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 not accepting applications at this time.


Please email with any questions.




Application Form 
We are not accepting applications at this time. 


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

  • Have a clinical doctorate or Ph.D. degree or its equivalent;
  • 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);
  • Have no more than six years of research or research training experience beyond their last doctoral degree  However, 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 limit on time elapsed since completion of training;
  • Identify mentors with extensive research experience;
  • Be able to spend at least 9 person months (or at least 6 person months for surgical-specialties) of full-time professional effort conducting research and research career development activities;
  • Not be or have been a PD/PI on an R01, R29 or subproject of a Program Project (P01), Center (P50, P60, U54) grant, independent mentored career development (K-series) grants, or other equivalent research grant awards; except for R03 and R21;
  • 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.


  1. Have at least 75% protected (50% for Surgeons) time for up to three years of the award to conduct the proposed research.
  2. Devote a minimum of 9 person-months per year during appointment period
  3. Interprofessional mentoring team of at least 3 including:
    • Primary mentor (must be at the University of Minnesota)
    • Secondary mentors, at least two
    • At least one mentor must have statistical and methodological expertise.
  4. Submit six-month reports and annual progress report at year one, year two, and a final progress report upon completion of the program. Participate in annual review with mentors and BIRCWH leadership team. Continued availability of awarded funds will be contingent on the annual progress report and review.
  5. Participate in all required BIRCWH program activities including, but not limited to, annual WHRP/BIRCWH meeting, required weekly seminars, mentoring workshop, grant writing program, WHRP journal club, UMN/Mayo Clinic BIRCWH Leadership workshops, the Annual Women’s Health Research Conference, courses, seminars, annual reports, etc
  6. BIRCWH alumni are expected to provide annual updates of submitted and funded grants and publications and participate in mentoring current BIRCWH scholars.

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

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