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Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health

Program Requirements

BIRCWH Scholars are required to attend courses and activities that will give them a strong background for developing independent research careers in women’s health.  Five courses and two journal clubs are required of all scholars.  If a Scholar has already taken a required course before entering the BIRCWH program, he/she may request a replacement for the course(s). 

The Advisory Committee, program directors, and/or Scholar mentors may recommend that the Scholar take other courses, participate in other activities, or pursue additional training to gain new skills or knowledge relevant to their research. Scholars may also take part in elective courses and career development activities to further develop their research expertise.


A. Integrated Courses:

The following courses are offered through the Mentored Clinical Research Training Program (MCRTP) and attended by scholars in other CTSC and SOM research training programs. BIRCWH Scholar participation must be arranged through the BIRCWH Program Coordinator.

1. Responsible Conduct of Research (Summer or Fall)
This course includes the nine NIH-mandated modules: Data Acquisition and Reporting, Mentor Training, Publication Practices and Authorship, Peer Review/Grant Process, Collaborative Science, Human Subjects, Research with Animals, Conflict of Interest/Commitment, and Research Misconduct.  A tenth module, Entrepreneurship/ Industry Collaborations/Intellectual Property/Technology Transfer has been added.  The goals of this course are to provide students with information about each topic, and to encourage open debate and discussion regarding the many gray areas in research conduct that exist.

2. Strategies for Grant Writing (Summer)
This course provides scholars with the skills and strategies to write a successful career development proposal and eventually an RO1 equivalent.  The course will combine interactive presentations with assignments that will result in a completed proposal by the end of the summer.

3. Introduction to Clinical Epidemiology and Study Design (one week intensive course in July) 

or Introduction to Clinical Research (Summer)
or Methods in Clinical Research (Summer)

4. Introduction to Medical Statistics (Summer) 

or Statistical Analysis of Laboratory Data (Fall)
or Biostatistics for Clinical Research (Winter)
or Biostatistical Methods for Epidemiology and Population Based Studies (Spring)

5. Advanced Strategies in Grant Writing (Winter)

B. Journal Clubs:

1. Bi-weeklyTranslational Research Journal Club: Critical Assessment of the Biomedical Literature (Fall, Winter and Spring)
This integrated journal club is designed to expose Scholars to topical issues and controversies in the design of interdisciplinary translational research, with an emphasis on critical assessment of the biomedical and health sciences literature. Scholars are assigned in either Section 1 (T1 research) or Section 2 (T2 research), but may “cross over” to participate in the other section, by prior arrangement with the instructors. Each section meets every other week each quarter, except Summer. This journal club is attended by scholars in other CTSC and SOM research training programs.

2. Monthly BIRCWH Journal Club
 This BIRCWH-specific journal club focuses on research issues, including women’s health. Attendance is required for all Scholars and mentors are encouraged to participate.  Each month, one BIRCWH scholar is assigned to lead the meeting which is organized by Drs. Gold and Lane (Co-Research Directors). Scholars have the option of either leading a journal club meeting in which they critically review current papers in the primary literature, or conducting a seminar for their fellow scholars. This format allows the Scholars to interact on an informal basis, and teaches them to: (1) evaluate experimental design, (2) assess the validity of conclusions, and (3) fit new experimental findings into the body of literature.

C. Other Required Activities:

Required integrated activities with other research training programs are offered to broaden the exposure of BIRCWH Scholars to other research trainees and mentors, and provide opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration, networking, and peer mentoring. BIRCWH program-specific activities promote interactions with other BIRCWH scholars and mentors and foster strong support networks and research collaborations among women’s health researchers. 

1. Monthly integrated BIRCWH/K12 Works-in-Progress Meeting
This monthly works-in-progress meeting is held jointly with the CTSC K12 program to enhance interdisciplinary awareness and the potential for multidisciplinary collaboration. Attendance is required for all Scholars and mentors are encouraged to participate.  Each month, one BIRCWH scholar and one K12 scholar are assigned to present their works-in-progress at this meeting which is organized by Drs. Gold and Lane (Co-Research Directors) and Dr. Kravitz (BIRCWH IAB member and K12 Program Director).  The meetings provide an opportunity for scholars to discuss their study designs, manuscripts or grants in-preparation, and get feedback from their colleagues. In addition, scholars may also practice oral presentations for national meetings in a supportive environment that allows them to be evaluated in terms of organization, clarity and effectiveness of visual materials.

2. Monthly BIRCWH Breakfast Meetings with the Vice Chancellor/Dean
Vice Chancellor/Dean Pomeroy (BIRCWH PI) hosts monthly breakfast meetings with the BIRCWH Scholars and their mentors to hear about their progress and provide feedback and support. These meetings provide direct access for the Scholars to senior administration.

3. Quarterly Integrated Scholar Research Presentations (two-hour meetings) 
Quarterly research progress presentations bring scholars and mentors in the MCRTP, T32 and BIRCWH programs together to present research, give feedback and share ideas.  Scholars are expected to attend all quarterly meetings, and are assigned to present their research 1-2 times during the year.

4. Annual Integrated CTSA Training Programs Retreat (two day event in Spring)
This annual event includes mandatory participation of scholars in seven training programs, as well as trainees participating in CTSC pilot projects.  Scholars present short research presentations to an audience of fellow scholars, mentors and the CTSC Education External Advisory Board.  Scholars receive individual feedback from the members of the board.

5. Annual Northern California BIRCWH Symposium (one day event)
An annual symposium will be held featuring BIRCWH Scholar research presentations to participants in the UC Davis and other Northern California BIRCWH programs.  This event provides an opportunity for networking with other BIRCWH scholars and helps to build a regional community of women’s health researchers.

6. Annual BIRCWH Scholar Meeting and Interdisciplinary Women’s Health Research Symposium, Bethesda, MD (2-3 day event in November)
This meeting is attended by scholars and program leadership.  Scholars are expected to prepare and present research posters each year.

7. Annual BIRCWH Internal and External Advisory Board Meetings
Scholars attend a portion of one IAB and one EAB meeting each year to present their research and career development progress to board members.


The following courses are offered through the Mentored Clinical Research Training Program (MCRTP) and attended by scholars in other CTSC and SOM research training programs.

  • Team Science (Spring)
  • MCRTP Workshops (offered throughout academic year)
  • MCRTP Quarterly Hot Topics Seminars (offered throughout academic year)
  • CTSC Career Development and Scientific Seminar Series (offered throughout academic year)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health Grand Rounds (8:00 AM, Wednesdays)
  • Annual Clinical and Translational Research and Education Meeting, Washington, D.C.
    (held in Spring)