National Clinician Scholars Program

Advancing health through scholarship and action

University of Pennsylvania

David Asch, MD, MBA
Program Director

Judith Long, MD
Program Director

Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP
Program Director

Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN
Program Director

Julie Sochalski, PhD, FAAN, RN
Program Director

Marilyn Schapira, MD, MPH
Associate Director - VA Liaison

Traci Chupik, MSEd
Administrative Director

University of Pennsylvania
13th Floor, Blockley Hall
423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Website: Penn National Clinician Scholars Program

Affiliated VA Medical Center:
Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VAMC

David Asch

David Asch is Executive Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation. He is Professor of Medicine and Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine and Professor of Health Care Management and Professor of Operations and Information Management at the Wharton School. He is Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Asch teaches health policy at the Wharton School and he practices internal medicine at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he created and from 2001 to 2012 directed the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion—the Department of Veterans Affairs' national center to support vulnerable populations and reduce racial disparities. He created and from 2001 to 2014 directed the RWJF Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania. From 1998 to 2012 he was Executive Director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

Dr. Asch received his bachelor's degree from Harvard University, his MD from Weill-Cornell Medical College, and his MBA in Health Care Management and Decision Sciences from the Wharton School. He was a resident in Internal Medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians and the Institute of Medicine.

Judith Long

Judith A. Long, MD is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine as well as a core faculty member in VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, and a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics.  Dr. Long trained in Internal Medicine Primary Care at the University of California, San Francisco and completed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars fellowship at Yale.  Dr. Long's research focuses on social determinants of health and health care especially as they pertain to socioeconomic and racial disparities. Dr. Long assesses these issues in the context of chronic disease.  Recent research focuses on interventions to support behavioral change in low0income and vulnerable populations.

Currently, Dr. Long is the primary investigator (PI) on several studies. She recently finished a large pilot study and is conducting an R01 evaluating the effectiveness of peer mentoring and financial incentives to improve glucose control in African Americans with poorly controlled diabetes.  Both studies are randomized controlled trials (RCT).  Likewise, she is the PI of a RCT evaluating how best to create sustainable peer mentor models for the VA.  This study is being funded by the Philadelphia Patient Aligned Care Team Demo Lab and VA HSR&D. Most recently she received a PCORI grant to evaluate the effectiveness of using Community Health Workers (CHWs) to help low income patients with multiple chronic diseases improve their health.

Dr. Long is also actively engaged in the training of Health Services and Policy Researchers at Penn.  She is the Director of Penn's Master of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP), Co-Director of the Penn Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, and PI of Penn's NRSA Generalist Training Grant.

Raina Merchant

Dr. Raina Merchant is Co-Director of the RWJF Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and has a secondary appointment in the Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care. She is also the Director of the Penn Social Media and Health Innovation Lab and a senior fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. She attended Yale University for her undergraduate degree, University of Chicago for Medical School, and the University of Pennsylvania for an MSHP and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. She serves on several leadership committees within the American Heart Association and is the chair of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care-Science Subcommittee. Her research interest is in diffusion of innovation, social media, public health, and resuscitation science. Her work involves development and testing of health related mobile apps and she has conducted several projects evaluating health communication on social/mobile media sites like Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, Gigwalk, and others. She additionally runs a Twitter lab which analyzes tweets related to resuscitation, critical care, and public health/policy. Much of her work bridges new technologies in the field of cardiovascular health. In this context, she is the Director of the MyHeartMap Challenge, a social media and crowdsourcing project aimed at improving AED access and awareness by engaging the public to serve as citizen scientist. Dr. Merchant was recently recognized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of 10 young investigators likely to have a significant impact on the future of health and healthcare in the US.

Antonia M. Villarruel

Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN began her position as dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in the summer of 2014. The sixth dean of the school, she is only the second alumna to serve in this position and the first dean to serve who has prior and current NIH funding.

Internationally renowned for her leadership in research, policy, and practice, Dr. Villarruel became a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 1997 and was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2007.

Prior to becoming dean, Dr. Villarruel was a professor, the Nola J. Pender Collegiate Chair and the associate dean for research and global affairs at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. She also held a joint faculty appointment in the School of Public Health and was director of the school's World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Research and Clinical Training in Health Promotion Nursing. She led interdisciplinary and multi-school strategic planning processes to help the University of Michigan integrate the research, education, practice and global missions of the school, the health system and the university. Her efforts to support nursing faculty in developing research programs led to a steady increase in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Her leadership in the global arena led to an unprecedented number of students studying abroad as well as faculty who are actively collaborating abroad on key research and education initiatives.

Dr. Villarruel earned her MSN at Penn's School of Nursing and served as an assistant professor at the School from 1995 to 2000, and as an adjunct professor from 2005 to 2011. She has co-authored a number of papers with Penn faculty, led the 2012 ONR Colloquium on Health Promotion and Risk Reduction Practices in Latina Populations at the School, and created and led the School's study abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Julie Sochalski

Julie Sochalski, PhD, FAAN, RN is Co-Director of the NCSP at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sochalski is recognized as a national and international expert in health policy and the health care workforce. Her 3-year tenure at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2010-2013) as Director of the Division of Nursing and Principal Advisor for Health Workforce Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration involved directing interagency initiatives that promoted research and program innovations to build a right-sized, well-skilled, and effectively-deployed health care workforce. Prior to her recent federal position, Dr. Sochalski directed a series of national and international studies funded by NIH and other private and government foundations elucidating critical workforce factors influencing the quality of patient care and patient outcomes and innovative practice models that should be pursued to promote quality of care and population health. Her study featured in Health Affairs evaluated the outcomes of disease management interventions for heart failure patients by pooling data from 12 clinical trials conducted in four countries and explored payment policy options for the Medicare program to reimburse for these services. Her work has included examining the impact of innovative models of nursing care and nursing staffing on quality outcomes, and has demonstrated the cost-effective impact of nursing for diverse patient populations including high-risk high-cost chronically ill and terminally ill patients. In addition, she has investigated domestic and international trends in the health care workforce, workforce shortages, and migratory patterns of health workers and has collaborated internationally to develop policy recommendations for building an appropriately prepared and effectively deployed international health care workforce.

Traci Chupik

Traci Chupik, M.S.Ed. is the Administrative Director for the Penn Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program and the Masters of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP) program. Before joining the RWJF team, she worked in higher education administration and program management, both in Penn's Department of Psychiatry and Arcadia University's College of Global Studies. Traci has a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.S.Ed. in Intercultural Communication (ICC) from the University of Pennsylvania.