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The Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) Program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (UCSOM) provides career development to outstanding junior faculty members in key research specialties relevant to women’s health. The BIRCWH program’s aim is to provide bridging support to physician-scientists and scientists in the early stages of their professional careers so that they can achieve an independent research career. These junior faculty members are paired with senior investigators in a mentored, interdisciplinary scientific environment.

The BIRCWH grant at UCSOM focuses on three interrelated areas affecting women's health across the life span from preconception to aging.

    • Pregnancy, fetal programming, and lactation
    • Aging, cardiovascular (CV) disease, diabetes and obesity
    • Women's cancers

These are fields in which the UCSOM has strong interdisciplinary research programs, extending from molecular research into the basic mechanisms of disease through clinical studies to epidemiological analyses of etiology and outcomes.

Status Update

To date, 5 accomplished young researchers, at the UCSOM, are doing exciting research in key aspects of women’s health through the BIRCWH program (and 5 have graduated from the program). The progress they have made since entering the program is excellent. Thus far, the group has presented 9 abstracts at national meetings, published 18 articles, and 4 book chapters.  We also have a thorough and productive mentoring structure and interactions with other K12 programs that work on career development from additional viewpoints.  As a result of the Colorado BIRCWH, there are exciting and transformative developments occurring in interdisciplinary mentoring in women’s health.

Letter From The Director

The major accomplishment of the Colorado BIRCWH at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (UCSOM) to date is the choice of five very accomplished junior faculty researchers who are doing excellent research in key aspects of women’s health ranging from fetal programming to pediatric stroke to diabetes/metabolic disease. The progress they have made since entering the program is excellent. We also have a thorough and productive mentoring structure and interactions with other K12 programs that work on issues ranging from career development to scientific interaction.  As a result of the Colorado BIRCWH, there are exciting developments occurring in interdisciplinary mentoring in women’s health at UCSOM. One highlight is that the scholar’s individual advisory committee meets every 6 months. This meeting includes all of the scholar’s mentors as well as both the BIRCWH PI and co-PD and the other BIRCWH scholars. At this meeting, the BIRCWH Scholar gives a brief talk on their work in progress and then discussion is held around the presentation to make sure that the Scholar’s work and career are progressing in the best possible way.

In addition, having the BIRCWH grant has led to some new and exciting efforts including the Women’s Health Research Day.  Last October (2013) year will be our 6th annual event.  The Center for Women’s Health Research honors the BIRCWH Scholars at its annual luncheon as well. In addition, our annual Cardiovascular Women’s Health Symposium presents the latest in health care information to health care providers in the community.