The "Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health" (BIRCWH) supports research career development of junior faculty members, known as BIRCWH Scholars, who have recently completed clinical training or postdoctoral fellowships, and who are commencing
1. Basic Research
2. Translational Research
3. Clinical Research
4. And/or health services research relevant to women's health
The goal of this NIH initiative is to promote the performance of research and transfer of findings that will benefit the health of women. The programs will accomplish these goals by Bridging advanced training with research independence and bridging scientific disciplines or areas of interest
UNC was one of the first programs selected in 2000 to become a “Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health” (BIRCWH) K12 Program by the NIH and has been continuously funded.
The short term objectives of the UNC BIRCWH Program are:
- to provide the infrastructure and resources necessary to identify, recruit, and then educate junior faculty members – Scholars -- who are interested in and committed to research careers in women's health;
- to expand still further our existing network of senior faculty mentors, organized according to three broad research themes, that will enhance the interdisciplinary research opportunities in women's health that are available to the Scholars;
- to ensure, in a carefully mentored setting, the necessary protected time for both didactic learning and research training that will ultimately produce junior faculty members dedicated to women’s health who will be able to achieve research independence; and
- to increase institutional awareness about the various research opportunities in women's health that are currently available in many existing Departments, Centers, and Programs here at UNC.
The long-term objective of the UNC BIRCWH Program is: to improve the health of women in North Carolina, the nation, and the world by training the next generation of independent academic women's health researchers. We are confident that these young people will produce novel insights and interdisciplinary approaches to women's health, both from the research bench and from the bedside The ultimate goal of the program that we have developed is to promote interdisciplinary research and the transfer of findings that will be of benefit to women’s health.
The UNC BIRCWH program acts as a central focus and a catalytic agent for UNC researchers whose central focus is women's health. We continuously look for and catalog new programs in women's health research, locate senior faculty and potential Scholars who might have appropriate research interests, and identify potential resources that might be available to support further investigation in women's health. UNC is most fortunate to have a wealth of faculty members whose interdisciplinary research focus is women's health. These individuals like our Scholars have been selected from a broad cross-section of the overall UNC community with representation from each of the five Schools on the Health Affairs campus and a variety of other University Departments and Programs.
Current and Associate Scholars
The goal of the Program is achieved as we select, train, and mentor junior faculty members during their transition to research independence. We are confident that our BIRCWH Program will provide these young Scholars with exposure to research in a wide variety of issues related to women’s health and will help them to gain an appreciation for the importance of interdisciplinary research. Thus far we have had over 20 Scholars, and “graduates” often remain affiliated with the program as “Associates” and by becoming BIRCWH mentors.
Susan Pusek, MPH, MS