BIRCWH Information

The Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program is a National Institute of Health funded initiative developed by the Office of Research on Women's Health. Generally, the BIRCWH program is designed to foster impactful relationships between mentors and junior faculty with a particular emphasis on developing scientists especially effective at emphasizing sex and gender in their research questions and designs. The Institute for Women's Health at VCU is one of 19 BIRCWH host sites and helps provide administrative leadership for effective implementation of BIRCWH program aims. 

At VCU, BIRCWH leadership strive to create mentorship scaffolding for scholars and to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations, ultimately fostering the growth and development of early to mid-career researchers interested in advancing women's health research through interdisciplinary collaborations. BIRCWH at VCU strives to help cultivate scholars with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle complex women's health issues from various angles, encouraging innovative research, and improved outcomes.

Key Components:

  1. Research Focus: Participants are expected to focus on women's health research with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Projects should address pressing issues related to women's health, with a focus on disparities, prevention, or innovative treatments.

  2. Mentorship: Each participant will be paired with a mentor experienced in women's health research. Mentors will provide guidance, support, and expertise to help participants develop their research skills and networks.

  3. Collaboration Initiatives: To encourage interdisciplinary research, participants will be actively encouraged to collaborate with colleagues from various fields and disciplines, both within and outside of the program.

  4. Funding Opportunities: The program will provide help acquiring funding for pilot research projects, which will serve as a stepping stone for larger NIH grant applications. These pilot projects should demonstrate the feasibility and innovation of interdisciplinary research in women's health.

  5. IWH Annual Conference: BIRCWH scholars will be encouraged to participate in, and highlighted during, the annual IWH conference. 

What Makes VCU BIRCWH Unique

The BIRCWH program at VCU is housed within the IWH, an especially rich environment for collaboration, mentorship, and research development. IWH leadership are well respected scientists in their prospective fields of study and the organization hosts over 160 affiliate faculty members, providing BIRCWH scholars with a rich and diverse network of collaborators. IWH also organizes research development groups, an annual conference spotlighting women's health research, and has grant development and implementation expertise all at VCU BIRCWH scholars disposal.