both have benefitted greatly from a mutually supportive relationship throughout their stellar careers.

Andrew Bindman, MDAndrew Bindman, MD, is a former director of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. At UCSF, Andy is Professor of Medicine, Health Policy, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and a core faculty member in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. He has practiced, taught and conducted health services research for more than 30 years. For most of that time, he was based at San Francisco General Hospital (now Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center) where he was chief of the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine. Andy also directed the UCSF Primary Care Research Fellowship and was Director of the California Medicaid Research Institute. He has published extensively, with a focus on access to care and health outcomes, and he has received many awards and national recognition for his research and policy-related work, including election to the National Academy of Medicine.

During 2009-2010, Andy was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow on the staff of the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee chaired by Congressman Henry Waxman. In that role, Andy actively participated in the policy process that resulted in federal health reform through the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Andy’s other policy roles have included:  Senior Adviser to the Office of Health Policy in the US Department of Health and Human Services (2011-14) and Senior Adviser to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (2014-15). 

Dean Schillinger, MD, is Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Chief of the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.  At ZSFG, Dean sees patients and conducts research related to healthcare for vulnerable populations. An internationally recognized expert in communication science, his work focuses on literacy, health communication, and chronic disease prevention and management. In 2006, he founded the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations (CVP), whose mission is to carry out innovative research to prevent and treat chronic disease in populations for whom social conditions conspire to promote chronic disease and make its management more challenging. He currently directs the UCSF Health Communications Research Program at CVP.

Dean has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2013 Everett M. Rogers Award from APHA for advancing the study and practice of public health communication and the 2016 James L. Irvine Leadership Award. Dean served as Chief of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program for the California Department of Public Health (2008-13), and is the co-founder of TheBiggerPicture.org, a social marketing prevention campaign to empower minority youth to change the conversation about diabetes and become agents of positive social change. Dean’s expert scientific report in the landmark federal case, Am. Beverage Assoc. v City and County of San Francisco, was critical to the defeat of industry’s attempt to block implementation of the ordinance requiring warning labels on sugary drink advertisements.

Here are some excerpts from the letters nominating Andy Bindman and Dean Schillinger:

Excerpts from letters nominating Andy:

Andy’s mentoring included: his infectious passion for research and pursuit of excellence; his patience and willingness to support me to do research, despite my lack of experience and training (and yes, I got the research bug); the ability to teach me how to harness research methods to pursue important policy and advocacy objectives; and his ability to show me how to work with policymakers, how to translate research findings into the language that policymakers can use, and the importance of getting involved in implementation in the real-world.

He was invaluable in connecting me to funding resources, foundation contacts, and colleagues with whom to collaborate. And with his support, I was able to publish foundational papers in my field in prestigious journals.

Andy has a consistent focus on the well-being of his mentees, both professional and personal.

--one example: When a medical problem forced me to take a two-month leave, he visited me at home and very generously reduced my work burden by taking some on himself and by asking Division colleagues to assist.

--another example:  About 2 years after my residency interview with Andy, I became ill. While I was at home recovering (and worrying about the impact on my career), my home phone rang. It was Andy--reintroducing himself, reminding me of our long-ago conversation, and offering his help.

I have heard Andy say that the thing he most enjoys about mentoring fellows is the opportunity to help shape the careers of those who come after him. His founding leadership and involvement in the UCSF Primary Care Research Fellowship has made the program a major source of new clinician-investigators who do high-impact, rigorous, policy-oriented research.

Excerpts from letters nominating Dean

My colleagues continually marvel at Dean’s availability to me and to his other mentees despite his enormous responsibilities. He reads each manuscript we write together with attention to every word, and this scrutiny always elevates the work. He promotes my work among our colleagues at every opportunity, yet never volunteers me for anything without my permission. Through his recommendations, I have received invitations to speak at national meetings, established research collaborations, and secured a place- and funds- on numerous grants. He has led me to other mentors and colleagues, and given me guidance in my own mentoring endeavors.

Dr. Schillinger provided input into my first independent grants and has seamlessly transitioned from mentor to colleague, gracefully allowing me to lead. He encouraged me to apply for a P30 center grant that fit well in my content area, despite my relatively few years of experience, and, with his solid strategic advice, mine was one of 5 centers funded nationally. Most importantly, I am not alone in this experience. Several of my colleagues in our division have received large center grants at relatively junior stages, and our division does not have a single person with funding shortfalls.

It is much easier to mentor people through successes than challenges; I have never met anyone who can shepherd a protégé past a mistake, or through a challenging time, like Dr. Schillinger.

Although he is very tactful, he does not hesitate to discuss my shortcomings in a way that allows me to learn and grow.

In addition to excellent guidance in traditional academic mentorship, Dean is also there during personally challenging periods. For example, I strongly felt his support when my 10-month-old son had to have a bone marrow transplant. He sees the bigger picture of life, not just academia, and understands the importance of family, friends, and self-care—so that we can be the best that we can be to take care of our patients and staff. I would be extremely proud to become someone like Dean when I “grow up.” 

Previous Winners

2015: Ken Covinsky, MDa clinician-researcher in the UCSF Division of Geriatrics

2014: Wendy Max, PhD, Director of the Institute for Health & Aging and Professor of Health Economics in the School of Nursing‘s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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 at UCSF

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

2009: Lisa A. Bero, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Clinical Pharmacy at UCSF

About Hal Luft

Harold (Hal) Luft, PhD, joined the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and UCSF in 1978.  Before that, he was a faculty member at Stanford University and Associate Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program.  He became Associate Director of the Institute in 1986, Acting Director in 1993, and 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 and health policy leaders.  Dr. Luft often refers to himself as a 30+ 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 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 in July 2008, but he maintains an Emeritus Professor title at UCSF and continues to serve as a mentor.  Indeed, he has built training and research bridges between the two institutes.