Michael Fine, MD, MSc
Michael Fine, MD, MSc, is the recipient of the 2018 HSR&D Daniel Deykin Award for Outstanding Mentor, which is presented each year to an HSR&D researcher(s) who exhibits outstanding dedication in mentoring the next generation of researchers. Skills of particular importance include fostering appreciation for the vital input provided by VA stakeholders, including VA policymakers and Veterans, as well as guiding mentees toward a thorough understanding of the positive impact research can have on the health and care of Veterans.
Co-Director of HSR&D’s Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP), Dr. Fine has advised and/or trained 68 mentees within the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and/or its academic affiliate, the University of Pittsburgh. These mentees include two former HSR&D Career Development Awardees – Drs. Walid Gellad and Steven Weisbord, who now lead independent research programs that have improved the health and care of Veterans. Dr. Gellad offers glowing praise for his “model mentor” – “the real-life version of the idealized mentor we all read about and hear about as we begin our careers in health services research.” Dr. Gellad also notes that a key to his success as an investigator “has been the way Michael impressed upon me the importance of ensuring that my work has direct relevance to the VA healthcare system and Veterans.” Dr. Weisbord was “immediately struck by the sincere interest he [Dr. Fine] took in me both as a young physician attempting to navigate the challenging transition from trainee to junior attending – and as an aspiring investigator with no practical experience or formal research training. Since that time and over the past 15 years, Michael has been my primary mentor and driving force behind my professional development and success.”
A cornerstone of Dr. Fine’s mentorship involves the cultivation of scholarship through scientific publication. Using scientific writing as a powerful tool to develop his mentees’ methodological, analytical, and critical thinking skills, to date, he has published 198 peer-reviewed papers, review articles, or commentaries with 63 of his mentees; his mentees served as first author for 159 (80%) of these articles. Impressively, 10 of his mentees have published 13 high-impact, first author papers in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Lancet, and Annals of Internal Medicine, expanding the depth and breadth of these mentored research accomplishments.
Though more difficult to quantify than the traditional products of mentoring (e.g., papers, grants), Dr. Fine’s esteem as a mentor also stems from his personal qualities and actions. He dedicates substantial time and personal interest to the success of his mentees. He facilitates their professional collaborations and partnerships, advocates for new responsibilities and leadership roles, and identifies new professional opportunities, while emphasizing the importance of work-life balance. Moreover, he effectively role models the professional behaviors of a successful clinician-investigator and mentor. Dr. Fine has been a consummate mentor and role model for over a generation of health services research investigators that represent diverse medical professionals across all phases of career development. Both Dr. Fine’s and his mentees’ success is magnified by the impact their scholarship has had in shaping health services research, patient care, and healthcare policy.
HSR&D thanks Dr. Fine for his continuing contributions to improving the health and care of our Veterans, particularly through his outstanding mentorship.
HSR&D also thanks the following Daniel Deykin Outstanding Mentor of the Year Nominees for their generous support of health services researchers.