VCU Institute for Women's Health
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Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) was developed to promote the career development of independent researchers working on women's health issues by pairing scholars with senior investigators in a mentored, interdisciplinary scientific environment.

The VCU School of Medicine is the recipient of an NIH–sponsored Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Program. The $2.5 million career–development program provides Ph.D and M.D. junior faculty, BIRCWH Scholars, with nurturing, interdisciplinary training and in–depth mentoring to enable them to develop independent research programs in broad areas relevant to women’s health, particularly as it relates to cancer, neuroscience, metabolism and maternal health.
The Institute for Women’s Health is committed to supporting BIRCWH through participation   on the advisory committee, responsible for reviewing the activities of the Scholars and their mentors.  Additionally, BIRCWH Scholars are showcased at the Annual Women’s Health Research Day hosted by the Institute each spring.

Current BIRCWH Scholars

Keith D. Baker, PhD, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
He received his graduate degree in cellular regulation from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He has completed postdoctoral fellowships at Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology and at the University of Utah School of Medicine in the Department of Human Genetics. Using the fruit fly as a model system, his BIRCWH research project examines the role of the estrogen-related receptor in hypoxia and in cellular bioenergetic decision-making.

Amelia Grover, MD, Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology
She received her medical degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and her residency at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. She completed a research fellowship at the University Of Michigan. Her BIRCWH research project examines the modifications that can silence gene expression and ways to prevent these in order to prevent the development of cancer.

Briana Mezuk, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Community Health
She completed her doctoral training in psychiatric epidemiology from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. From 2007 to 2009, she was a fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program at the University of Michigan where she became involved research on social disparities in health. Her research centers on understanding the interrelationships between mental and physical health in later life, particularly related to metabolic conditions. Her BIRCWH project is focused on understanding the intersections between depression, antidepressant use and frailty among older adults.

Kazuaki Takabe, MD, PhD, Division of Surgical Oncology, VCU Massey Cancer Center
He received his medical degree from Niigata University School of Medicine, Niigata City, Japan. He was awarded the Ph.D. degree in Gastroenterology and Endocrinology from Yokohama City University, Yokohama City, Japan and did post-doctoral training at the University of California, Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. He completed general surgery training at the University of California, San Diego, CA and a Surgical Oncology fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University, MCV Campus, Richmond, VA. His BIRCWH research project explores the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the novel lipid mediator, sphingosine-1-phosphate in the regulation of cell growth, motility, prevention of apoptosis, angiogenesis and its role in breast cancer.

Visit the School of Medicine site for a program overview, goals, curriculum, eligibility, application process and contact information: SCHOOL OF MEDICINE BIRCWH overview



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last updated: January 22, 2015