BIRCWH: Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health

BIRCWH participants standing together at the end of year celebration.

Ursula Kaiser, MD, Program Director

Jill M. Goldstein, PhD, Multi-PI

Kathryn Rexrode, MD, MPH, Multi-PI

The Division of Women's Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital is the home site for the Harvard Medical School-wide award "Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH)" from the NIH. Entitled "Hormones and Genes in Women's Health: From Bench to Bedside," the BIRCWH program is a K12 training grant which supports scholars involved in investigating the role of hormones and genes in understanding sex differences in vulnerabilities to clinical disorders and those disorders specific to women. Socio-environmental factors modulating the impact of hormones and genes in understanding these sex-specific vulnerabilities may also be investigated. Scholars will be sponsored for up to three years of mentored research from Harvard faculty in basic, translational, or clinical aspects of women's health, and will combine, if applicable, clinical work in the scholar's specialty.

Women and men are at different risks for the onset, expression, course and treatment response for a number of disorders that occur at different stages of development and through aging. The mechanisms that explain many of these sex differences or disorders specific to women are still unclear. The mission of this BIRCWH program is to develop the next generation of scientists and scientist-clinicians as leaders in the field of women's health/sex differences in medicine who will contribute to understanding sex-specific or sex-dependent vulnerabilities to general medical and psychiatric disorders or disorders specific to women.

The work of BIRCWH scholars focuses on the impact of hormones and/or genes in understanding these vulnerabilities. The training is based on a translational approach and modeled in the context of a lifespan perspective to identify etiologic mechanisms during fetal development, puberty, adulthood, and aging, with some focus on periods specific to women such as child-bearing, perimenopause and menopause. Socio-environmental factors modulating the impact of hormones and genes in understanding these vulnerabilities may also be investigated. Scholar applicants can be preclinical, clinical, or translational investigators.

The Division of Women's Health is the home site for this endeavor in the broader context of a Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH)-wide training program. Scholars participating in this program represent a number of Harvard institutions including BWH, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), McLean Hospital, and HSPH. The program provides access to research and academic mentors at these institutions and a vast array of biomedical resources in the Harvard-affiliated system that will be used to address scientific questions essential to improving women's health and sex differences in medicine.

This training program accepts applications every few years from potential scholars for a full-time or part-time faculty position for a MD or PhD/ScD to develop an academic career in women's health. The next deadline to apply is June 15, 2023. Successful applicants will have prior relevant research training in research methodology, potential to obtain independent research funding, and evidence of publication in peer-reviewed journals. Faculty appointments will be at the Instructor or Assistant Professor level, commensurate with qualifications. Applications from women and minorities are highly encouraged and desired.

BIRCWH Award Details


BIRCWH Scholars' salary and fringe support is intended to offset only that portion of the salary that is devoted to research and career development. Each Scholar may be provided salary support up to $100,000 total costs, plus fringe benefits per grantee institutional policy, annually, to support at least 75% effort conducting research and research career development. It is necessary that other effort and salary support come from other sources, such as clinical activity, salary for teaching, or support from the mentor of from other non-federal funding sources.

Research and Career Development Support

Each BIRCWH Scholar will be awarded funds for research and career development support in the amount of $25,000. Research and career development costs may include the following expenses: (1) tuition and fees related to career development; (2) research expenses, such as supplies, equipment, and technical personnel; (3) travel to the annual BIRCWH meeting and other training or scientific meetings; (4) statistical services including consultant costs and computer time; and (5) other project infrastructure including relevant secondary data sets.

BIRCWH: Eligibility and Application

Eligibility Criteria

The BIRCWH scholar position is a junior faculty appointment, not a fellowship. At the time of the award, candidates for support as BIRCWH Scholars must:

  1. have a clinical doctorate or PhD degree or its equivalent;
  2. have completed any postgraduate training normally expected for a faculty appointment in their field (including clinical or postdoctoral fellowship training, or residency if they have chosen not to subspecialize);
  3. not have more than six years of research or research training experience beyond their last doctoral degree;
  4. identify a mentor with extensive research experience who will support the applicant for the remaining 25% of their salary if full-time;
  5. be able to spend at least of 75% of full-time professional effort conducting research and research career development;
  6. not be or have been a Principal Investigator on an R01, R29 or subproject of a Program Project (P01), Center (P50, P60, U54) grant, mentored career development (K-series) grants, or other equivalent research grant awards; except for R03 and R21;
  7. be a U.S. citizen or noncitizen national, or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence and possess an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-155) or some other verification of legal admission as a permanent citizen. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.

Application Requirements

  1. Six (6) page research proposal, excluding references. Font size must be at least Arial 11 point and margins must be no less than 1/2" on all sides. Include the following in the proposal:
    1. Specific Aims
    2. Background
    3. Preliminary Data, if available
    4. Experimental Design
  2. One-page career development plan
  3. Two written references - one from the primary mentor, and one additional reference letter
  4. Curriculum vitae
  5. Completed application form

Next application deadline: June 15, 2023

Send your full application to Mara Hampson:
One Brigham Circle, OBC3-34
1620 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02120

If you have any questions about the BIRCWH Program or application process, please contact Mara Hampson (

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