BIRCWH at VCU
The VCU Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program is an NIH K12 award sponsored by the Office of Research on Women's Health that provides a structured environment that promotes the development of junior faculty researchers into independent scientists with a commitment to interdisciplinary research benefitting the health and well-being of women across the lifespan. The BIRCWH Program supports promising early-career faculty candidates by implementing a novel, interdisciplinary mentoring approach matching scholars with a team of mentors who bring varied perspectives to the scholars’ research and career development. Toward this effort, BIRCWH scholars, with collaborative guidance from their mentors, design and implement a structured, personalized education and training plan to help develop scholars knowledgeable about women’s health and sex/gender influences who are proficient in study design and conduct, data analysis, and publication. Another key feature of the BIRCWH program is to connect scholars with other researchers and clinicians from across VCU as well as from other universities and with community partners to encourage interdisciplinary, scientifically rigorous, clinically relevant research on women’s health and sex/gender differences. With a focus on five research areas including Cancer, Maternal-Child Health, Mental Health and Addiction, Neuro-Musculoskeletal Health, and Obesity and Cardiovascular Health, the program leverages the expertise of VCU’s exceptional women’s health researchers to train junior faculty in areas that are particularly relevant to women and the study of sex/gender influences on health.
The VCU BIRCWH Program is directed by an interdisciplinary team of internationally acclaimed women’s health researchers and administratively housed in the VCU Institute for Women’s Health, providing an environment that supports sex/gender-focused training and research that transcends any single school or discipline. VCU has a long-standing commitment to women’s health research and practice and IWH has a coordinated agenda to train interdisciplinary researchers. The VCU BIRCWH Program provides a unique setting to develop a new generation of interdisciplinary investigators trained to improve women’s health by better understanding the role of sex and gender in disease risk, clinical manifestations, treatment, and outcomes as well as in health and health care delivery.