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HHRI’s new Director of Training and Mentoring Dr. Sandra Japuntich sets goals to help junior research faculty succeed

Dr Sandra Japuntich

Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute (HHRI) has always prided itself on being a teaching and mentoring organization, but is now shifting to a more codified and streamlined approach through the newly created Director of Training and Mentoring role. Tobacco dependence researcher, Sandra Japuntich, PhD, LP, will be spearheading this new position.

Dr. Japuntich will be training and mentoring junior faculty (MD and PhD) and mid-career investigators in navigating the early steps of their careers with her recent appointment as HHRI’s Director of Training and Mentoring. She aspires to use a person-centered approach by being a unique blend of sponsor and mentor in this role. To Japuntich, it’s all about gathering information to connect the right people to the right resources, connections, and opportunities.

Throughout her career journey, Dr. Japuntich has learned a lot from being a mentee and mentor in the world of academia and hopes to share what she has learned. Over time, she’s worn many hats, including being a psychology and health teacher, mentoring trainees, participating in training programs, and training with several prominent mentors to develop her unique mentorship style. Her training included an apprenticeship-based model where the student starts as the mentee and later becomes the mentor. It also included a very useful skill in academia, assisting with writing grant proposals.

Overall, Dr. Japuntich is very excited about this opportunity and the ability to create change for junior faculty. Her short-term goals in collaboration with HHRI Interim President Kirsten Johansen, MD, for the first year in the program include three main foci:

  • Conducting a needs assessment of postdocs and junior faculty regarding training and mentoring.
  • Increasing engagement in the University of Minnesota (U of M) mentoring and training programs for HHRI Faculty and Trainees.
  • Starting a grant writing group at HHRI.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Japuntich to her new role!

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