Created by the Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) in partnership with NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices (ICO), the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH, pronounced "birch") is a mentored career-development program designed to connect junior faculty, known as BIRCWH Scholars, to senior faculty with shared interest in women's health and sex differences research. Since the program was created in 2000, more than 750 junior faculty have been part of the BIRCWH career development training from ORWH and its partners among the NIH Institutes and Centers. There are 19 active BIRCWH programs. ORWH and the NIH Institutes and Centers contribute over $15 million per year to support this career development program.
For further information on the program, visit the Career Development page about BIRCWH.
2023 Active BIRCWH Programs
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Duke University, a research intensive institution, and North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a historically black institution, have united to provide career development of junior faculty with the goal to develop independent investigators who will benefit the health of women and advance our knowledge of sex/gender influences on health through interdisciplinary research. The Duke/NCCU BIRCWH is a strong, vibrant program that continues to have the leadership and institutional commitment for continued success. We request competitive renewal of our BIRCWH program, which has three major goals: 1) To develop highly skilled, innovative junior researchers investigating women's health and sex/gender elements of health and disease across a woman's lifespan through the use of interdisciplinary approaches; 2) To foster diversity in women's health and health disparities research by identifying and recruiting scholars from diverse backgrounds and by providing individualized mentoring and career development support in an environment of team science; 3) To encourage interdisciplinary research on all aspects of women's health by emphasizing the merits of all scientific categories and methods. Our program is built around three pillars: interdisciplinary research, structured mentoring, and individualized career development. The partnership between Duke and NCCU strengthens our goal of training minority scholars and focus on health care disparity. During our past funding periods, we have supported 21 BIRCWH Scholars, including 4 underrepresented minorities. Scholars and their expert interdisciplinary mentoring teams are making strong contributions to women's health research with particular focus on a) obesity, nutrition and cardiovascular health; b) pregnancy-related conditions, c) health services research, and d) breast and gynecological cancers. At any one time, we plan to support three junior faculty members (with one minority or NCCU scholar) from basic or clinical science backgrounds. Scholars choose a BIRCWH mentor from a core group of nationally known senior investigators from Duke and NCCU. Additional mentors are chosen to maximize interdisciplinary opportunities and collaborations. The career development program spans two to five years depending on the Scholar's educational needs and consists of intense hands-on research, mentoring, seminars, training in responsible conduct of research and didactic course work. At the completion of the program the Scholars are expected to have published their results in peer-reviewed journals and obtained funding as a Principal Investigator. Scholars' progress is monitored by the Leadership Team and the Internal Advisory Board (IAB). The program is evaluated and advised by the IAB and an External Advisory Board. We have also added formal external evaluations by an independent evaluator in the Duke Social Science Research Institute. Thus, the Duke/NCCU BIRCWH program will increase the availability of a diverse pool of highly trained women's health researchers to address the Nation's biomedical, behavioral, and clinical needs.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The Emory BIRCWH Program will be a multidisciplinary education program designed to provide career development training and support for outstanding early career investigators with a professional interested in innovative and high impact women's health research. The rationale behind the proposed dedicated education and training program includes: 1) the expanding need, particularly in the southeastern US to identify and train next generations of health-scientists invested in women's health research; 2) the growing necessity for high-quality biomedical research aimed at bridging health disparity between the sexes; 3) the importance of fostering interdisciplinary education and training in sex/gender life science; and 4) the unique opportunity to leverage the extensive expertise and the well-developed research infrastructures, particularly in the field of communicable disease at Emory, to address scientific questions pertinent to women's health. Strengths and resources from partner institutions, combined with a critical mass of investigators working in a significant number of health- related disciplines relevant to women's health within Emory, create an ideal training environment for advancing women's health research. The focus of our program on communicable disease and the impact on women's health highlights health disparities -in our case, among racial/ethnic minority women in the southeastern US - thereby aligning the proposed work with the agenda of the NIH office of research on women's health (OWHR) and capitalizing on Emory's strength in communicable diseases and basic immunology while leveraging existing collaborations with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Institute of Technology, all within a few mile radius of Emory. A formal curriculum has been designed featuring didactic training and mentoring by a team of interdisciplinary established senior scholars and practitioners. Training of investigators from minority and underprivileged backgrounds is a particular focus of this program, and will be facilitated by existing strengths and partnerships in Atlanta. The program also will include a rigorous system for tracking and assessing progress. The Emory BIRCWH is an important component of a growing academic enterprise at Emory, and Emory is poised to provide outstanding career development for emerging leaders in women's health research.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Women and men are at different risks for the onset, expression, and treatment response in a number of disorders that occur at different stages of the lifespan, from development through aging. The mechanisms that explain these sex differences or disorders specific to women are still unclear. The mission of our Harvard BIRCWH is to develop the next generation of scientist-clinicians as leaders in the field of women's health who will contribute to understanding sex-dependent vulnerabilities to clinical disorders and those disorders specific to women. This competing renewal application seeks to continue to support an integrated interdisciplinary training program that is based on a translational approach to understanding differential incidences of disorders important for women's health. The program is modeled in the context of a lifespan perspective to identify etiologic mechanisms during fetal development, puberty, adulthood, and aging, with some focus on female- specific periods such as child-bearing years and menopause. Further, an underlying assumption of our BIRCWH program is that an understanding of the role of hormones and genes will provide the basis for understanding sex-dependent vulnerabilities to clinical disorders. The Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is and will continue to be the home site for this endeavor, in the broader context of a Harvard-wide training program. The program capitalizes on the long tradition of interdisciplinary research in women's health with Mentors who already collaborate across institutions at BWH, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, McLean Hospital, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and the Eli & Edythe Broad Institute. Each of the two Scholars is assigned a team of Mentors in order to operationalize the concept of training Scholars to think in a translational manner. Primary Mentors are in clinical or basic research and provide the site at which the Scholar works. Secondary Mentors are in basic or clinical research (as a counterpart to the Primary) and help to guide thinking, suggest coursework, and readings, depending on the Scholar's interests. Career Mentors advise Scholars in the relevant departmental and academic structures for career advancement. Mentors in Health Disparities expose Scholars to thinking about how the roles of hormones and genes in predicting morbidity are influenced by socioenvironmental factors. The Harvard BIRCWH program focuses on the following disorders, given either their known higher incidence and/or differential expression in women than men and the strengths of the Harvard community in women's health: Cardiovascular Disorders; Reproductive Endocrine & Neuroendocrine Disorders; Neuropsychiatric Disorders; Autoimmune Disorders; and Female Cancers. By capitalizing on the vast resources and faculty at Harvard, we believe that Harvard is an ideal site for continuing to offer an integrated, interdisciplinary and truly translational program that is training the next generation of leaders in women's health.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The overarching goal of the Johns Hopkins BIRCWH program (JH-BIRCWH) is to develop highly qualified, independent investigators to conduct women's health and sex and gender differences research. These independent investigators will be leaders now and in the future, developing innovative, interdisciplinary programs of research that will improve health and social outcomes for diverse women, and also men, across the lifespan. To achieve our goal, the JH-BIRCWH will: 1) recruit promising and highly motivated junior faculty scholars from within Johns Hopkins University and nationally, with priority given to investigators from groups underrepresented in research; 2) use a learner-centered and competency-based approach to interdisciplinary career development under the guidance of a team of nationally recognized, committed and experienced women's health and sex/gender differences mentors; and 3) develop independent, ethical women's health research leaders. During their mentored research, Scholars will broaden their understanding of women's health research through the lens of a life course perspective, with particular attention to research on the health needs of diverse and high risk populations. JH-BIRCWH will highlight three core strength areas of mentored interdisciplinary research with highly experienced, nationally and internationally recognized, senior faculty active in research related to women's health or sex differences, committed to supporting and sponsoring JH BIRCWH scholars. The 3 core strength areas are: 1) diseases specific to women (e.g. women's cancer and reproductive biology); 2) sex and gender differences in disease expression (e.g. immunology, neuroscience, cardiovascular and genetics); and 3) social determinants of women's health and disparities (e.g. violence against women, trauma, addictions and poverty). JH-BIRCWH Scholars will be provided 75 percent-protected research time for a minimum of two years with two Scholars from both clinical and non-clinical areas per year. JHU is committed to supporting the transformation of Scholars into independently funded, networked, and lifelong ethical investigators leading interdisciplinary teams to improve women's health by advancing our understanding of sex and gender differences and health concerns unique to, more prevalent, or with differential consequences in women.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Our goal, as defined in this renewal of our career development program, entitled Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health in Pittsburgh (BIRCWH@Pitt), is to build on our success to train, nurture, and support talented University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) faculty scholars in personalized prevention, diagnostics, and therapeutics for girls and women. We have built our program on an unparalleled strength in reproductive sciences and women's health research, led by Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) within Pitt. MWRI is located at the center of Pitt's campus, and is immediately adjacent to Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, one of the nation's most robust integrated healthcare systems. Our 98 researchers are fully engaged in basic, translational, behavioral, clinical, and health services research, pursued at Pitt's six health sciences schools and at MWRI's research facility. We strive to catalyze training and research in women's health locally, regionally, and nationally, promote the dissemination of our research to communities, and advocate for policies that promote personalized medicine to women and girls. With MWRI as the programmatic hub of BIRCWH@Pitt, we have markedly strengthened our women's health network and created new and exciting investigative nodes within Pitt's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). We have also created a new core within Pitt's CTSI, designed to promote research on special populations, with a vanguard emphasis on women across the lifespan, including girls, adolescents, pregnant women, and postmenopausal and older individuals. These programs, as detailed in this application, represent a bold and far-reaching plan to include females of diverse ethnic groups or gender orientation and those living in rural communities or with disabilities. These recently established platforms enable us to focus on our long-term objectives of scholars' education, intellectual stimulation, hands-on training, intense career development toward full academic independence, motivation of new collaborative synergies, and implementation of sustainable women's health research. Cognizant of the fact that our scholars enter our program with diverse academic backgrounds and investigative skills, we have crafted individually tailored career development plans of 2-5 years, depending on each scholar's training and expertise. A team of mentors with diverse yet complementary skills is assembled, based on the scholar's background and needs, and works with each scholar to achieve her/his goals. Each scholar is guided by an interdisciplinary group of three mentors and overseen by an Advisory Committee comprised of researchers with heterogeneous scientific backgrounds. Resources garnered through our program are shared with other reproductive sciences trainees at MWRI and across Pitt's Health Sciences. Together, BIRCWH@Pitt emphasizes imaginative thinking, cross-fertilization, and collaboration that bridges basic sciences and clinical medicine, and serves to propel our scholars to successful careers in women's health and the dissemination of knowledge to academy and community.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The Mayo Clinic Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program has matured since we enrolled our first scholar in 2011. The short-term goal of the program is to recruit and train outstanding investigators in interdisciplinary women's health research, and the long-term goal is to build and sustain a viable pool of investigators with synergistic projects who will lead the translation of scientific finding into better health for women. In this renewal application, the focus of our program is sharpened, the strengths of the program are preserved, and several novel elements that were introduced during the current funding cycle are expanded. The training and mentoring of our scholars is provided by renowned basic, clinical, and translational scientists in a collegial and innovative academic environment in a patient-centered institution. Our scholars have achieved success in collaborative research activities, have obtained competitive funding, have publishing manuscripts, have receiving extramural leadership positions, and have engaged in transformational clinical initiatives. During the current funding cycle, we have introduced three innovations: 1) we developed closer and mutually beneficial ties with the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCaTS; 1UL1RR024150) to support the educational component of our program; 2) we integrated our scholars into the Mayo Clinic Specialized Center of Research on Sex Differences (SCOR; AG044170) as a focus for research activities and opportunity for involvement in team science, where appropriate; and 3) we established a "Regional BIRCWH Partnership" consisting of the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin BIRCWH programs to broaden and extend opportunities for career development through colleagiality, collaboration, and mentoring. These three novel elements, built upon our core program, were designed to facilitate synergies with the Mayo Clinic CCaTS and with our neighboring BIRCWH programs. The research leadership at Mayo Clinic recognizes the importance of the BIRCWH program in fostering our institutional commitment to women's health, and will support one additional BIRCWH scholar during the next funding cycle (2015-2020). Each scholar will generally be enrolled for up to 3 years, and at any point in time, we will have funding to support 3 scholars (2 with NIH funding and 1 with Mayo funding). Our scholars will generally be junior faculty members with a doctoral degree (e.g., MD or PhD). These innovations and the strong institutional support distinguish our BIRCWH program from other programs in the country.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This competing renewal application seeks to continue and enhance the OHSU BIRCWH program entitled “Oregon BIRCWH: Scholars in Women’s Health Research Across the Lifespan.” The overarching goal of the Oregon BIRCWH is to develop leaders in interdisciplinary team science who advance research in women’s health and on sex differences. Oregon BIRCWH Scholars and mentors actively contribute research across the entire lifespan (unifying research theme) of girls and women from in-utero, child, and adult disease through the reproductive years to cancer and cognition in the elderly. The Oregon BIRCWH has successfully trained 25 scholars who have received over $153 million dollars in research funding, published over 720 publications (including Science, NEJM, JAMA), and assumed important national leadership positions. In this renewal we focus on innovative program expansions: 1) a leadership academy focused on providing BIRCWH scholars with the knowledge, skills, and encouragement to become leaders in academics/research organizations as well as scientific leaders, 2) entrepreneurship, 3) a focus on infrastructure and activities that promote interdisciplinary team science including state and national cross-institutional research pilots in interdisciplinary women’s health, and 4) BIRCWH alumni program. These expansions are intended to strengthen the experience for BIRCWH scholars and to broaden the reach of women’s health and sex/gender research at institutional, state, and national levels. The Oregon BIRCWH is a vital driver of OHSU’s institutional research and interdisciplinary career development culture. The BIRCWH Advisory Committee consists of the most successful investigators on campus who are deeply dedicated to overseeing the program, recruiting and selecting Scholars, and monitoring Scholar and Program successes. The BIRCWH training program is tailored to the background and individual needs of each Scholar. The Program will support 3 scholars at all times. Seen as one of the most prestigious and successful career development programs at OHSU, the Oregon BIRCWH benefits from a robust and highly competitive institutional and national candidate pool and will continue existing best practices that have made our program highly successful. The Oregon BIRCWH plays a unique and important role at OHSU as the only K12 career development program open to all faculty and specifically dedicated to career development in women’s health and sex differences research. The Oregon BIRCWH is also an important contributor to the Program at a national level leading cross-institutional discovery and publications on topics such as best practices in mentoring, understanding the unique skills and needs for interdisciplinary team mentoring, and examining infrastructural elements and organizational design that promote team science. The Oregon BIRCWH program develops a workforce of leaders in interdisciplinary team science and advances research in women’s health.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): There is a demonstrated need to increase the number of excellent researchers in women's health and sex/gender differences to better understand basic mechanisms of disease and develop treatment that addresses the heterogeneity of treatment effects by sex. The Tufts University Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) Scholars Program seeks to develop a model program to recruit, select, and train junior faculty to conduct basic research in sex/gender differences and clinical and health services research on women's health issues. The long term goals of the Tufts BIRCWH Program are to develop the next generation of leaders in research in sex/gender differences and women’s health. The Program will fund junior faculty within 6 years of their training. We will fund 2 types of trainees, Basic Science Scholars and Clinical Scholars, who have completed their doctoral training but require more in depth interdisciplinary research training. The Program will achieve its goals through 5 key activities, tailored to meet each Scholar’s training needs: 1) interdisciplinary mentoring teams, 2) formal research training including courses at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, 3) interdisciplinary research seminars, 4) a mentored research project, and 5) development of skills in grant proposal preparation. The Tufts BIRCWH Program will promote all stages of translational research from basic science in sex/gender differences to clinical and outcomes research focusing on several important questions in the care of women: · Sex differences in basic cellular mechanisms, including cardiovascular sex differences, mechanisms of sex differences in psychopharmacological effects and side effects, cancer metastases, bioengineering of cervical tissue, reproductive and neonatal genomic medicine, intergenerational effects on mothers and their children during pregnancy, basic mechanism of sex differences in depression and substance use. · Nutrition science and sex/gender differences, with a focus on both basic research on sex hormones and other sex differences in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and clinical research addressing nutritional supplements, and nutrition and disease in women. · Clinical outcomes and comparative effectiveness research on women’s health and gender differences, with a major focus on cardiovascular disease, metabolism and nutrition. · Understanding gender and workforce issues, the impact of health on workforce functioning in women, and gender and academic science careers. We propose to fund 3 scholars annually, with initial appointments of 2 years with an option to be considered for a 3rd year.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This is a competing renewal application for the Tulane BIRCWH Program, which has successfully trained a racially/ethnically and professionally diverse group of interdisciplinary researchers in women's health and in- creased awareness of women's health research at Tulane over the last 4 years. We propose now to build on our prior success and expand and reinforce the BIRCWH program base. The long-term goal is to increase the number and diversity of highly trained culturally competent, independent, interdisciplinary investigators in Women's Health with an emphasis on Sex Differences research in the field of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and related diseases. The program focuses on CVD and related diseases because of the impacts of heart dis- ease on women, the existing knowledge gaps on the sex differences in CVD across the research spectrum, and the strength of this focus at Tulane. Key components of our successful career development plan include 1) didactic courses tailored to specific Scholar needs; 2) individualized career development training; 3) BIRCWH seminar series; 4) Work-in-Progress sessions; 5) required grant writing and project management workshops; 6) mentored interdisciplinary research; 7) responsible conduct in research training; and 8) institu- tional resources. The innovative approach includes tailoring the program to Scholars needs using self-efficacy assessment and career development plans, and using a network mentoring model for each Scholar, including expertise in both basic science and clinical research. Scholars are immediately exposed to research and are guided to establish a scholarly track record early, and gain presentation and organization skills by active partic- ipation in the Health Sciences Research days-Women's Health/Sex Differences Section. New components of the enhanced BIRCWH program include additional faculty participation in new disciplines including BIRCWH alumni, mentor training for Mentors and Scholars, integration of rigor, reproducibility, transparency, and sex as a biologic variable training, strengthened collaboration with Xavier, a historically Black, less-research-intensive institution, and a planned pipeline for Scholars to the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence. The Schol- ars will learn cutting-edge research methods and skills from Bench (cellular, molecular, and genetics), to Bed- side (clinical research and clinical trials) to Population (epidemiology, prevention, and health services re- search) and conduct their own research projects in established laboratories/research groups in a mentored, interdisciplinary environment that address the most recent ORWH priorities. Scholar's interdisciplinary re- search will focus on sex differences in CVD and related diseases and their risk factors and address overarch- ing themes (lifespan, sex/gender determinants, health disparities, and interdisciplinary research). We propose to train 6 faculty Scholars for a minimum of 2-3 years (3 years minimum for physician-scientists). Ongoing and comprehensive evaluation will guide improvements to the program's demonstrated effectiveness in bridging research training and research independence for junior scientists focused on Sex Differences and CVD.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): In the past 9 years, the UC Davis BIRCWH program has trained a sizeable, diverse cadre of interdisciplinary researchers in women's health and sex differences and heightened the visibility and standing of such research. We will build on this strong foundation to create a next-generation BIRCWH program to increase its innovation and impact. Our goal is to create an academically stimulating and nurturing environment for researchers in women's health and sex differences, to facilitate their career development and encourage paradigm-shifting, interdisciplinary collaboration and team science to advance research in women's health and sex disparities. Our short-term BIRCWH objectives are to: 1) provide in-depth, individualized training and team-based interdisciplinary mentoring to support the independent career development of Scholars in interdisciplinary women's health and sex differences research; and 2) advance and achieve high-impact women's health and sex/gender differences research by establishing cross-disciplinary collaborations with UC Davis schools that advance science and health. Our long-term objectives are to: 1) improve women's health by enhancing understanding of the unique aspects of female sex and gender and translating this knowledge to clinical practice; 2) develop transformative interdisciplinary team science for women's health and sex/ gender disparities research; and 3) train leaders in interdisciplinary women's health and sex differences research. To accomplish our objectives, BIRCWH Scholars will participate in: (1) team-based, interdisciplinary mentored research and career development activities; (2) core courses on study design, grant writing, biostatistics, communication, team science and responsible conduct of research; (3) supplemental courses tailored to each Scholars' needs and interests; (4) team-based interdisciplinary research; (5) integrated journal clubs; (6) monthly breakfast meetings with the PI and RD to discuss research and career progress; (7) a biannual symposium of Northern California BIRCWH programs; and (8) the School of Medicine (SOM) Mentoring Academy, for mentors and Scholars to be trained in skills to optimize mentoring experiences. Our program will leverage campus expertise in four research areas: neuroscience/pediatric neurodevelopment/ behavior; metabolic/inflammatory/nutrition-related syndromes; musculoskeletal diseases and aging disorders; and cancer. These areas will be addressed through our BIRCWH cross- cutting themes: (1) a lifespan approach to understanding normal development, illness/disease, and aging; (2) sex and gender determinants; (3) health disparities; and (4) interdisciplinary research. This program will fund 2 scholars, each for 5 years, and we have a funding commitment from the SOM to support an additional scholar. All BIRCWH scholars must be junior faculty within 6 years of their terminal degree. All selected scholars must engage in interdisciplinary women's health and/or sex/gender disparities, team science-based research and create an independent development plan for their pathway to independence.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This competing renewal application proposes continuation of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Kaiser Permanente Northern California Department of Research (Kaiser DOR) Bridging Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) K-12 Program. The program's objectives are to: 1. recruit a superb and diverse group of early career women's health researchers; 2. provide them individually-tailored training and mentoring; 3. build upon our existing program by targeting important yet understudied topics in women's health; 4. strengthen and integrate models of multidisciplinary research, developing researchers who foster linkages across disciplines and institutions; and 5. promote the prominence of and resources allocated to women's health research by mentoring BIRCWH scholars and alumni in academic advancement and leadership. The program is includes mentors and advisors from 11 UCSF's departments and centers, as well as the Kaiser DOR. It emphasizes novel transdisciplinary approaches to a wide range of women's health issues and draws on the unique strengths of these organizations. We will continue the program's strong initiatives in women's cancers; environmental health; mental health, addiction, and cognition; infectious disease; metabolism and bone health; and reproductive health across the lifespan. A multidisciplinary Advisory Committee oversees the program in partnership with leadership, including selection of new scholars. The program emphasizes mentoring teams that cross disciplines and research methodologies. Diverse scholars and affiliated faculty-in terms of fields of interest, background, training, ethnicity, an gender-are a priority. Two postdoctoral BIRCWH scholars are supported for at least two years and participate in program-specific seminars, progress assessments, mentoring activities, and alumni leadership development activities. The program integrates UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) career development and training programs. The career development path for each scholar is tailored to the specific types of experience and mentoring that will most effectively support her or his transition to an independent clinical scientist. The program overall will continue to be a unique resource for the continuation and expansion of women's health science in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This application is for the 3rd cycle of funding for the Colorado Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Research (BIRCWH) K12 program, established in 2007. Over the past almost 10 years, we have had 14 Scholars in the program, 12 of whom have remained in academic medicine, 11 have received external funding (2 of the 3 not yet funded are more recent Scholars) and who collectively have produced over 90 publications (not including abstracts). For our proposed third cycle, learning from our experience in two prior cycles of BIRCWH, we propose several key program innovations: 1) Adding a proven research and career development curriculum to the program (replacing old curriculum) while ensuring that there is no disruption of Scholar research time. 2) Adding Precision Medicine as a focus area, thus providing a cutting edge, cross- cutting theme that will serve to interweave our foci together. 3) Scholars will write their first individual K award earlier in time (in the 8th-9th month of a BIRCWH Scholar’s appointment) than in prior years. In our pilot test of this approach, without any change in the selection process, current BIRCWH Scholars are obtaining individual external funding with increasing rates of success. 4) Continued use of SAC following completion of BIRCWH Scholar period (if an individual K is the next step or through writing the R) to provide ongoing guidance through the career development period while establishing independence. This has proven to be very successful in helping Scholars progress. 5) Working with Shanta Zimmer, MD, new Associate Dean for Diversity, to increase diversity of BIRCWH Scholars using the new UC-SOM plan and 6) Increased biostatistian availability to meet the complex statistical needs of the Scholars. Our specific aims are to: Support 3 top applicants from a national pool of exceptionally motivated and talented individuals, and provide them with an appropriately tailored, top-quality interdisciplinary mentored research experience; Provide Scholars with outstanding mentors from within and without the departments of Medicine and Ob/Gyn, including expertise in Cardiology, Endocrinology, Epidemiology, Immunology, Integrative Physiology, Molecular Biology, Pediatrics, Precision Medicine and Psychiatry, among others, all of whom are senior scientists with strong track records of funding and training, and nurture interdisciplinary team scientists poised to address key research problems in women’s health and sex differences. Our Internal Program Advisory Committee will continue to evaluate program operations and progress; our External Program Advisory Committee which will provide an outsider’s overview of the BIRCWH to assure that we stay abreast of national trends in women’s health and sex difference research. The excellent institutional support for the Colorado BIRCWH, including the Center for Women’s Health Research and other groups that support BIRCWH, will also fuel the growth of this important program which aims to develop successful, independent interdisciplinary careers of scientists in women’s health and sex differences research and thereby improve the health of women.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The BIRCWH Program at the University of Kentucky (UK) is built around three pillars: interdisciplinary research, mentoring, and career development. We will continue to provide the formal framework through which experienced faculty members who share common interests in women's health will offer mentoring to provide in-depth research experiences and didactic training to junior faculty members. Our goal is to provide UK BIRCWH scholars with opportunities for an interdisciplinary, mentored career development experience to facilitate their transition to become independent, extramurally funded investigators in women's health research. We choose to focus our scholarship efforts on those health challenges prevalent to Appalachian Kentucky. Because the Appalachian region is disproportionately affected by drug abuse, violence, and poor health, we will actively engage women living in Appalachian Kentucky in our research agenda with research flowing bidirectionally between communities and researchers. This approach will continue to provide our BIRCWH scholars with state-of-the-art multidisciplinary training leading to their development as faculty with independent NIH and extramural funding. The focused areas targeted towards improving women's health in this application include: 1) substance abuse, 2) violence against women, and 3) changes across a woman's lifespan. Through this BIRCWH program, strengthening the capacity for women's health research will be accomplished by the following Aims: 1) to provide the environment, mentorship, and facilities to enhance the ability of BIRCWH scholars to compete for NIH research grants in diverse areas of women's health research, 2) to deepen our understanding of the unique role of gender in the manifestation of health and disease, 3) to develop and implement new communication and social networking technologies to address women's health, 4) to personalize prevention, diagnostics, and therapeutics to address health disparities among women such as substance abuse and violence, 5) to stimulate new collaborations in focused, interdisciplinary, and interactive research areas that are essential for improving women's health; and 6) to use a thematic multidisciplinary focus as a platform for enhancing translational research between basic, clinical and public health scientists. The foundation of the BIRCWH program will continue to be practical research experiences within interdisciplinary teams guided by experienced mentors. As evident by the success of our former BIRCWH scholars, we are well positioned to continue the tradition of excellence in mentoring our scholars to become independent researchers in women's health.
Abstract: The University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) BIRCWH program trains a diverse group of junior faculty members to become independent women’s health or sex/gender-based research investigators. The program consists of a core and tailored curriculum, research training, mentoring (by a team of two or more senior women’s health or sex/gender-based health researchers), individualized career planning, and a research project. The overall goal of the UIC BIRCWH program is to align with the 2019–2023 Trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research to “promote training and careers to develop a well-trained, diverse, and robust workforce to advance science for the health of women.” Through evidence-based mentoring practices, innovative training strategies, and strong internal and external multidisciplinary collaborations, the UIC BIRCWH improves recruitment, retention, and advancement of women and underrepresented minorities as scientists and academic leaders in interdisciplinary women’s health and sex and gender differences research. The program’s long-term objective is to promote training and career development of a new generation of researchers equipped with the knowledge and career skills necessary to advance science for the health of women in the next decade and beyond. The UIC BIRCWH program is based in the UIC College of Medicine but draws on the interdisciplinary strengths of UIC’s seven health colleges. UIC’s BIRCWH Scholars and mentors represent a diversity of disciplines from each of the six health colleges at UIC. UIC’s past success in directing the BIRCWH from 2007 to 2017 fostered the academic careers of 18 Scholars, 33% of whom were underrepresented minorities. Their success is evident in their receiving 24 NIH grants as principal investigators (PIs) and 32 as co-investigators, as well as numerous non-NIH grants (55 as PIs and 50 as co-investigators), and their having written 510 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts (131 with first authorship).
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The University of Minnesota's Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) Program's overarching goal is to improve the health of all women across the lifespan and, by extension, to improve the health of their families and communities in Minnesota, the nation, and the world. The BIRCWH is a comprehensive program that ensures our scholars (assistant professors) become premier interdisciplinary women's health researchers. Our short-term objective is to facilitate the research careers of our scholars by expanding their research skills, experience in team science, research networks and leadership abilities, and increasing their scholarly productivity. This objective will be accomplished through the following components: 1) Competency-based training in the design, conduct, and dissemination of high-quality women's health and sex differences research with both required and individualized components, including curricular innovations in research ethics, rigor and reproducibility, bioinformatics and advance methodology, and scientific leadership; 2) A robust interdisciplinary mentoring program that has an academically diverse pool of women's health research mentors, including BIRCWH alumni, who can support all aspects of the Scholars' research career development; 3) Formation of new alliances with other BIRCWH Programs to enhance opportunities for cross- institutional networking and research collaborations to will promote the national recognition of our Scholars; and 4) Strong program oversight and evaluation that is tailored to the program competencies and benchmarks. Our long-term objectives are to: 1) Increase the number of interdisciplinary research leaders who advance scientific knowledge in women's health and wellness across the lifespan and in sex/gender differences in health and disease; 2) Foster new cross-disciplinary collaborations within the University and broader community to increase the impact of women's health research; 3) Transform the academic environment by increasing the visibility of interdisciplinary women's health and sex/gender determinants research; and 4) Effect the timely translation of women's health research findings to clinical practice, public health and policy. For this cycle, we are have chosen four major interdisciplinary research focus areas. They are: a) Cancers occurring in primarily in females or have sex-specific aspects to treatment; b) Behavior and health eating/obesity and substance use disorders; c) Mature women's health with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis; and c) Health disparities community-engaged research to address disparities in women and girls. Rationale and design of the program: We will achieve the program's goal by increasing the number of well-trained, interdisciplinary researchers who focus on women's health and the effects of biological sex and gender roles on health and disease. We fund three women's health or sex differences researchers who are assistant professors in year one through there faculty appointment for three years.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) proposes a renewal of our successful BIRCWH Program to develop independent researchers in women's health. The Program will support two Scholars at the assistant professor level per budget year for appointments of 3 years. The Program Plan includes 16 experienced senior investigators as Mentors from Schools of Medicine and Health Professions, many of whom also hold positions in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Research focus areas reflect the strong interdisciplinary infrastructure at UTMB and include: Aging, Cancer, Infectious Disease, and Reproductive Health, especially as related to the health needs of underserved women. The Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health provides forums for interdisciplinary endeavors and administers the Program. The candidate pool is fed by a tiered pipeline including local departments, centers, and T32 programs, followed by applicants from UT System campuses designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions. Additional efforts to obtain diverse applicants extend to the national level through advertisements and solicitations made with leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities. During the first two cycles of funding, we trained 16 Scholars, 13 of whom have received 48 awards from private and federal sponsors, including NIH. Their level of productivity is also demonstrated by over 130 publications in peer-reviewed journals. For our third cycle of funding, our Program will continue to use multidisciplinary mentoring teams and the mentored research experience as the core components of each Scholar's tailored career development plan. Multiple formal and informal venues provide ample opportunities for developing skills and collaborative interdisciplinary networks. Scholars may also obtain a MS in Clinical Science. In addition, a Resource Laboratory will provide individual assistance with methods development and statistical guidance. Our proposed renewal is supported by a significant institutional commitment assured by the President and the Provost & Dean of the School of Medicine. A renewal will further strengthen women's health research at UTMB and will ensure that through participation in this Program, Scholars will become independently supported investigators and strong contributors in the many areas of health that affect women over the lifespan.
Abstract: The mission of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) program is to improve women’s health by developing a scientific workforce capable of leading independently funded research programs. The UW BIRCWH program provides career development opportunities through competency based curricular activities, mentored research training, and pioneering new approaches to team science and career coaching. A rich foundation of distinguished program leadership, accomplished program faculty and expansive institutional resources, provides an outstanding environment to foster the next generation of leaders in women’s health research.
The UW BIRCWH program is committed to building a diverse and inclusive learning environment across a wide spectrum of dimensions (gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, discipline, etc.).
The UW BIRCWH award is a trans-NIH collaborative effort, administered by the Office of Research on Women’s Health.
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The goal of the Vanderbilt BIRCWH Scholars Program is to increase the pool of well-prepared investigators dedicated to advancing knowledge about women's health via advances in sex and gender biology. Our intent is to integrate the study of sex/gender differences into thriving research programs across the scientific spectrum, in order to actualize personalized prevention, diagnostics, and therapeutics for girls and women. We are building on a tradition of research excellence that includes large-scale health system data; ongoing cohorts, several with more than 90,000 participants like the Southern Community Cohort Study and Shanghai Women's and Men's Health Studies; two decades of Medicaid data record linkages; DNA samples linked with clinical data for more than 220,000 patients; robust tissue and biomarker banks and consortia access; and more than 50 cores that support interdisciplinary teams making fundamental discoveries inside and outside the lab. Our 25 former and current scholars conduct research in areas as diverse as immunologic aspects of lupus, gender differences in outcomes of ICU care, differences in gait and needs for prosthetic revision among female and male amputees, role of sex hormones in T cell differentiation and cytokine expression, and patterns of progression and resistance to dementia comparing women and men. All our alumni remain in science or industry. Of those in academics, all have had extramural awards, 88% with federal funding, for a total of more than $32 million in extramural research support. BIRCWH Scholars are grounded in the fundamentals of women's health and sex differences research, prepared to lead collaborative teams, trained to effectively deploy innovative interdisciplinary approaches to attack and solve problems, and committed to pursuing research that brings individualized care for women closer to reality. Scholars are selected by competitive review of applications from among early-career faculty. Training is tailored to the individual scholar guided by structured interdisciplinary mentorship, and is overseen by the PI, Program Director and Associate Program Director (each former BIRCWH Scholars). Scholars form a mentoring panel, craft an individualized career plan, participate in weekly BIRCWH work-in-progress presentations and seminars, receive formal evaluation each year, attend twice-monthly career development seminar series with other K-awardees, and are regularly exposed to case studies on responsible conduct of rigorous and reproducible research. They have access to: 1) an array of cores; 2) biostatistics consults; 3) manuscript preparation groups; 4) technical editing of completed products; 5) studios with experts to vet scientific ideas, aims, and research designs; 6) intramural pilot and feasibility funding; and 7) grant writing support including grant workshops, a funded grant library, and internal study sections. Tools are in place to evaluate both mentees and mentors and to continuously enhance our program. Oversight is provided by an advisory committee and biennial external reviews. Combined these efforts ensure we can continue to foster excellence in the next generation of women's health researchers.