BIRCWH Program

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program is an internal K12 grant mechanism from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health that fosters mentored research career development of junior faculty of either gender who are engaged in interdisciplinary women’s health or sex differences research. Research must be relevant to women’s health or sex/gender differences. Programs that address basic, translational, clinical, epidemiological, and health services research are encouraged to apply.
The aim of this training program is to place junior investigators on the path to be competitive for NIH independent K- or R- awards. Success of the program is judged by the number of trainees who go on to secure independent NIH K-awards and NIH R21 grants in the short term, and NIH R01, and R01 equivalent funding in the long term, for women’s health or sex differences research.

Grant Sponsors: NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Office of Research on Women's Health, and the National Institute on Aging Award Number: 4K12-HD055887-10

scholar funding

On Average UMN BIRCWH Scholars receive $850,787 in federal, internal and other funding within the first 5 years post-award.

Award Information

  • 75% (50% Surgeon) salary support (up to $100,000 inclusive of fringe), $25,000 in research and career development support per year
  • Appointment is for three years contingent on satisfactory performance 
  • Up to three scholars are awarded at one time
  • Assistant Professor (in rank ≤ 6 years; Have no more than six years of research or research training experience beyond their last doctoral degree)

We are accepting Letters of Intent (LOI) at this time.

Full Request of LOI:

PDF icon 2018_bircwh_request_for_loi.pdf

Please email with any questions.


LOI/Application Details

LOI/Application Details



Announcement Date:    May 1, 2018

LOI Deadline:                July 2, 2018

Application Deadline:    September 17, 2018
                                                    (by invitation only)

Award Notification:       November 1, 2018

Start Date:                    March 1, 2019


Letter of Intent 

Phase I – Request for Letters of Intent (LOI)

The BIRCWH Leadership Team announces a request for Letters of Intent from eligible junior faculty interested in applying for the University of Minnesota Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) K12 Scholar Training Program. Letters of Intent are due on July 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm.  Selected applicants will be invited by the BIRCWH Leadership to complete a full application contingent on NIH funding approval for BIRCWH Program.


LOI Submission Guideline

The LOIs should be no more than two pages in length and include the following:

  • Scholar name, Academic Rank, Department/Division, School/College
  • Potential mentoring team, including Academic Rank, Department/Division, School/College of each team member
  • Project title & research area being addressed by this study
  • Draft aims and significance of research
  • Brief explanation of background and interest in women’s health and/or sex differences research
  • Scholar’s curriculum vitae (not included in page maximum)
  • Submissions should be sent in one PDF file to by 4:00 pm on July 2, 2018. 

Application Form 

Phase II – Invitation to Submit Full Application

Applicants who meet eligibility and selection criteria will be invited to submit a full application for consideration for BIRCWH Scholar funding.  Application instructions and documents will be sent out with the invitation to submit a full application.


  1. Be junior faculty (Assistant Professor in rank ≤ 6 years and have < 6 years of research experience or research training beyond last doctoral degree), who has the potential to establish their own funded research programs in women’s health and/or sex differences.  Applicants must have paid faculty appointments (rank of Assistant Professor) at the University of Minnesota or a signed offer letter indicating their appointment at the time of application.
  2. 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 sub-specialize).
  3. Be able to spend 75% (50% for surgical-specialties) of full-time professional effort conducting research and research career development activities as a BIRCWH K12 scholar. Department or school must provide commitment to protected time and evidence that the scholar will be given adequate research space and all appropriate infrastructure support to complete research projects successfully.
  4. United States citizen or permanent resident.
  5. Research areas of interest can be basic, translational, clinical, epidemiological, or health services research that relate to women’s health and/or sex differences.
  6. Hold a clinical doctorate or PhD degree or its equivalent (e.g., MD, DO, DDS, DVM, OD, DC, PharmD).
  7. No previous record as a principal investigator on an R01 or subproject of a Program Project (P01), Center Grant (P50, P60, P20, P30, U54), independent mentored career development grants (K-series), or other equivalent research grant awards or career development awards. Those serving as PI of an NIH R03 and R21 grant are eligible to apply for this K12 award.
  8. Have three interprofessional mentors  with evidence of research experience (current and past) and track record of trainees at the rank of Associate Professor or higher
    1. Primary mentor (must be a Full Professor at the University of Minnesota)
    2. Secondary mentors, at least two (Associate or Full Professor rank at the University of Minnesota)
    3. At least one mentor must have statistical expertise
    4. Please visit for a list of NIH-approved mentors. Other mentors can be proposed but must be approved by BIRCWH Program Co-Directors and NIH. Please contact Kait Macheledt at or 612-273-9715 if you have any questions regarding your mentoring team.

Reporting and Other Requirements

  1. Participants are required to apply for independent research grant support by the end of the second year (NIH K or R series award; or foundational research funding from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, or equivalent). NIH requires that BIRCWH salary support be reduced by that amount when a scholar receives extramural funding but scholars may still participate in the training and mentoring aspects of the BIRCWH program, if they so desire.
  2. Submit progress reports twice per year, updated career development research plans, and participate in an exit interview upon completion of the program.  Participate in semi-annual reviews with mentors and BIRCWH leadership team.  Continued availability of awarded funds will be contingent on the annual progress report and review.
  3. Participate in all required BIRCWH program activities including, but not limited to, annual national BIRCWH meeting, Interdisciplinary Advisory Committee meetings, BIRCWH seminars, CTSI KL2 Career Development seminars, mentoring and other special workshops, grant writing program, BIRCWH journal club, workshops and seminars with regional and national BIRCWH programs, local women’s health research conferences,  career development courses and seminars, annual reports, etc.
  4. At the conclusion of the BIRCWH appointment, participate in an exit interview and a meeting with the BIRCWH leadership team, primary mentor, and department chair to discuss transition plans.
  5. BIRCWH alumni are requested to provide annual updates of submitted and funded grants and publications and participate in mentoring current BIRCWH scholars.
  6. All work conducted under the auspices of this appointment must acknowledge the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) and participating NIH institutes and centers.
  7. During the funding period, the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Scholar is expected to use the name of the appointment in their title in correspondence and in other communications, e.g., Jane Doe, PhD, 2018-2021 Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Scholar.
  8. One award will be available in this funding cycle
  9. 75% salary support (50% for surgical-specialties) (up to $100,000 inclusive of fringe) for protected time for women’s health and/or sex differences research career development for 2-3 years based on satisfactory progress.  $25,000 per year for three years in research funds for technical assistance and/or supplies to assist in obtaining data.  Travel funds to attend the national BIRCWH conference and one other national conference must be covered out of Scholars’ allocated research funds.
  10. Carry forward of research funds after the end of the award is not allowed per NIH guidelines.
  11. Support is in the form of two consecutive 12-month appointments (evaluated annually), and renewable for up to one more year (three years total), depending on funding availability. Appointment renewal is contingent upon satisfactory progress as determined by the BIRCWH Interdisciplinary Advisory Committee and reported to the NIH in the annual progress report of the Program. Scholars are encouraged to apply for independent research grant support during the period of BIRCWH (K-12) support period, and are allowed concurrent salary support only while in the last two years when in compliance with NIH Policy Notice, NOT-OD-04-007 (
  12. For Scholars on a 9-month appointment, the expectation is that they will work 75% on the BIRCWH grant 11 months out of the year with one month for vacation (comparable to 12-month appointment). Therefore, in addition to covering 75% of the 9-month salary, the BIRCWH will provide 75% of 2/9 of the 9-month salary to cover the summer months.
  13. In order to accommodate the needs of those interested in participating in this program that may have had a career hiatus because of family responsibilities, uniformed service, etc., there is no absolute limit on time elapsed since completion of training. At the time of their application, scholars must have less than six years of research/training experience beyond their last doctoral degree.


Selection Criteria


  1. Background and potential for a successful academic research career in women’s health and/or sex differences research
    1. Demonstrate commitment to interdisciplinary women’s health and/or sex differences research
    2. Previous research and academic experience
    3. Long-term career plan with milestones for later evaluation by interdisciplinary advisory committee
    4. A 3-year career development and training plan with support of a mentoring team
    5. Proposed research theme within a specific content area including significance and innovation of proposed project and its potential for future funding
    6. Plan for interacting with mentors


  1. Commitment of 75% protected time for the scholar (50% for surgical-specialties)
  2. Plan for integration of the scholar into the unit’s activities


Mentoring Team:

  1. Timeline with milestones for career development of the scholar
  2. Interprofessional nature of team
  3. Team’s plans for interaction with scholar
  4. Integration with the mentoring team’s professional activities
  5. Adequacy of content, methodology, and statistical expertise and each team member’s involvement in the proposal

Primary Mentor:

  1. Plan for a long-term career path for the candidate
  2. Experience with research theme proposed by the candidate
  3. Plans for interaction with scholar and integration with mentoring team
  4. Strong NIH funding record (current and past)
  5. Strong research publication record
  6. Previous and current mentoring experience and success

Supporting mentors:

  1. Experience with research theme and/or methodology
  2. Plans for interaction and career development of scholar
  3. Previous and current mentoring experience and success
  4. Listing of NIH funding record (current and past) and publication record

Contact Information

If you would like to learn more about the BIRCWH program, please contact Kait Macheledt at to schedule a meeting with a BIRCWH leadership team member.



Current/ Past Scholars

Current/ Past Scholars


Current Scholars

Deanna Teoh, MD
Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Minnesota Medical School


Dr. Teoh's proposed research as a BIRCWH Scholar focuses on optimizing adherence to the current cervical cancer screening guidelines. Her objectives are to determine adherence rates to the 2012 cervical cancer screening guidelines, identify barriers to healthcare provider adherence, and to engage healthcare providers to implement and evaluate a system to improve adherence to the guidelines. Her current and past research focuses on improving patient outcomes specifically in women with gynecologic cancers or pre-malignant conditions.

Full bio

Britt Erickson, MD
Assistant Professor, Gynecologic Oncologist

Dr. Erickson has designed a research project, with mentored input from faculty specialists in gynecologic oncology, which is intended to provide insight into potential mechanisms of altered hormone signaling in type I endometrial cancer. Specifically, Dr. Erickson and her colleagues will investigate the role of cooperating steroid hormone receptors (progesterone, androgen and glucocorticoid) in endometrial cancer. They aim to define the complete SR status (ER, PR, AR and GR expression) in type I endometrial cancer as well as determine if selected SRs, modified SRS, and/or their key target genes may be biomarkers that could predict response to anti-estrogen or progesterone therapy.

Full bio

Sarah Hoffman, PhD, MPH, MSN, RN-BC
Assistant Professor


Dr. Hoffman has designed a research project, with mentored input from faculty specialists in public health and nursing, which is intended to identify underlying factors associated with the intergenerational transmission of trauma in Karen refugee women and families. Dr. Hoffman and her colleagues plan to take a mixed methods/behavioral intervention design to data collection. They will compare patterns of family functioning and youth adjustment in Karen refugee families where mothers experienced torture versus war trauma alone, identify how mothers disclose torture and war trauma experiences to their youth and describe associations between maternal exposure to torture/trauma, maternal communication style, family function, and child adjustment.

Full bio

Past Scholars

Rebekah Nagler, PhD
Assistant Professor, School of Journalism & Mass Communication

BIRCWH Award Period: 2014-2017

Award Research Focus: Effects of Media Exposure to Cancer Screening Controversy: A Mixed-Methods Study

Full bio

Susan Marshall Mason, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor Epidemiology and Community Health, Division of


BIRCWH Award Period: 2013-2017 

Award Research focus: Psychological and Behavioral Mechanisms Linking Abuse Victimization to Obesity

Full bio

Alicia Allen, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences

(612) 624-0896

BIRCWH Award : 2014-2016 

Award Research Focus: Effects of smoking on Stress-Induced Allopregnanolone responses in women by Menstrual Phase

Full bio

Anne Blaes, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine

BIRCWH Award Period: 2013-2016

Award Research Focus: Vascular Assessment in Breast Cancer Survivors Taking Aromatase Inhibitors

Full bio

Katy B. Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA
Associate Professor, Health Policy


BIRCWH Award Period:2011-2014 Award Research Focus: Measuring Quality and Evaluating Strategies for the Care of Women with Diabetes in Pregnancy

Full bio

Kristine M. Talley, PhD, APRN, GNP-BC
Associate Professor, Adult and Gerontological Health, School of Nursing


BIRCWH Award Period: 2011-2014

Award Research Focus: Disability Prevention in Frail Older Women

Full bio

Bharat Thyagarajan, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Lab Medicine and Pathology, Medical School


BIRCWH Award Period:2011-2013

Award Research Focus:The Role of Mitochondria in Determining Breast Cancer Susceptibility

Full bio

Daheia Barr-Anderson, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Behavioral Aspects of Physical Activity

BIRCWH Award Period: 2010-2011 

Award Research Focus:A Tailored Physical Activity and Health Eating Intervention for African-American Girls

Full bio

Jerica Berge, PhD, MPH, LMFT
Assiociate Professor, University of Minnesota


BIRCWH Award Period:2008-2011 

Award Research Focus:Family and home environment in adolescent obesity: predictors and interventions

Full bio

Rahel Ghebre, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, University of Minnesota

BIRCWH Award Period: 2008-2011 

Award Research Focus: Feasibility of Home Self-collection for Cervical Cancer Screening Utilizing Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA Testing

Full bio

Susanta Hui, PhD
Associate Professor, University of Minnesota


BIRCWH Award Period: 2008-2011 

Award Research Focus:A Novel Long-lived 41 CA Marker to Assess Bone Turnover for Breast Cancer Patients Treated with Aromatase Inhibitor and Bisphosphonate Drugs

Full bio

Carolyn M. Porta, PhD, MPH, RN SANE-A
Associate Professor, University of Minnesota


BIRCWH Award Period:2008-2011

Award Research Focus:Coping Intervention with Latina Adolescents

Full bio

Vishal Lamba, PhD

No Results