Breitman-Dorn Research Fellowship

The Breitman-Dorn Endowed Research Fellowship was established in 1998 through a generous donation from Jerald A. Breitman in memory of his partner Stephen Dorn. The endowment encourages a commitment to research on the PA profession and provides financial assistance to doctoral candidates who are making a contribution to research on the influence of PAs on medical care.

The Breitman-Dorn Endowed Research Fellowship is a cash award, not a grant. It is not a requirement that the recipient use the money to offset doctoral expenses. The award amount will be $4,000 for the 2021 cycle.

Applicant Requirements:

  • The applicant’s research must address the role or contributions of PAs in health care; i.e., the research must focus on PA issues and benefit PAs and/or the PA profession. It is not a requirement that the research must focus exclusively on PAs or the PA profession.
  • It is not a requirement that the applicant must be a PA. Doctoral candidates from any discipline are welcome to submit an application.
  • Applicants must be enrolled in a graduate program and working toward a doctoral degree.
  • Applicants must have an approved doctoral dissertation proposal topic.
  • Applicants must be in good academic standing.

Fellowship Recipient Requirements:

  • The recipient must complete his or her dissertation within three years of the award.
  • The recipient must provide a copy of the completed dissertation to the PA Foundation.
  • The PA Foundation should be notified of any address changes.

View the 2021 Breitman-Dorn Fellowship requirements document.

2021 Application Cycle (NOW CLOSED)

Opens: July 12
Deadline: August 13

Read our 20th Anniversary Report

Recent Recipients

2021 – Morgan Luck

Morgan Luck, MS, PA-C, began practicing clinically as a PA in 2001. She recently marked her fifth year as a PA educator and currently serves as an associate professor in the Shenandoah University Division of Physician Assistant Studies in Leesburg, Virginia. She is dedicated to research that supports advocacy for PA candidates and students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Her additional research interests include topics of curricular innovation. Morgan is currently in the dissertation phase of her Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree at Shenandoah University. Her dissertation is entitled “From Demographics to Designations: Predicting Minority Applicant Progress through the CASPA Pipeline.” This study focuses on PA graduate education candidates from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and examines attrition, barriers, and supports for these candidates in the application process.

2020 – Daytheon Sturges

Daytheon Sturges, MPAS, PA-C, CAHIMS, CHES, has been a PA since 2008 and a PA educator since 2013. He is an assistant professor at the University of Washington – MEDEX Northwest PA program, also serving as the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion chair for the Department of Family Medicine, while maintaining clinical practice in family medicine within the UW system. His passion is providing care to underserved populations. He serves as the chair of PAEA’s Diversity and Inclusion Mission Advancement Commission, as a Faculty Skills 101 Workshop facilitator, and as the Cultural Perspectives editor for the Journal of Physician Assistant Education. He is currently embarking upon the dissertation phase for the Ph.D. degree in health studies at Texas Woman’s University, where he also completed a post-master’s certificate in interprofessional informatics. His dissertation is studying perceived burnout in underrepresented minority PA educators in the United States in order to inform future health interventions.

2019 – Richard Bottner

Richard Bottner, PA-C, is a PA in the Division of Hospital Medicine at Dell Seton Medical Center (DSMC) at the University of Texas at Austin, where he leads several quality- and process-improvement projects. He is also an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Internal Medicine at Dell Medical School at UT-Austin. He is pursuing a Doctor of Health Administration degree at the Medical University of South Carolina, with a research focus on hospital-based treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). His dissertation is entitled “Identification of Successful Components and Barriers of an In-Hospital Buprenorphine Program.” The objective of the study is to describe the experience of how a single 220-bed academic hospital in central Texas implemented a buprenorphine therapy program during hospitalization and sought to overcome the barriers of adoption. While pieces of programs have been described in the literature, there is a dearth of information about how hospitals can build and implement the process – especially in institutions which do not have addiction medicine consultation services. Sharing how one hospital is accomplishing the goal of treating Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and reducing stigma may present a more scalable model.

Headshot for Richard Bottner

2018 – Bettie Coplan

Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C, is an associate clinical professor in the department of PA studies at Northern Arizona University’s College of Health and Human Services. She is pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD in nursing and health innovation at Arizona State University. Coplan’s dissertation is entitled “How PA Programs Successfully Promote Diversity in Admissions.” The purpose of the study is to explore organizational characteristics reflected in holistic review practices that lead to diverse student enrollment. Questions that will be addressed include: 1) What specific admissions processes do programs that enroll high proportions of underrepresented minority (URM) students use (e.g. for screening of applicants)? and 2) What attributes of organizational culture support these processes? The study utilizes a qualitative design and multiple case study methodology to examine the admissions processes at PA programs with high URM enrollment (when accounting for regional population demographics). Results will be used to create recommendations and intervention strategies to facilitate effective use of holistic review in PA program admissions. The overall goal is to make a substantive contribution to the profession’s efforts to promote a diverse workforce.

Bettie Coplan headshot

2017 – Tamara Ritsema

Tamara Ritsema, MPH, MMSc, PA-C/R, is a PhD student in the medical sciences interdisciplinary program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and an assistant professor of PA studies at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She is completing a dissertation entitled “Barriers and Facilitating Factors in the Integration of the First UK-trained Physician Associates into Secondary Care Services in the British National Health Service.” One purpose of the study, which utilizes a grounded theory qualitative approach, is to assist medical teams incorporating PAs for the first time to anticipate and address issues that commonly arise with the introduction of this new role onto the team. PAs who are beginning practice in secondary care may also benefit from better understanding the experiences of other PAs who have established the PA role in a new clinical setting. The results are particularly timely, as the UK will soon see a substantial increase in the number of PAs entering practice. An improved understanding of the process of implementing PAs into secondary care may also allow educators to more effectively train PAs to work in secondary care settings in the National Health Service (NHS). Finally, results from this study may assist health workforce planners in other developed countries evaluate the potential of the PA role for their health systems.

2016 – Virginia Valentin

Virginia Valentin, MCMS, PA-C, is director of didactic education and assistant professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Division of PA Studies. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Public Health Epidemiology at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health (expected graduation May 2017). Her dissertation is entitled “Malignant Melanoma: An Analysis of the Individual and Social Factors on Stage of Disease and Treatment in Kentucky.” The purpose of the study is to understand the variables leading to the increase in melanoma incidence and mortality in Kentucky. Valentin hypothesizes that there may be factors related to melanoma rates that are distinctive to Kentucky, as the Commonwealth has a higher proportion of the population which is generally impoverished, rural, and medically underserved compared to other states. In addition, other studies have shown that the disease stage and treatment of melanoma is influenced by a wide range of individual and social factors, including age, gender, race, SES, access to healthcare, etc. The proposed research will be a retrospective population-based study utilizing individual level variables from the Kentucky Cancer Registry (KCR) and community level variables from the United States Census Bureau.

Past Recipients

2013 – Alison Essary

2012 – Karen Graham



2011 – Christine Everett


2010 – James Carlson



2009 – Carol Biscardi


2008 – Jennifer Coombs


2007 – Justine Strand de Oliveira


2006 – Rosann Ippolito


2005 – Perri Morgan


2004 – Dawn LaBarbera


2002 – Randy Danielsen


2001 – Lisa Alexander


1999 – Roderick Hooker


Questions? Please contact Caroline Pierce.