National Clinician Scholars Program

Advancing health through scholarship and action

Projects and Partners


Core to the program, Scholars work closely with community partners. Through their project-focused training they contribute to tackling the health challenges identified and endorsed by partners, many of whom are program funders, and other stakeholders as leading concerns at the community, state, national—and in some cases, global level. This process of addressing real-world, highly relevant problems in real time is the central mechanism of the Program training experience for the Scholars. Throughout the training experience, mentorship is provided for Scholars by teams that include Program faculty, community partners, and subject matter experts.

NCSP/VA Collaboration


The collaboration between the NCSP and the Department of Veterans Affairs builds upon a strong foundation: In 1978, the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA,) in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, established the VA Advanced Fellowships Program for Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Clinical Scholars at selected VA medical centers. The program was designed to introduce new skills and training in the non-biological sciences and in health care research to young physicians committed to clinical medicine. Graduates were expected to be role models in leading and developing solutions to meet the most pressing health issues of the day. The VA/Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program has become one of the premier fellowships for physicians interested in influencing health policy. The partnership between the VA and the NCSP will allow the next generation of physician and nursing leaders and change agents to understand and improve the health of veterans, and of the nation.

VA Advanced Fellowships Program for NCSP Clinician Scholars

The fellowship provides two years of post-residency research, education, and clinical learning opportunities to eligible physicians and nurses. Participants are expected to complete a graduate level research project using a broad array of disciplines. These may include epidemiology, biostatistics, medical information sciences, economics, the social sciences, anthropology, history of medicine, law, and ethics. The program emphasizes the importance of community health, consistent with VA's goals to optimize the health of the veteran, the VA community, and to contribute to the health of the Nation. VA NCSP Clinician Scholars participate in activities at their designated VA Medical Center as well as participate fully in the overall NCSP program at the affiliated institution. Experienced mentors of national stature provide guidance to fellows in rich learning environments.

VA Advanced Fellowships Office

Stuart Gilman, MD, MPH
Director, Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development
NCSP National Program Board (NPB) Member and VA Liaison

Jeff Cully, PhD
Assistant Director, Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development

Deborah Ludke, MHA
Administrative Officer, Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development

Kimberly Uhl, MBA
Management Analyst, Advanced Fellowships and Professional Development

University Faculty VA Liaisons

The National Clinician Scholars Program has a VA faculty representative at each of the four participating universities where Scholars are trained.


Michele Heisler, MD, MPH
Co-director, Michigan NCSP
Associate Professor of Medicine and Health Behavior and Health Education
Research Scientist, VA HSR&D Center of Excellence


Rani Desai, PhD, MPH
Co-director, Yale NCSP
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology
Associate Director, Northeast Program Evaluation Center


Marilyn Schapira, MD, MPH
Associate Director, Penn NCSP
Associate Professor of Medicine at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center
Co-Leader, Cancer Control Research Program, Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania


Debra Saliba, MD, MPH
Anna & Harry Borun Endowed Chair
UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Director, UCLA Borun Center for Applied Gerontological Research
Physician, VA GRECC
Senior Natural Scientist, RAND

Local Partners

We aim to identify Scholars who want to work on projects and activities that are consistent with the priorities of local partners who support the program. Scholars partner closely with established community partners to increase likelihood of making real change during the time of the fellowship. This program is designed for people to work in teams and positions are negotiated at the time of selection based on partners' priority areas.

At UCLA, partnerships include the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, UCLA School of Nursing, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Public Health, and Mental Health, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Cedar Sinai Health System, Charles R. Drew University, Healthy African American Families, Venice Family Clinic, Behavioral Health Services, MLK Community Hospital, Los Angeles Unified School District, among others.

At University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, partnerships include the University of Michigan Health System, Medical and Nursing Schools, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and VISN 11, the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, The Detroit Community-Academic Research Center, the Michigan State Department of Health and Human Services, and Global Reach.

At University of Pennsylvania, partnerships include the Perelman School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and a consortium of greater Philadelphia community organizations.

At Yale University, partnerships include the Yale School of Medicine, the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Yale School of Nursing, Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH), YNHH-Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE), the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, Columbus House, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), Project Access New Haven, and New Haven Family Alliance, among others.

The Program's array of strong partnerships with communities, local and state government, and health systems continues to thrive and support the work of our Scholars. These partnerships have been essential to the rigorous and relevant training of Scholars and continue as central keys to programmatic success in the future.

Mentorship will be provided by partners as well as faculty at each institution. Program sites will maintain enabling structures for the facilitation of mentor-mentee relationships. Not only will Scholars have access to mentors at their local program but more so than before, Program sites commit to helping each other and working together to help all our Scholars achieve their best through cross-site mentorship, learning new skills, and making an impact in the local communities in real time.