Skip Over Navigation Links

Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH)

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH)

FY 2007 Program Abstracts

The 15 Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) programs awarded in 2007 will continue continued through 2011. Detailed BIRCWH 2007 program descriptions are provided by state. For additional information, contact the principal investigator or visit the individual BIRCWH program web sites.


Institution: University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
Principal Investigator: Judy Regensteiner, Ph.D.

The broad objective of the BIRCWH program at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center (UCDHSC) is to develop and increase the pool of highly qualified young scientists and clinician–investigators pursuing independent interdisciplinary scientific careers in women’s health. The BIRCWH grant at UCDHSC focuses on three interrelated areas affecting women’s health across the lifespan, from preconception to aging. These areas are (1) pregnancy, fetal programming, and lactation; (2) aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity; and (3) women’s cancers. These are fields in which the UCDHSC has strong interdisciplinary research programs, extending from molecular research into the basic mechanisms of disease through clinical studies to epidemiological analyses of etiology and outcomes. External Web Site Policy


Northwestern University
Principal Investigator: Andrea Dunaif, M.D.

The a BIRCWH Program at Northwestern University will be used to develop a group of independent, tenure track scientists with backgrounds in clinical medicine or basic science disciplines whose research will address high priority areas relevant to women's health. We have identified five focus areas that have been historically strong within Northwestern and that are fundamental to the understanding and treatment of women's health and disease — differences in cardiovascular disease risk; ovarian biology; obstetrical and gynecological disorders; sex differences in sleep and rheumatology and osteoporosis. In order to develop expertise outside the Ob/Gyn specialty, faculty members who have interdisciplinary training in basic reproductive science and gender-specific disease research must be cultivated. Northwestern has a longstanding and rich tradition of interdisciplinary excellence in the reproductive sciences and in disorders that affect women. For more information on the NU BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy

Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago
Principal Investigator: Stacie Geller, Ph.D.

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) BIRCWH program is a collaborative effort between the UIC’s National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health (CoE) and its six health colleges, including the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Applied Health Sciences; and the School of Public Health. The UIC BIRCWH program will contribute substantially to the development of a diverse multidisciplinary basic science, clinical, and community research work force through the interdisciplinary training, mentorship, and career development of junior investigators. These investigators will accelerate the translation of research findings into evidence-based policies and practices that improve the health of women and girls in the United States. A diverse group of scholars is selected who focus on research in one of five areas in which UIC has particular strengths: (1) reproductive health, (2) midlife and aging, (3) cancer in women, (4) heart disease in women, and (5) underserved populations. These areas encompass health and illness issues that are unique to women, more prevalent in women, or different in women than in men. Health disparities are an underlying theme in much of the research on women’s health, regardless of level of analysis, reflecting the diverse urban environment in which UIC is situated. UIC’s conceptual approach to women’s health and to research about women’s health is to view women’s health in terms of life stages and on a continuum. Work in women’s health ranges from the molecular and cellular level to the community level; these levels are interrelated. For more information on the UIC BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy


Tulane University
Principal Investigator: Marie Krousel-Wood, M.D., M.S. P.H.

The Tulane BIRCWH program is dedicated to promoting research and the transfer of findings to promote Women's Health by promoting research independence among junior researchers. In order to improve the quality and increase the quantity of Women's Health research, Tulane BIRCWH proposes to bridge the period between advanced training and research independence, as well as link professions, scientific disciplines, and areas of interest for selected scholars. The common theme running through out the various research areas is interdisciplinary research on cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and renal disease. The long-term objectives of the Tulane BIRCWH Program are to increase the number of skilled, independent interdisciplinary investigators with a focus on sex, gender and Women's Health research; promote, through the BIRCWH Program's illustration, the awareness of the need to ensure a strong pipeline when fostering independent researchers and the advantage of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary clinical and translational research efforts; promote collaborations with traditionally non-research focused entities; establish institutional and individual renown both nationally and internationally for the BIRCWH Program's findings on CVD and Women's Health and improve the cardiovascular health of Louisiana women across the lifespan, particularly African American women, by effectively training the next generation of conscientious, culturally competent and independent academic Women's Health researchers. For more information on the Tulane BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy


University of Maryland, Baltimore
Principal Investigator: Patricia Langenberg, Ph.D.

The BIRCWH program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (U MB) is designed to foster interdisciplinary research in women’s health among junior faculty. UMB BIRCWH has refined and adapted our current program to provide scholars with in-depth career development training in three focused and interactive research theme: (1) women’s health and the brain; (2) the aging woman; and (3) conditions specific to women. These themes build on existing strengths in research at UMB and are fertile ground for interdisciplinary basic science, translational, behavioral, clinical, epidemiological, and/ or health services research. They are an extension of the research themes offered by our current program, allowing many of those mentors from the current program to participate, and allowing former scholars the opportunities to serve on mentor teams as coaches, providing a support network for new scholars. Our former and current scholars all have benefited immensely from our rich research environment and frequently cite the interdisciplinary nature of their training experience as an extraordinary advantage to their research. For more information on the UMB BIRCWH program: External Web Site Policy


Boston University Medical Center
Principal Investigator: Karen Freund, M.D., M.P.H.

The Boston University (BU) BIRCWH has demonstrated the ability to expand women’s health research and the number of excellent investigators in women’s health. The BU BIRCWH builds upon the strengths of our existing program to recruit, select, and train junior faculty in conducting clinical and health services research on women’s health issues. The focus of research training and research will be addressing the needs of underserved, minority, and elderly women. The BU BIRCWH trains selected clinician investigators in health services research, clinical research, and clinical epidemiology to address a focus of important questions in the care of women. For more information on the BU BIRCWH program, visit External Web Site Policy


University of Minnesota,Twin Cities
Principal Investigator: Nancy Raymond, M.D.

Three aspects of the University of Minnesota make it a unique environment for a BIRCWH program: (1) Based on substantial empirical research by one of our faculty members, we have developed a comprehensive model of mentoring that systematizes the interdisciplinary mentoring process. (2) Across our six health science schools and other health-related departments, we have an extremely diverse institution. This diversity of disciplines reveals itself in our mentors, our course offerings, and the scholars themselves. Few universities can offer such a wide range of career development opportunities. (3) The University of Minnesota is a leader in women’s health. Based on the work of the Deborah E. Powell Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, we have a strategic plan related to women’s health research, the goals of which are to (1) build academic capacity; (2) increase interdisciplinary collaboration; (3) increase funding opportunities; and (4) increase the visibility of women’s health research. For more information about the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy

North Carolina

Duke University
Principal Investigator: Eugene Z. Oddone, M.D.
E-mail Address:

The Duke/North Carolina Central University (NCCU) BIRCWH program is designed to develop highly skilled researchers investigating women’s health issues, with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary scholarship. The theme for the Duke/ NCCU program is women’s health across the lifespan, including maternal consequences of childbearing conditions that affect women, and health care use and disparities. The collaboration between Duke and NCCU, a Historically Black University, will strengthen our goal of training minority scholars. The Duke/NCCU BIRCWH program is relevant to public health because it trains researchers whose work will lead to improved treatments for a wide range of conditions affecting women. For more information on the Duke/NCCU BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy


Oregon Health & Science University
Principal Investigator: Jeanne-Marie Guise, M.D., M.P. H.
Email Address:

The goal of the Oregon BIRCWH program is to create a stimulating and nurturing environment for junior faculty to develop into leading physician-scientists in women’s health. Our program recognizes that research can modify the course of disease at one point in a woman’s lifespan, which will affect the rest of lifelong development and aging. The mix of career paths and backgrounds is integral to increasing collaboration and invigorating research in women’s health across the lifespan. The extensive intellectual and research resources at the Oregon Health & Science University are available and committed to developing BIRCWH scholars. Integration is interdepartmental and is center driven to enhance collaborations between scientists and trainees in the Center for Women’s Health, the Heart Research Center, the Primate Research Center, the Cancer Institute, and the Center for Gender Biology and Medicine. Sophisticated research core laboratories specializing in molecular biology, cell culture, DNA analysis, imaging, statistics, assisted reproductive techniques, endocrine assays, laboratory animals, transgenic and molecular genetics cores, among others, are established and available to the BIRCWH scholars. Advanced training in designing clinical studies and statistical evaluation for clinician scientists will be coordinated through the highly successful Human Investigations Program. Writing skills are enhanced through structured workshops. For more information on the Oregon Health & Science University BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy


Pennsylvania State University
Principal Investigator: Carol Weisman, Ph.D.
Email Address:

The expanding research agenda in women’s health is informed by multiple scientific disciplines, including the biological, physical, and social sciences. Research integrating knowledge from multiple perspectives is needed to advance the field of women’s health and to improve women’s health and health services. The interdisciplinary research conducted by BIRCWH scholars may be basic, translational, behavioral, clinical, and/or health services research relevant to women’s health or to sex/gender factors related to health. At Penn State, 21 senior faculty mentors have been identified in four core research areas: (1) precursors and consequences of obesity; (2) reproductive health; (3) sex and gender issues in health and disease; and (4) cancer prevention, screening, and treatment. For more information on the PSU BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy

Magee-Women’s Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Principal Investigator: James M. Roberts, M.D.
E-mail Address:

The BIRCWH program at the University of Pittsburgh seeks to improve and expand women’s healthresearch at the University of Pittsburgh. The program providesexcellent interdisciplinary research training in women’s health to as many beginninginvestigators as possible. Scholars funded by the program are encouraged to obtain alternativeK funding and, when successful, to continue to participate in the BIRCWH careerdevelopment program. The program has publicized the availability of components of theBIRCWH program to other beginning investigators. In addition, we have recruited manyof the research leaders of the University of Pittsburgh to become actively involved in theprogram through membership in the Advisory Committee. The training program emphasizesinterdisciplinary research, and exposure to this strategy is provided through projects and alsoby selecting a group of scholars with diverse research interests and approaches, and encouraging their interaction. For more information on the University of Pittsburgh BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy

South Carolina

Medical University of South Carolina
Principal Investigator: Kathleen Brady, M.D., Ph.D.

The overall objective of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) BIRCWH program is to promote the performance of research in women’s health. The Interdisciplinary Women’s Health Research program at MUSC will encourage interdisciplinary study of differences between women and men that impact the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease in two major focus areas—aging and mental health. The convergence at MUSC of substantial expertise in these two critical areas assures our ability to mentor junior faculty to study women’s health issues across the lifespan. Our faculty mentors have a broad skills basis in both aging and mental health, especially pertaining to dementia, substance use disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. In addition, we have specific expertise in the study of gender differences in pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacogenomics. For more information about the MUSC BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy


Institution: Vanderbilt University
Principal Investigator: Nancy Brown, M.D.

The Vanderbilt BIRCWH program has supported the career development of scholars engaged in basic, translational, and epidemiological women’s health research in collaboration with investigators from among 15 departments or centers within Vanderbilt, Meharry Medical College, and other institutions. The BIRCWH has served as a catalyst for recruitment and growth in the area of women’s health research at Vanderbilt and for collaboration between Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical College. The BIRCWH program will continue to focus on developing outstanding investigators in six major areas of women’s health research: cardiovascular risk and gender, clinical pharmacology and vaccine development, disparities and health outcomes, endometrial biology and reproductive toxicology, neoplasia and cancer, and neuroscience and behavioral health. We strive to create a new generation of creative, successful leaders in scientific areas that will improve the health of women. For more information about the Vanderbilt BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy


Virginia Commonwealth University
Principal Investigator: Jerome Strauss, M.D., Ph.D.

The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) BIRCWH program enjoys superb leadership from its PI (School of Medicine dean) and its program codirectors, both highly successful female faculty (one basic scientist, one physician-scientist). The BIRCWH program intersects with several interdisciplinary matrix organizations, such as the Institute for Women’s Health National Center of Excellence, Center for Health Disparities, and Center for Translational and Clinical Science. VCU BIRCWH scholars have the opportunity to investigate the pathogenesis and develop preventive and therapeutic interventions for preeclampsia, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), perinatal depression, preterm birth, low birthweight, vaginal bacteriosis, breast and ovarian cancer, and substance abuse. Scholars learn innovative methods of conducting community-based health research, statistical analyses focused on distinguishing sex and gender differences in data, and culturally competent research methodology. Scholars are required to integrate training experiences in clinical and laboratory settings and community outreach. For more information on the VCU BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy


University of Wisconsin–Madison
Principal Investigator: Gloria Sarto, M.D., Ph.D.

The goals of the BIRCWH Program at the University of Wisconsin (UW) are (1) to increase the diversity of academic leaders in the field of women’s health and (2) to promote interdisciplinary research that addresses disparities in health status and health outcomes among diverse populations of women. We will accomplish these goals by selecting diverse and talented applicants and providing them with dual scientific mentorship with established investigators in both biomedical and behavioral/social sciences; a rigorous 2- to 3-year didactic curriculum (biostatistics and study design, ethics, leadership/management, presentation and teaching, and scientific writing); and individual guidance in a safe environment that values cultural diversity. We believe that the integration of biomedical sciences, public health sciences, and sociocultural and behavioral sciences is prerequisite to addressing the linkages of macro-societal levels of being with pathogenesis of disease, so important in addressing health disparities. Thus, the UW BIRCWH provides interdisciplinary and multifaceted opportunities for research that include not only biomedical and behavioral sciences, but also investigation into quality of care, cost, access, and satisfaction with services; causes of and barriers to reducing health disparities; social context; and identification of assessment measures for outcomes. To address not only the broad array of research areas outlined above, but also the interdisciplinary nature of the possible candidates, the faculty is interdisciplinary and consists of physician-scientists, perinatal researchers, sociologists, nurse-scientists, nutritional scientists, epidemiologists, and economists. The outstanding research mentors selected for the BIRCWH are enthusiastic about the opportunity to mentor more advanced scholars through the BIRCWH. For more information about the UW BIRCWH program, visit: External Web Site Policy

Additional Information

For more information about ORWH Interdisciplinary Initiatives, contact Joan D. Nagel, M.D., M.P.H., Program Director, Interdisciplinary Research Programs; Director, BIRCWH Program; Coordinator, SCOR;

This page last reviewed on May 13, 2013

Social Media Links