The purpose of Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health in Pittsburgh (BIRCWH @ Pitt) program is to equip talented University of Pittsburgh faculty Scholars to be independent investigators in interdisciplinary research in women’s health. The program encompasses basic, translational, behavioral, clinical, and health services research in reproductive sciences and women’s health, spanning embryonic life to advanced age.

We are now accepting applications through March 1, 2019 for appointment start date of June 1, 2019.

Eligibility

At the time of the appointment, BIRCWH Scholar candidates must:

  • Have a clinical doctorate, or a PhD 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 (candidates who have had a career hiatus for special circumstances may be exceptions, please inquire with the program coordinator)
  • Hold, or be scheduled to start a faculty appointment within the University of Pittsburgh’s six Schools of the Health Sciences (Grad School of Public Health, School of Dental Medicine, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Pharmacy).
  • 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.

New Scholar appointments begin as current scholars transition off of the program. The program maintains funding for three Scholars at a time.

 

Program Structure

Scholars, who are supported for a minimum of two years, take advantage of the extraordinary environment at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences and Magee-Womens Research Institute as they work with a personalized mentorship team and supportive program advisory committee members to develop a research program that is not only relevant to the Scholar’s research interests in women’s health, but will serve as the foundation for the Scholar’s independence. Key activities in the program include:

  • Conducting interdisciplinary research in women’s health, executing experiments, analyzing and preparing data for publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentation at local and national venues
  • Engaging with a dedicated mentorship team to achieve research and career development goals
  • Undergoing didactic education in research methodology, design, and the ethical conduct of research
  • Meeting monthly with the PD and BIRCWH scholars to discuss professional development, work-life balance, strengthening mentoring relationships
  • Attending advisory committee meetings (every 2 months) to assess progress and mentorship, and to discuss plans and future goals
  • Participating in regular (weekly) MWRI conferences and in special events, such as Grant-in-Progress Meetings, MWRI’s Annual Research Day, and the BIRCWH National Meeting at the NIH

Scholar Support

1 – Scholar salary: The BIRCWH program will provide salary support for 75% of a scholar’s salary up to $100,000 total costs, plus fringe benefits, annually. If the Scholar’s salary exceeds available NIH funding, the Scholar’s home department must supplement the BIRCWH salary contribution to a level that is consistent with that department’s salary scale. Departmental supplementation of a salary cannot require duties or responsibilities that would interfere with the purpose of BIRCWH or the requirement that 75% effort be spent on women’s health research or related career development activities. (Note: BIRCWH research effort may be reduced to 50% FTE for faculty in surgical specialties such as general surgery, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, etc.)

2 – Scholars’ research and professional development: The BIRCWH program provides $25,000 to support research and career development, which may include the following expenses: Research expenses, such as supplies, equipment, core research services and technical personnel ($22,905); tuition and fees related to career development ($595); and travel to one training or scientific meeting per year ($1,500). Additional funds are provided for Scholars to attend the annual BIRCWH Meeting at the NIH.

3 – Other support: The department supporting the candidate must be able to demonstrate a commitment to the development of the candidate as a productive, independent investigator. The candidate’s department must agree to protect 75% of the Scholar’s time for the BIRCWH project (50% allowable for surgical specialties), and cover any of her/his salary and necessary research expenses in excess of the NIH limit. This agreement is needed to ensure that the scholar has a salary commensurate to that of other junior faculty in the relevant department, to ensure provision of the appropriate technical support and supplies necessary to establish a productive research program, and to ensure that the total funds allocated to support each young investigator are within the program guidelines. In addition to salary and protected research time, the department must provide office space and appropriate research space for the Scholar.

Research

At least 75% of the recipient’s full-time effort must be dedicated to the goals of this award. The remainder may be devoted to clinical or teaching responsibilities or to other research efforts. Because of the focus on progression to independence as a researcher, candidates must propose a period of study and career development consistent with his or her previous research experience. This may include exploratory activities to incorporate areas of scientific interests outside the candidate’s immediate area of specialization; that is, the development of a multi-disciplinary research program. The candidate and the mentor are jointly responsible for the preparation of the plan for this program. Preference will be given to candidates who demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach to women’s health research.

Mentorship

Each Scholar’s mentorship team will consist of one primary mentor and at least two supporting mentors. The Scholar will work with the primary mentor to submit the application’s research plan and budget. There will be at least one other research mentor with an interest in a relevant scientific discipline different than that of the primary mentor, thus enhancing the interdisciplinary aspects of the research plan. A third member of the mentoring team serves mainly as a career mentor. The BIRCWH Advisory Committee may assist the Scholar in assembling the mentoring team.

Progress review meetings between Scholars and primary mentors will occur, on average, no less frequently then every two weeks. Meetings with the full mentoring committee of primary and supporting mentors will occur at least 3 times per year and scholars must provide a written summary of the team meetings to the Advisory Committee. Under the guidance of their mentors, each Scholar will develop a detailed research plan that includes a rich curriculum of course work and seminars, adjusted to their level of training. Scholars will execute experiments, analyze and prepare data for publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentation at local and national venues. Importantly, Scholars will work with their mentors and BIRCWH advisory committee to prepare and submit an independent research proposal.

A list of program mentors is provided below. However, additional mentors can be added based upon project needs, with the advisory committee’s approval. The mentor should be recognized as an accomplished investigator in the proposed research area and have a successful record in training independent investigators.

BIRCWH @ Pitt Program Mentors

Yoel Sadovsky, MD Executive Director, Magee-Womens Research Institute

Professor of OBGYN-RS, and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

School of Medicine

Steve Abramowitch, PhD Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Lisa Bodnar, PhD Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Psychiatry and OBGYN-RS

Graduate School of Public Health

Michael Boninger, MD Senior Medical Director for Post-Acute Care for the Health Service Division of UPMC and Vice President for Medical Affairs for Community Provider Services

Vice-Chair and Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

School of Medicine

Sonya Borrero, MD, MS Director, Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation

Associate Professor of Medicine

School of Medicine

Daniel Buysse, MD UPMC Endowed Chair in Sleep Medicine

Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine

Anthony Delitto, PT, PhD Dean and Professor of Physical Therapy

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Terence Dermody, PhD Physician-in-Chief and Scientific Director, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Vira I. Heinz Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics

School of Medicine

Heidi Donovan, PhD, RN Professor of Health & Community Systems and Vice Chair, Research

School of Nursing

Francesca Facco, MD Assistant Professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences

School of Medicine

Mark Gladwin, MD Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine Director, Vascular Medicine Institute

School of Medicine

Sharon Hillier, PhD Professor of OBGYN-RS and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

School of Medicine

Adrian Lee, PhD Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology

School of Medicine

Mellissa Mann, PhD Associate Professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences

School of Medicine

Mary Marazita, PhD Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Oral Biology

Director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics

School of Dental Health

Karen Matthews, PhD Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, and Psychology

School of Medicine

Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD Professor of Pediatrics

Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine

School of Medicine

Pamela Moalli, MD, PhD Professor of OBGYN-RS and Bioengineering

School of Medicine

Ann B. Newman, MD, MPH Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology

Director Center for Aging and Population Health

Graduate School of Public Health

Kyle Orwig, PhD Professor of OBGYN-RS, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and Developmental Biology

Director, Molecular Genetics & Developmental Biology Program

School of Medicine

James Roberts, MD Professor of OBGYN-RS and Epidemiology

School of Medicine

Lisa Rohan PhD Professor of Pharmaceutical Science and OBGYN-RS

School of Pharmacy

Gerald Schatten, PhD Professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences

School of Medicine

Sanjeev Shroff, PhD Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering

School of Engineering

Hyagriv Simhan, MD Professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences and Executive Vice Chair, Obstetrical Services

School of Medicine

Coursework

BIRCWH Required coursework

(Offered via University of Pittsburgh CTSI, see http://www.icre.pitt.edu/courses/courses.aspx)

DEPARTMENT COURSE TITLE
ICRE/CTSI Making the Most of Mentoring
ICRE/CTSI From Benchtop to Bedside
ICRE/CTSI Medical Writing and Presentation Skills
ICRE/CTSI Advanced Grant Writing
IBGP Reproductive Development from Model Organisms to Humans
CTSI Responsible Conduct of Research

Suggested coursework

Scholars should work with their mentors to identify additional coursework relevant to their project. Suggestions listed below should not be considered all-inclusive.

DEPARTMENT/PROGRAM COURSE TITLE
Bioethics Introduction to Statistical Methods 1
Introduction to Statistical Methods 2
Clinical Trials: Methods and Practice
Chronic Disease Epidemiology
SAS for Data Management and Analysis
Epidemiology Pathophysiology Across the Life Span
Chronic Disease Epidemiology
Reproductive Epidemiology
Advanced Epidemiology of Aging
Epidemiology of Aging-Methods
Office of Academic Career Dev Leadership Academy
Environ & Occ Health Environmental Health and Disease
Principles of Toxicology
Genome Instability and Human Disease
Behavior & Comm Health Sci Overview of Health Equity
Dimensions of Aging: Culture and Health
Introduction to Community Health
Seminar Maternal and Child Health
Introduction to Community Based Participatory Research
Translating Research for Policy and Practice
Concept Mapping: A Participatory Research Method
Global Perspectives Women’s Health
Health Policy & Mgmt Leadership, Professionalism and Career Development
Computer Methods In Decision and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
Current Topics In Health Economics
Human Genetics Molecular Basis of Human Inherited Disease
Bioethics
Infectious Dis & Microbiol Human Diversity and Public Health
Public Health Overview of LBGT Health Disparities
Pharm & Chem Biology Principles of Pharmacology
Immunology Comprehensive Immunology
Interdisc Biomed Grad Program Cell and Molecular Physiology
Molecular Pathobiology
Basics of Personalized Medicine
Model Organisms
Stem Cells

Leadership / Advisory Committee

Yoel Sadovsky, MD

Co-Principal Investigator

Executive Director, Magee-Womens Research Institute

Elsie Hilliard Hillman Chair of Women’s Health Research

Professor Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

James M. Roberts, MD

Co-Principal Investigator

Professor Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

Professor of Epidemiology

Professor Clinical and Translational Science, CTSI

Investigator, Magee-Womens Research Institute

Melissa McNeil, MD, MPH

Program Director

Associate Chief Division of General Internal Medicine

Professor of Medicine and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

Lisa Bodnar, PhD, MPH, RD

Committee Member

Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Psychiatry, and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
Heidi Donovan, PhD, RN

Committee Member

Professor and Vice Chair for Research

Director, Office of Community Partnerships

Department of Health & Community Systems

Robert P. Edwards, MD

Committee Member

Professor and Chair

Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

Mellissa Mann, PhD

Committee Member

Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Professor of Pediatrics

Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine

School of Medicine

Judith Yanowitz, PhD

Committee Member

Associate Professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences

School of Medicine

Anthony Zeleznik, PhD

Committee Member

Professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences

School of Medicine

 

Scholars & Alumni

Current Scholars

Catherine Chappell, MD, MSc

  • Assistant Professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Project: Hepatitis C viral infection in pregnancy
  • Primary mentor(s): Sharon Hillier, PhD

Marian Jarlenski, PhD, MPH

  • Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health
  • Project: Effects of state prenatal substance use policies on access to treatment and birth outcomes
  • Primary mentor(s): Lisa Bodnar PhD, MPH, RD

Grace Lim, MD, MS

  • Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Project: Impact of Labor Analgesia on Postpartum Depression
  • Primary mentor(s): Francesca Facco, MD

Alumni

Steven Abramowitch, PhD (2008-2012)

  • Project: Vaginal and connective tissue remodeling in response to pelvic floor deficiency
  • Primary mentor(s): Pamela Moalli, MD, PhD
  • Current appointment: Assistant Professor Bioengineering and OBGYN, University of Pittsburgh

Sharon Achilles, MD (2011-2012)

Lisa Bodnar, PhD, MPH, RD (2005-2006)

  • Project: Perinatal depression and maternal nutritional status
  • Primary mentor(s): Katherine Wisner, MD
  • Current appointment: Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Psychiatry and OBGYN, University of Pittsburgh

Debra L. Bogen, MD (2003-2007)

  • Project: The role of maternal depression on women’s breastfeeding decisions
  • Primary mentor(s): Katherine Wisner, MD
  • Current appointment: Associate Professor Pediatrics, Fellowship Director, Faculty Development in General Academic Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Bryan N Brown, PhD (2013-2017)

  • Project: Modulating the host response: An opportunity for improving outcomes in prolapse repair
  • Primary mentor(s): Harvey Borovetz, PhD
  • Current appointment: Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh

Janet M. Catov, PhD, MS (2008-2012)

  • Project: Preterm birth and maternal cardiovascular risk
  • Primary mentor(s): Kim Sutton Tyrell, DrPH, MPH, RN
  • Current appointment: Associate Professor of OBGYN, University of Pittsburgh

Judy Chang, MD (2003-2006)

  • Project: Examining communication and power dynamics of female patients and their healthcare providers
  • Primary mentor(s): Robert Arnold, MD
  • Current appointment: Assistant Professor of OBGYN, University of Pittsburgh

Molly B. Conroy, MD, MPH (2005-2007)

  • Project: Healthy, minds, bodies and hearts after menopause
  • Primary mentor(s): Andrea Kriska, PhD, MS
  • Current appointment: Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, Center for Research on Healthcare, Univ of Pittsburgh

Francesca Facco, MD (2013-2015)

  • Project: Sleep disordered breathing, obesity and pregnancy
  • Primary mentor(s): Patrick Strollo, Jr, MD
  • Current appointment: Assistant Professor of OBGYN, University of Pittsburgh

Chiara Ghetti, MD (2008-2012)

  • Project: The interrelatedness of depression and anxiety in women seeking surgery for pelvic organ prolapse
  • Primary mentor(s): Katherine Wisner, MD
  • Current appointment: Associate Professor of OBGYN, Washington University in St Louis

Rachel Hess, MD, Msc (2004)

  • Project: Does menopause matter?
  • Primary mentor(s): Wishwa Kapoor, MD, MPH
  • Current appointment: Chief, Division of Health System Innovation and Research, Professor of Population of Health Sciences and Internal Medicine, University of Utah

Arundhathi Jeyabalan, MD, MSCR (2003-2007)

  • Project: The Role of Vascular Gelatinase(s) in Pregnancy- and Relaxin- Mediated Renal Vasodilation and Hyperfiltration in Rats
  • Primary mentor(s): Kirk Conrad, MD
  • Current appointment: Associate Professor of OBGYN, University of Pittsburgh

Heather McCauley, ScD (2014-2016)

  • Project: Engaging natural Mentor(s)s of girls in foster care to reduce unintended pregnancy
  • Primary mentor(s): Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD
  • Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University

Kathleen M. McTigue, MD, MS, MPH (2003-2004)

  • Project: Environmental approaches to obesity prevention in women
  • Primary mentor(s): Lewis Kuller, MD, DrPH
  • Current appointment: Associate Professor of General Medicine, and Epidemiology, Director, General Medicine Clinical Scientist Track, Associate Director, General Medicine Intl Scholars Program, University of Pittsburgh

Beth Prairie, MD (2010-2013)

  • Project: Meeting the needs of women at midlife: depressed mood, disturbed sleep and sexual dysfunction
  • Primary mentor(s): Katherine Wisner, MD
  • Current appointment: Midlife Women’s Associates, Pittsburgh, PA

Sarah Reynolds, PhD (2004-2007)

  • Project: Diabetes and pregnancy: personality, mood, and health behaviors
  • Primary mentor(s): Katherine Wishner, MD
  • Current appointment: Assistant Professor, Columbia School of Social Work and Director of Training, Cognitive & Behavioral Consultants of Westchester, White Plains, NY

Dana Rofey, PhD (2008-2009)

  • Project: Healthy body, healthy mind: helping adolescents with polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Primary mentor(s): Ronald Dahl, MD
  • Current appointment: Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Pittsburgh

Haitao Yang, PhD (2013-2015)

  • Project: Engaging natural Mentor(s)s of girls in foster care to reduce unintended pregnancy
    Primary mentor(s):
  • Current appointment: Staff Scientist, University of Florida Center for Pharmacometrics & Systems Pharmacology, Gainesville

 

Application Process

The application consists of three major sections, which must be submitted via email (Word or PDF attachments) to Ms Lori Rideout at rideoutl@mwri.magee.edu. We are now accepting applications through March 1, 2019 for start appointment start date of June 1, 2019.

The application consists of three major sections, which must be submitted via email (Word or PDF attachments) to Ms Lori Rideout at rideoutl@mwri.magee.edu:

 

Candidate’s documents

Completed application form
Current curriculum vitae
Draft budget (see template)
Departmental support for any expenses not covered by BIRCWH must be confirmed in writing. See required letters below.
Address the following:

  • Scholar salary and fringes
  • Research expenses
  • Travel to scientific meetings
  • Tuition/coursework
Research training and career development plan (3 pages) Address the interdisciplinary nature and the reproductive sciences-women’s health focus of the training. (Up to 3 pages)
Research plan (5 pages) Address hypothesis, innovation and approach, and describe how the proposed plan will promote the candidate’s education and development as an independent investigator. (Up to 5 pages, excluding bibliography).
NIH Other Support Include current and pending support

Primary mentor’s documents

Mentor’s statement (2 pages) Address the following:

  • Assessment of the candidate’s qualifications and potential for a research career
  • Description of career development plan
  • Description of the research environment, and the availability and quality of needed research resources
NIH biosketch Personal statement section should describe mentor’s past mentoring experience and current research focus
Past/current trainees Provide a list or table of up to 5 past or current trainees, which includes: Name, degree(s), dates, where trained, title of project, academic level, and present position and institution

Letters of support (three)

Two general letters of reference From those familiar with candidate’s research
Department Chair’s letter Confirm the following:

  • Seventy-five percent of the candidate’s full-time professional effort will be protected for the development of his/her research program under the BIRCWH award.
  • Departmental resources, including research facilities, resources, training opportunities, and faculty capable of productive collaboration with the candidate, will be available for the candidate’s planned career development and research program.
  • The proposed budget is approved by the department, and that the department will cover the remaining salary/fringe and research expenses in excess of the NIH funding available.

Candidate Evaluation

Each proposal will be reviewed initially by the PIs and Program Coordinator to ensure that the application criteria are met. The application will then be reviewed by the entire Advisory Committee. Candidates may be invited to interview with the co-PIs and to provide a presentation of their proposal to the Advisory Committee. The application process an important training experience, and each applicant is provided with a written assessment of her/his application prepared by the co-PIs and Program Director, based upon reviewer critiques and committee discussions. Upon request, the co-PIs or Program Director may also meet with unsuccessful applicants to provide direction toward revision and alternative funding.

News

PittMed feature story on BIRCWH Program: http://www.pittmed.health.pitt.edu/story/fem-fellows