This is an exciting time for women's health research in our country. New opportunities for research and funding have emerged in the last decade and continue to grow. NIH-supported research training and career development initiatives at UTMB include the NIH BIRCWH K12 research career program for assistant professors and the NIH/NRSA T32 postdoctoral program.
The Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Program (BIRCWH K12) was obtained in 2005. The NIH renewed the program for a 3rd cycle of funding in September 2015. This program provides 75% salary support and protected time for 2 assistant professors to participate in mentored research experiences in women’s health. Unlike the other K12 programs at UTMB that limit eligibility to candidates with MD degrees or from a single discipline, the UTMB BIRCWH program accepts faculty applicants with MD, MD/PhD, and PhD degrees from a wide range of disciplines. The BIRCWH program seeks to develop investigators from many training backgrounds, who will be comfortable and productive in interdisciplinary research teams. The program has trained 16 BIRCWH Scholars to date and is in its 11th year of funding.
The NIH/NRSA T32 has supported 21 postdoctoral fellows during 10 years of funding (2008-2018). The T32 program in women’s reproductive health supports postdoctoral fellows for a 2 year appointment. Now in its 10th year, most of this program’s former participants have advanced in academic standing and many have achieved sponsored support for their research activities.Of the 17 former postdoctoral fellows who participated in the program from 2008-2017, 65% remain in academia and 53% have obtained tenure-track faculty positions at UTMB, UTHSC Houston, UT El Paso, University of Florida Jacksonville, University of Illinois Chicago, Perdue University, Iowa State University, and Xavier University of Louisiana. In addition, 75% of former postdoctoral fellows from Cycle 1 (2008-2013) who are now in faculty positions have been successful in obtaining extramural funding as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator. Equally impressive is that, during the 10 years of the program, 20 postdoctoral fellows published 70 articles in 41 peer-reviewed journals and had 64 abstracts accepted for poster presentations at national meetings.
The Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health will continue its efforts to develop and enhance this field by providing postdoctoral fellows with travel and stipend supplementation, developing new collaborations of scientists, and providing awareness of funding opportunities in women's health.