Department of Medicine

General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics

Advanced Scholarship Program for Internists in Research and Education

"I gained knowledge from the best in the field, a tribe to count on and overcame the fear of academic medicine." ~ ASPIRE Scholar

The Department of Medicine and the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics recruit up to eight junior to mid-level career faculty members to participate in the Advanced Scholars Program for Internists in Research and Education (ASPIRE) Program. Six faculty from the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and two faculty from other divisions within the Department are selected for this 18 month long program. ASPIRE is designed to foster professional development in a close-knit community of colleagues, secure regional or national recognition in a chosen area of scholarship and support career goals such as academic promotion. The program provides salary support, mentoring and skills training to enable each scholar to develop and implement scholarly work in their area of interest.

ASPIRE scholars receive .20 FTE salary support for a period of one year to implement their projects and .10 FTE support for an additional six months (a “run in” period of three months prior to implementing their project and a three month “close out” period for writing up final project results with expert coaching). In addition, each scholar has the opportunity to work closely with a nationally recognized faculty mentor from the school of medicine, IUPUI, the VA or Regenstrief Institute. Each mentor has .10 FTE covered time dedicated to work with their ASPIRE scholar.

With support from ASPIRE, the first cohort of six scholars have presented their work at local and national meetings, published manuscripts, developed and deployed education programs for IUSM faculty members, and written essays describing their experiences of practicing medicine. In short, they have taken the necessary steps toward fulfilling their career goals. In the words of one scholar:

"As a busy clinician educator, I have always had the interest but not the time or skills to actually realize scholarship goals that are so critical for a successful career in academic medicine…. ASPIRE has been everything I had hoped it would be."

Learn more about the ASPIRE scholars on the scholars page.

Benefits of ASPIRE

  • Become a member of a select community of interest
  • Work with a senior mentor invested in your success
  • Receive funding to support your scholarly work
  • Present your work at regional and national meetings


  • Faculty in the Department of Medicine, including general internists, hospitalists and others
  • On the clinical/educator, clinical or other non-research track
  • Assistant Professor rank
  • Interested in developing an area of scholarship

All faculty who meet these criteria are encouraged to apply. Special consideration will be given to those who have worked in the Department at least half time for two years or more.

How to apply

  • Information sessions will be held in early 2019, please contact Donna Burgett for more information.
  • Attach a letter of support from your supervisor, division chief or chair that acknowledges the 12 month 0.2 FTE and 6 month 0.1 FTE time commitment for the program and includes an assurance of your being able to return to full or part time clinical work following the program
  • Submit a letter of interest describing how participation in the ASPIRE program fits your career goals and what you hope to achieve from participating in the program 
  • Submit a paragraph length description of a scholarly project you intend to develop through the ASPIRE program

ASPIRE Leadership

Richard Frankel

Dr. Frankel is a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine where he directs the ASPIRE (Advanced Scholars Program for Internists in Research and Education) program. He is also a senior scientist at the VA Center for Healthcare Information and Communication (CHIC), and at the Regenstrief Institute.

Rich is trained as a qualitative researcher whose interests include face-to-face communication, the role of technology and its effects on quality, safety, and outcomes of care. In addition to his research interests, he has been a medical educator for the past 35 years. He was the co- director of the internal medicine residency program at Highland Hospital/University of Rochester and also served as co-director of the Program and Fellowship in Advanced Biopsychosocial Medicine. From 2003-2013, he was the statewide director of Indiana University School of Medicine’s professionalism competency and responsible for both curriculum and remediation in this arena. To date, he has published more than 250 scientific papers and edited 7 books.

Rich completed his undergraduate studies at Colgate University and obtained a PhD in sociology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. He completed postdoctoral training at Boston University and was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Uppsala, Sweden. He is also a founding Fellow of the Academy for Communication in Healthcare.


Ann Cottingham

Ann Cottingham is Director of Research in Health Professions Education and Practice with the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine where she co-directs the ASPIRE (Advanced Scholars Program for Internists in Research and Education) program.

Ann is a health services researcher with a focus on spiritual, religious and psychological dimensions of illness and care, the role of community organizations in enhancing health, and health care team communication. She is currently leading a study to enhance understanding of the role of faith and faith leaders in patient coping and healthcare decision making. Ann also co-directs a study examining the impact of chaplain support for clinic staff on staff well-being and work engagement and a second study exploring the impact of a chaplaincy home care intervention on the spiritual well-being of patients with ALS and their caregivers. Ann helped lead the development of the Indiana University School of Medicine competency curriculum 2002-2011 and with funding from two NIH grants created, implemented and assessed multiple educational interventions to enhance provider teaching and modeling of the IUSM competencies.

Ann completed her undergraduate work at Duke University. She completed a Masters in Religion at Yale University and a Masters in Theology and Ethics at the University of Notre Dame.


Sylk Sotto

Dr. Sotto is an Assistant Professor and serves as the Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs and Diversity in the Department of Medicine. Her scholarship and research centers on (in)equity in higher education and academic medicine.  In addition, Dr. Sotto interests include faculty affairs and professional development, equity, inclusion and diversity, STEM and medical education, and leadership & administration. She also brings years of experience in higher education finance and administration, research administration, compliance, and ethics.

Dr. Sotto holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Colorado State University, a Masters in Business Administration; a Masters in Healthcare Leadership with a concentration in Health Policy, Law and Ethics; and a Doctorate in Higher Education from the University of Denver. Her dissertation focused on the experiences of underrepresented faculty in academic medicine, specifically in regards to socialization, mentoring, and professional development.


Greg Sachs

Greg A. Sachs, MD, FACP, a graduate of Yale University School of Medicine and residency and fellowship training at the University of Chicago, came to Indiana in 2007 to become the Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, and Professor of Medicine and Neurology at Indiana University School of Medicine.  Dr. Sachs also serves as a Research Scientist in the IU Center for Aging Research and the Regenstrief Institute. Dr. Sachs also co-directos IUPUI’s Research in Palliative and End-of-life Communication and Training (RESPECT) Center. 

Dr. Sachs’s research and writing focus on ethical issues in dementia care, including palliative care for people with dementia.  Dr. Sachs has been the recipient of grants from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the leading foundations funding research in geriatrics, ethics, or palliative care.  He has published over 110 articles in peer-reviewed journals, with one of his most notable papers being, “Dying from Dementia,” which appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine. 

Dr. Sachs has received the Outstanding Scientific Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award from the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and was a Medical Honoree of the national Alzheimer’s Association. He has taken on leadership roles in several organizations, including serving on the National Board of Directors of AGS, the editorial board of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, and chairing both the Academic Task Force and Leadership and Workforce Strategic Coordinating Committee for the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 

Board certified in internal medicine, geriatrics, and palliative care, Dr. Sachs has also been named a “Top Doctor” by Indianapolis Monthly on several occasions, having previously been named a “Top Doctor” in Chicago.  Dr. Sachs especially enjoys mentoring of academic trainees and junior faculty and is proud to be one of the architects of the ASPIRE Program.  Amongst his former mentees, Dr. Sachs counts some 10 career development grant awardees and 2 current division chiefs and a department chair.