In the past twenty-years, the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) has stimulated novel interdisciplinary research through funding initiatives such as the BIRCWH program. The goal of this initiative is to increase the number and skills of investigators through a mentored research and career development experience leading to an independent interdisciplinary scientific career that will benefit the health of women. Interdisciplinary research could provide an opportunity for not just medical specialties but also researchers in dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, biotechnology, social sciences, anthropology, genetics, and other disciplines, representing different perspectives and areas of expertise, to work together in a mutually beneficial collaboration to advance women's health.
The Emory BIRCWH Program
The Emory BIRCWH Program is a multidisciplinary education program designed to provide career development training and support for outstanding junior faculty interested in innovative and high impact women’s health research. In the initial project period, our program plan was focused on building a sustainable BIRCWH-specific career development infrastructure with the following components: a) A diverse and cohesive leadership structure; b) An effective approach for identifying and recruiting a diverse cohort of promising junior faculty with interest in developing a career in women’s health research; c) A women’s health tailored didactic research training program that leverages existing infrastructure to maximize economy of scale; and d) A mentoring career development program that is adapted to the needs of the individual Scholar.
Applying these metrics, the Emory BIRCWH has made significant contributions to the Office of Research in Women’s Health’s mission to promote women's health research and the science of sex differences. Our training plan is firmly tethered to relevant institutional programs including Emory University Laney Graduate School’s Master of Science in Clinical Research program. We attracted some of the best and brightest cadre of junior faculty who have leveraged the BIRCWH support to advance their careers, receiving NIH funding in excess of $16 M as PIs, and publishing 86 peer-reviewed papers during their training in the BIRCWH.
For the current project period, the Emory BIRCWH aims to develop a new level of enhanced impact through consolidation of successful program activities, and piloting of new initiatives and best practices aimed at further enriching the training experience for our Scholars and facilitating their transition into research independence. We will: a) Expand our program administrative structure to meet the growing needs of the Emory BIRCWH, and leverage this expansion as a tool for practical leadership skill development for the next generation of BIRCWH and women’s health leaders; b) Continue to leverage and partner with available institutional infrastructure for individualized didactic research training in research fundamentals and methodology to advance women’s health research and the science of sex/gender differences; c) Refine ourmultidisciplinary mentored career development program by adding community mentors to broaden the impact of scholars’ research; and d) Enhance and continue to the implementation of our successful campus-wide approach for identifying and recruiting a diverse cohort of promising candidates.
Faculty mentors with expertise in broad areas of communicable disease have been strategically assembled for this program, including: transmission, prevention, basic pathology and pathogenesis, end-organ complications (cardiac, endocrine, pulmonary, etc), disease management, therapeutics, pharmacology, microbiology, immunology, and vaccinology. Research training in communicable disease will include social determinants of disease outcomes, economic determinants of disease burden, barriers to access and impediment to engagement in care, maternal health and child outcomes, global health, health disparities, and community-based interventions.
Scholars accepted into the BIRCWH Program will receive salary support to enable them to spend at least 75% of their professional time on research training and a $25,000 technical budget for research-related expenses and tuition for the Master of Science in Clinical Research MSCR degree or other relevant training. The maximum salary support is $100,000 per year plus fringe benefits. Support in the program will be provided for up to two years and will be based on performance in the program. Salary support for the lead mentor is not allowed by NIH.
Each scholar accepted into the program must submit a mandatory Career Development NIH K Award (e.g. K23, K01, K08) or equivalent grant application by the end of their first 12 months of the BIRCWH funding.