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UT-FOCUS provides support to retain physician-scientists

Susan Hedayati, M.D., M.H.S.

Five early career physician-researchers are the first awardees to receive support from the UT Southwestern Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists (UT-FOCUS) program.

Holly G. Crawford
The UT-FOCUS program combines support, wellness, and career development resources for UTSW physician-scientists.

The UT-FOCUS program provides financial, career development, and wellness support to retain early career physician-scientists who need additional assistance due to caregiving responsibilities exacerbated by COVID-19, according to the program’s Director, Susan Hedayati, M.D., M.H.S., Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Associate Vice Chair for Research.

UT Southwestern is one of only a few institutions nationwide to be selected for the award. The program is funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the American Heart Association, and support from the UT Southwestern Dean’s Office.

“I am so delighted to say that this is the first such program funded at our institution, and now we are among only a handful of academic institutions nationwide with this award from the American Heart Association,” Dr. Hedayati said. “As both a clinician and researcher, I have observed firsthand the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on our clinical and research faculty, not only on the hospital COVID front lines, but also at home with additional caregiving responsibilities inflicted by the pandemic. We are so fortunate to be able to somehow contribute some support to faculty who diligently continue our institutional missions of research and patient care.”

The first recipients are Emily Adhikari, M.D., Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology; Andrew Day, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery; Jenny Francis, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor, Pediatrics; Kara Goss, M.D., Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics; and Rachel Leon, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Pediatrics.

Each awardee gets $50,000 in supplemental flexible funds. Additionally, they receive access to a personal wellness coach for support specific to caregiving responsibilities; networking opportunities and group coaching around work-life balance; and additional resources to support their research programs. The wellness program is organized by Dr. Susan Matulevicius, M.D., program co-Director, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, and Assistant Dean of Faculty Wellness.

Since the program is designed to support academic faculty facing caregiving challenges, funding is flexible and can be used to pay for extra research support, salaries, services, and other needs. Biostatistical services, database development, phlebotomy, and human sample processing and storage are examples of resources and services covered.

To be eligible, program applicants must be physician-scientists with an M.D., M.D./Ph.D., or equivalent degree who are full-time Instructors, Assistant Professors, or Associate Professors at a rank of one year or less with at least 50% effort allocated to research with a high potential to improve human health. The next round of applications opens in June.

For more information on eligibility and to apply.

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