Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) is committed to providing an outstanding training environment and research experience in reproductive biology and development, and is proud to support the advancement of graduate students and fellows in the Health Sciences Schools of the University of Pittsburgh via the MWRI Fellowship Program.

Training for Postdoctoral Fellows

MWRI prepares postdoctoral fellows for independent and productive careers as research scientists by providing them with the environment necessary for an intensive experience in medical research education. Post-doctoral trainees participate in highly focused research projects that impact one of a number of problems related to reproductive biology, reproductive development, and the health of women and their infants. Postdoctoral education is an important element within the scholarly activity at MWRI and the University of Pittsburgh. To date, MWRI has successfully trained more than 53 postdoctoral fellows.

The training goals of the MWRI Postdoctoral Fellowship include:

  • Performing meaningful basic, translational or clinical research that leads to
    enhancement of scientific knowledge
  • Developing effective oral and written communication skills
  • Acquiring the skills needed for independent research
  • Learning skills needed for successful grant writing
  • Developing effective teaching skills
  • Understanding laboratory management and organization, and
  • Incorporating responsible conduct (including ethics, safety and regulatory compliance) into all research activities

Training for Graduate Students

In the intermingled environments of the University of Pittsburgh and the UPMC health system, MWRI graduate students have a unique opportunity to take part in the process of pursuing fundamental reproductive sciences research, and translating bench discoveries to the bedside in order to improve patient care.

In addition to focused laboratory research, outstanding coursework, and enriching classroom education, MWRI graduate students will participate in small group journal clubs as well as the weekly Work in Progress (WIP) seminar series. In these venues, students will learn to understand, present, and critique research from various biomedical disciplines. Graduate students will conduct research, analyze data, and assemble results for presentation in manuscripts and at national/international meetings. They will also have the opportunity to meet nationally and internationally renowned researchers who have influenced the fields of reproductive medicine and women’s and infants’ health.


The MWRI fellowship is available to new recruitments, or to existing postdoctoral fellows and graduate students at MWRI. Postdoctoral fellows are employees of the University and are appointed to non-faculty positions through the University of Pittsburgh; graduate students’ stipends are also issued via the University of Pittsburgh. Salary/stipend levels and fringe benefits are determined in accordance with University policy. All fellows are required to adhere to the University of Pittsburgh’s guidelines for post-doctoral associates and students, and for the responsible conduct of research.

Postdoctoral candidates must have an MD, PhD, or equivalent doctorate (eg, ScD, PharmD or DVM) in a field that is relevant to reproductive biology and women’s health, and cannot be more than four years into a post-doctoral position at the time of application. They must be committed to a research career in reproductive sciences. Strong candidates are intelligent, creative, focused, independent, show a keen interest in developing current as well as new skills through the fellowship training, able to effectively correspond and work with other team members, and have excellent written and oral communications skills in English. Preference will be given to applicants who are committed to an academic career. Individuals participating in the Program may come from the United States or international institutions.

Graduate candidates must be currently enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh and complete their thesis project under the guidance of a primary member of MWRI who is an approved member of the graduate faculty.


Program Structure

Appointments are granted for one year, and funds are provided to cover the fellow’s salary and standard fringe benefits. Funds are also provided for postdoctoral fellows to enroll in one advanced University of Pittsburgh course relevant to their project. At the end of the first year, a written progress report and presentation to the Fellowship Committee are required, at which time the Committee may choose to approve extension of support for a second year. The maximum term for which a trainee may be supported by the program is two years. The appointment involves full-time research, and cannot be a part of a clinical training program.

The fellowship provides the scholar with opportunities to continue development of his/her research skills, learn new research techniques, and work under the supervision of an experienced research faculty member. While developing their own professional skills, fellows provide significant contributions to the research enterprise, including research direction to undergraduate and/or graduate students. Additionally, they may be called upon to serve in various committees within the MWRI and University communities.

MWRI Postdoctoral fellows are expected to:

  1. Work with her/his mentor to conduct an independent project within the mentor’s laboratory, including:
    • Designing experiments and obtaining review committee approval (e.g., IRB,
      IACUC) for the conduct of those experiments
    • Performing experiments and analyzing data
    • Preparing data for publication, and presenting results in national or international meetings
    • Writing grant proposals or assisting in grant writing
  2. Participate in seminars and workshops, including
    • All WIP conferences, including one presentation of data per year
    • Annual MWRI – OBGYN Research Day
    • Annual University of Pittsburgh Symposiums for post-doctoral fellows and graduate students
    • MWRI scholars’ group meetings with WRHR, BIRCWH and other trainees (K Club)
  3. Complete relevant courses and classes, examples of which include:
    • Statistical analysis and study design
    • Survival skills, safety and ethics classes
    • Scientific writing
    • Specialty course work
  4. Maintain compliance in the responsible conduct of research by completing:
    • University of Pittsburgh required online modules in Research Integrity, Chemical Hygiene Training, Bloodborne Pathogen Training, Human Subject Protection, Conflict of Interest and Responsible Literature Searching (see http://www.rcco.pitt.edu/ResearchTrainingRequirements.htm)
    • Training relevant to the research project (University of Pittsburgh online modules on the Use of Laboratory Animals, Human Embryonic and Fetal Stem Cell Research, University of Pittsburgh Office of Radiation Safety Isotope Research Training workshop, etc)
    • Submission of required paperwork to the appropriate University review committees (IRB, IACUC, CTRC, cDNA, etc.)

The Fellowship Committee will ensure progress toward the program’s goals and verify that the environment for accomplishing these goals is adequate through the conduct of an informal six-month review meeting. Helen Gamrod will provide an activity survey and a list of information that must be submitted for distribution to the Committee prior to the review meeting, which is attended by the fellow and mentor. If a second year of funding is requested, the committee will make a decision following the review at the end of the first year. Upon completion of the Fellowship, scholars must provide Helen Gamrod with contact information, for purposes of annual follow-up for program tracking and evaluation. Once their training is completed, many fellows pursue their professional careers outside the US, while others stay in the US to continue their careers in academic, government, industry, or corporate settings.


Application Process

A faculty member must initiate the application process; therefore, applicants must identify and contact a faculty member who will serve as a mentor for their research education experience. Applicants should review our faculty directory and find a suitable contact in your area of research interest.

Once a faculty member has been identified, and before the application process is initiated, the potential faculty mentor should discuss the application with the Director of the MWRI Fellowship Program, Dr. Yoel Sadovsky. This step is essential for planning purposes, and to ensure that a position may be available in the desired timeframe. Applications submitted without this approval will not be processed.

Required application materials

  • Completed application form
  • Cover letter that includes a statement of your research interest, short-term goals for fellowship, time frame for training, a career development plan, milestones, and long-term goals.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Short-formatted NIH style application of up to two pages (Arial 11 pt font) that includes the following sections: abstract (250 word limit), significance, innovation and approach, and references (limit of 10, which must be included within the two page limit)
  • Letter from the planned mentor, which includes a brief summary of the proposed research project and its fit within the mentor’s ongoing research program, a mentorship plan, and a proposed funding plan in case the fellowship is not granted. Specialized coursework, training or other activities should be specified within the mentorship plan.
  • Two letters of recommendation, in addition to the mentor’s letter, addressed to the MWRI Postdoctoral Fellowship Review Committee, should be emailed directly from the referee to Margie Seskey.

All application materials should be submitted electronically (as word or PDF documents) to Margie Seskey. Selected candidates may be interviewed by the MWRI postdoctoral committee. The standard deadline for receiving Fellowship applications is December 31 and June 30 each year, although interim opportunities for submission may be announced as scholars matriculate from the program. Recipients will be notified within 3-4 month after the application deadline, with the general intent of starting the training on January 1 or July 1. The number of training slots will depend on availability and funds


Scholars and Alumni

Current Scholars

Applications are being accepted for 2019 positions now


  • Shannon A. Bainbridge, PhD
  • Deborah Benyo, PhD
  • Margaret Beucher, PhD
  • Charles Allen Black, Jr., PhD
  • Lisa Bodnar, PhD, MPH, RD
  • Raluca Budiu, PhD
  • Utpala Das, MD
  • Sandra Davidge, PhD
  • Ketaki Desai PhD
  • Rogier B. Donker, MD, PhD
  • Geraldo Duarte, MD
  • Charles Easley, PhD
  • Xin Feng, MD
  • Robin Gandley, PhD
  • Kathrin Gassei, PhD
  • Xiaoyan Gong, MD
  • Anthony S. Ham, PhD
  • Jing He, MD,PhD
  • Brian P. Hermann, PhD
  • Ulrike Friebe Hoffmann, MD
  • Jie Hu, MD, PhD
  • Carl Hubel, PhD
  • Tracy Keith, PhD
  • Hannele Laivuori MD, PhD
  • Mingguang Li, PhD
  • Rui Liang, MD
  • Antonio Arroyo Luque, PhD
  • Rama Mallipeddi, PhD
  • Payal Matel, PhD
  • Gina Mantia-Smaldone, MD
  • John McCarthy, MD, PhD
  • Jacqueline Novak, PhD
  • Stuart Olmsted PhD
  • Srinivas R. Pallerla, PhD
  • Robert W. Powers, PhD
  • Pawan Puri, PhD
  • Mainpal Rana, PhD
  • Rolando Ramirez (JJ), PhD
  • Yu Ren, PhD
  • Craig Richard PhD
  • Saqib Sachani, PhD
  • Alexandra Britto, Sassi PharmD
  • Deeksha Saxena, PhD
  • Eiji Shibata, MD, PhD
  • Varsha Shridhar, PhD
  • Rosaria Rita Siervo-Sassi, PhD
  • Frauke von Versen Hoeynck, MD
  • Carole Wegner PhD
  • Cathy B. Wilcox, PhD
  • Michelle Wood, PhD
  • Jian Xu, PhD
  • Young-Mi Yu, PhD
  • Xinglu Zhang, PhD
  • Wenjun Zong, MD