The Principal Investigator for the BIRCWH program at Washington University is Dr. Clay Semenkovich, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Lipid Research. He has trained more than 40 individuals in biomedical research. Dr. Semenkovich has directed the Diabetes and Related Metabolic Disorders T32 program since 2007, served as Program Director for the ACGME training program in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Washington University, and founded the BIRCWH (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health) program at Washington University in 2000. He was BIRCWH Program Director until 2007, when he was appointed BIRCWH PI. Currently he provides strategic direction for the T32 and utilizes his ongoing experiences in national workshop activities as well as networking with other program directors to implement new strategies for this BIRCWH K12 that include improved mentoring and program evaluation, didactic approaches to research techniques, diversity recruitment, and others.
The Research Director is Dr. Thomas J. Baranski, a member of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research in the Department of Medicine. He has been the Research Director since 2007 and has a considerable commitment to the BIRCWH Program and to training physician scientists. He has been responsible for soliciting applications to the program, recruiting Mentors, matching Scholars with Mentors, organizing the scientific review of applications, reviewing each application, establishing individualized Scholar Development Committees, meeting regularly with Scholars (to review data, assess the effectiveness of the mentor, help plan and review grant applications), facilitating the invitation of prominent visiting Professors hosted by Scholars, and serving as an advocate for Scholars as they define ownership of their scientific program. Dr. Baranski currently serves as the PI on an NIDDK T35 Predoctoral Research Training Grant, which provides research experiences for 16 WU medical students each summer. He is also active in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP, for MD/PhDs) at WU, organizing a seminar series called Meet the Assistant Professors and he is a member of the MSTP Advisory Committee.
There are 25 outstanding scientists who serve as Faculty Mentors based on their commitment to the development of independent researchers in women’s health. Of these 25, 15 have served as mentors, 16 served on career development committees for Scholars. During this funding period, three former BIRCWH Scholars have been appointed as Faculty Mentors. The success of these Scholars serves as testament to the vertically integrated success of the BIRCWH at Washington University. The mentors are currently involved in at least one component of the program and are regular participants in the interdisciplinary seminar series for the BIRCWH program. In short, this is a group committed to providing developmental experiences leading to independence for young scientists performing research in women’s health.