Harold S. Luft Award for Mentoring in Health Services and Health Policy Research

Harold S. Luft Award for Mentoring

in Health Services and Health Policy Research  

2022 Recpient

 Urmimala Sarkar, MD, MPH

We are delighted to announce that Urmimala Sarkar, MD, MPH, has been selected as the 2022 recipient of the Harold S. Luft Award for Mentoring in Health Services and Health Policy Research, awarded by the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies.



"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.


Excerpts from letters nominating Urmimala Sarkar:

"She is frequently asked to give talks about mentorship, sponsorship, and advancement, particularly for women in academic research. She has also been able to increase her impact on a wide range of mentees by publishing monthly blog posts focused on navigating various aspects of academic life, including leadership, professionalism, and life balance."

"I have been inspired by her commitment to ensuring work-life balance. I know these types of conversations are uncommon and have been fortunate enough to relay these insights to innumerable peers who have now also benefited from her willingness to share." 

"I have had the privilege of working with Urmimala one-on-one, in small groups, and within larger research seminars and meetings, and she has been an exceptional teacher and role model in all of those settings."

"She is the person I come to first with all research and career-related questions or issues, and she continues to inspire me with thoughtful advice, dedicated time, and a true collaborative spirit. My questions have changed over time in my career, but her mentorship skills continually improve ahead of me!"

"While Urmimala has helped my research career immensely, it is the interpersonal aspects of her mentoring that has really been the most meaningful and influential to me. She not only puts my name forward for sponsorship and leadership opportunities (both internally and externally) that could advance my career, but she is extremely thoughtful about that process to ensure that I am getting the best kinds of experiences that showcase my strengths and talents."

"I have been impressed with Dr. Sarkar’s methodological and content expertise, but also with her eagerness to foster her mentee community and opportunities for collaboration. Dr. Sarkar’s focus has consistently been on supporting mentees who would not otherwise thrive in research, including historically excluded groups in medicine, women of color, and new parents."


Harold (Hal) S. Luft, PhD

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 (IHPS) at UCSF. The award specifically recognizes UCSF faculty who are engaged in the multidisciplinary field of health services and/or health policy research (HSR/HP), provide targeted mentoring in these specific areas, and in their mentoring roles, demonstrate the qualities exemplified by Dr. Luft. 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).

Nominations are currently closed.  Please check back in Spring, 2023.


Award Selection Committee includes representatives from the four UCSF schools. A framed certificate will be presented to the award recipient, as well as a reception will be held in their honor. 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 IHPS's website.

Previous winners

Hal Luft Award

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

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, MDProfessor, Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, UCSF School of Medicine

2016: Dean Schillinger, MDProfessor 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)

About Hal Luft

Harold (Hal) Luft, PhD, joined the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (IHPS) 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 IHPS in 1986, became Acting Director in 1993, and was named Director in 1995. Since its inception in 1972, IHPS has been extremely fortunate to have leaders with broad vision, exceptional standards of excellence, and clarity of purpose. As IHPS's second director, Dr. Luft contributed to and exemplified IHPS’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, IHPS, 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, and 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.