Welcome to Washington University School of Medicine’s BIRCWH Program
The Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Program at Washington University School of Medicine supports the career development of up to five junior faculty members who show exceptional promise for an independent research career that will benefit the health of women.
These junior faculty members, known as Interdisciplinary Women’s Health Research (IWHR) Scholars are nurtured as they make the critical transition from inchoate junior faculty to full independent investigators. The program targets individuals who have recently completed clinical training or postdoctoral fellowships, bridging the gap between this advanced training and research independence. It also bridges different scientific disciplines and areas of interest in women’s health through a mentor pool of independent scientists representing eight different departments in health.
Applicants must have completed an M.D. or Ph.D. and be interested in performing research related to women’s health.
Career development of scholars is achieved by:
- Providing formal didactic training for appropriate IWHR Scholars.
- Providing protected time (75% or greater) for a focused, mentored research experience for all scholars.
- Providing formal training in the responsible conduct of research for all scholars.
- Establishing a seminar series for BIRCWH mentors and scholars consisting of journal clubs devoted to issues specifically relevant to women’s health, and research presentations in which both mentors and scholars discuss the results of ongoing projects.
- Providing a formal research link to existing and future clinical programs related to women’s health at Washington University.
The career development plan for scholars is tailored to the needs of the prospective candidates. With some exceptions, the program contributes to the career development of two types of scholars:
- Individuals with considerable prior research experience (such as M.D./Ph.D.s and Ph.D.s) and a particular interest in research that will benefit women’s health.
- M.D.s who have completed a subspecialty fellowship involving research training and wish to pursue research that will benefit women’s health.
- Individuals who have not served as the Principal Investigator or equivalent on a NIH- R01, K01, K08, P01, P50, U54 (or their equivalent).
The Mentoring Experience
Twenty-five mentors at Washington University provide a strongly integrated focus on women’s health research across eight focus areas: autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, complications of pregnancy, diabetes, obesity and metabolism, osteoporosis, infectious disease, and cancer. Two tracks will serve scholars with substantial or limited prior research experience.
At the time of entrance into the program, each scholar will have a mentor. Regardless of the particular development track of the scholar, each scholar will begin participation in the activities of the mentor’s laboratory from the first day of the program. While the generation of meaningful data will come quickly for some and later for others, each scholar will participate in weekly lab meetings, meet in individual sessions with the mentor, attend departmental seminars relevant to the area of interest, and participate in journal clubs specific to the scholar’s field.
This is a highly competitive program, and it is an honor to be a Washington University IWHR Scholar. The BIRCWH Program has great potential to produce independent scientists performing innovative research to benefit the health of women. Each successful applicant receives annual support to cover salary with fringes, travel and some supplies. The duration of support will vary due to the individualized nature of the program.
The BIRCWH Program was established by The Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) and its cosponsors at the National Institutes of Health. Washington University is one of a handful of leading U.S. universities selected to participate as BIRCWH institutions.
BIRCWH is sponsored by:
Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH)
National Institute on Aging
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Cancer Institute
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institute of Mental Health