The University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) women’s health research career development program, Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) is a collaborative effort among UIC’s National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health (CoE), the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and UIC’s six health colleges: Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Applied Health Sciences, and the School of Public Health.
The overall goal of the UIC BIRCWH program is train a cadre of researchers to become independent investigators who use novel, interdisciplinary approaches to advance the science of women’s health and sex/gender-based research. In the first four years of our NIH-funded K12 institutional training grant, UIC BIRCWH has provided funding, protected time and structured mentoring to 10 junior faculty scholars. The program consists of a core and tailored curriculum, research training, mentoring (by a team of at least 2 senior researchers plus a member of the BIRCWH leadership team), individualized career planning, and a research project. Our scholars and mentors represent a diversity of disciplines from each of the six health colleges at UIC as well as our sister campus, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. BIRCWH focal areas include health and illness issues which are unique to women, more prevalent in women, or are different in women than in men. Health disparities are an underlying theme in much of the research on women’s health, regardless of level of analysis, reflecting the diverse urban environment in which UIC is situated. Whether research is at the basic science, clinical or community levels, the UIC BIRCWH program fosters an interdisciplinary approach to understanding women’s health and sex/gender determinants of health and disease.