Application Process




 The Directors of the NIH grant Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women' Health (BIRCWH) at the University of Kentucky are seeking applications from outstanding junior faculty interested in participating in this research training program focused on either

  1. women’s health
  2. sex/gender differences in health risk and/or disease.

 Junior faculty members who are interested in developing research in either of these two areas are encouraged to submit an application.  Presently one position is open. Past scholars have come from a range of colleges including Arts and Sciences, Public Health, Nursing, Pharmacy, Nursing Medicine, and Health Sciences. Candidates for these positions must have a terminal professional degree, such as an MD, DMD, RN/PhD, PharmD, or PhD equivalent.

 Applications for this call for proposals are accepted through August 22, 2016. Due to NIH guidelines, the Department may be required to provide matching support.  Information on the application process can be found at:



The Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Program (BIRCWH) is an NIH supported grant awarded to the College of Medicine to provide career development and mentoring opportunities for junior faculty interested in research related to women's health or sex differences in health outcomes. The University of Kentucky was among the first universities to receive this NIH BIRCWH training grant and has been consistently funded since 2000.



The goals of the program are to:

  • Provide state of the art training in research relevant to women's health that will ensure that junior faculty establish independent research careers in the academic medicine;
  • Facilitate and encourage ongoing and new collaborations in focused but interactive areas that are essential to improving women's health, and
  • Provide in-depth and broad experiences with a primary mentor and other faculty who will enrich the research experience.



While we are interested in applications from junior faculty that addresses sex or gender differences in health/disease or women’s health, BIRCWH program leaders have expertise in the following areas:

  • Drug and alcohol use and abuse
  • Interpersonal Violence and its Prevention
  • Reproductive Physiology
  • Minority Health and Health Disparities



The BIRCWH grant is designed for junior faculty members who have the potential to establish their own funded research program.  Candidates must be U.S. citizens or non-citizen nationals, or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence and possess an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-55) or some other verification of legal admission as a permanent resident.

At the time support begins (September 15, 2016), Scholars may not have served as the principal investigator or equivalent on an NIH research project (RO1), Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01), Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08) or their equivalent, a subproject of a program project (PO1) or center grant (P50, U54), or equivalent PHS research grant awards.  Scholars may not accept or hold any other PHS award that duplicates the provisions of this career award.  Scholars must have no more than 6 years of research training from their terminal degree per NIH guidelines. Preference will be given to candidates in regular title series appointments (i.e. non Research track series).

During their tenure as a BIRCWH Scholar, participants are required to apply for independent research grant support.  When a BIRCWH Scholar obtains a federally funded extramural award, they will be considered to have successfully completed the BIRCWH training.  Although NIH requires that BIRCWH salary support be terminated when a scholar receives extramural funding, scholars may still participate in the training and mentoring aspects of the BIRCWH program if they so desire.



The PI, Thomas Curry, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Catherine Martin, MD, Professor and Dr. Laurie L. Humphries Endowed Chair in Child Psychiatry, and Ann L. Coker, Ph.D., Professor and Verizon Wireless Endowed Chair in the Center for Research on Violence Against Women, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will provide general oversight for the Program. Ms. Suann Reese is the program administrator. An Advisory Committee is responsible for reviewing the activities of the Scholars and their mentors. Regular interactions with mentors will provide direction and leadership to each participant. Each scholar's progress will also be monitored through meetings with the UK BIRCWH program directors.



Scholars accepted into the program must be guaranteed by their department/division that 75 percent of their time will be protected for research (exception: NIH allow surgical specialties 50% commitment) .  This unique opportunity will ensure that junior investigators will be able to develop their research initiatives and establish themselves as researchers in women's health.  Scholars will also work closely with established investigators and under the direction of a primary mentor and thus will have multiple role models to enhance their career development.  Partial salary support is provided for this protected time; $90,000 is provided towards clinical faculty salaries and $60,000 is provided towards Ph.D. faculty salaries.  This salary support can be guaranteed for up to 2 years for Ph.D.s, M.D.s or clinical researchers.  The awards will be reviewed and renewed annually based upon performance and progress in research activities.



Departments that have junior faculty accepted as BIRCWH Scholars will have the opportunity to develop their departmental research programs as well as the careers of their faculty.  The grant provides partial salary support of the BIRCWH Scholar's base salary and fringe.  This is to ensure protection of 75% of their time for research.  Scholars will be rotated off the program when they receive federal funding in the area of Women's Health research.

 The current BIRCWH program at UK runs through 2017 and is up for its 4th cycle of competitive renewal.  Due to NIH Guidelines, BIRCWH scholars are required to have 2 years of support.  The current BIRCWH at UK has one slot open available for 1 year.  However the BIRCWH program is. 

 NOTE: Due to NIH Guidelines, BIRCWH scholars are required to have 2 years of support.  The current BIRCWH program at UK runs through 2017 and is will be resubmitted for its 4th cycle of competitive renewal.  In the event the BIRCWH program is renewed, the second year of support will be provided by the BIRCWH program, as long as sufficient progress is made by the scholar.  In the event the BIRCWH program is not renewed, the second year of support will be provided by the scholar’s department.



Scholars will be expected to commit 75 percent of their time to research on a project related to Women's Health that they have designed and proposed.  Scholars should meet with their Department Chairs to ensure that the Chair will guarantee this time commitment prior to applying for the BIRCWH. The scholar’s time will be monitored by the BIRCWH administration.

 Scholars must have demonstrated training in the responsible conduct of research.  In addition, scholars will be required to take core curriculum courses or substitute formal training as approved by the BIRCWH directors.  Additional didactic courses may be required for individuals who may not have sufficient experience in research methods or the latest information on important issues in Women's Health.  Curriculum can be tailored to meet the Scholars experiences and academic background.

 Scholars will be required to attend and participate in a variety of learning opportunities including the BIRCWH Seminar Series, journal clubs, Clinical Research Seminar Series, and Reproductive Forum.

 Scholars will be expected to interact with other program participants to enhance the quality and interdisciplinary nature of Women's Health research at the University of Kentucky. 


Scholars will be required to complete periodic progress reports to be submitted to the BIRCWH Directors. 



Completion of the electronic application form (, all documents listed below must be uploaded into the application form as a single PDF file.  The research, career development and mentoring plan should be completed using Arial, font size 11.  Completed applications should be submitted electronically by August 22, 2016.


1) Research Plan: No more than a 4 page description of the research project.  The project should be consistent with the applicant’s level of research development as well as the objectives of the applicant’s career development plan in women’s health and/or sex/gender differences. The research description should demonstrate not only the quality of the candidate’s research thus far but also the novelty, significance, creativity and approach, as well as the ability of the candidate to carry out the research. As noted above 50-75% of the scholar’s time is covered under this award. Approximately $10,000 is available per year for other research expenditures. These may include funds for subject incentives, research assistantships, equipment, software, or relevant datasets such as medical claims data. A detailed budget is not required.

 The research plan should include:

  • specific aims of the research project
  • significance of the research
  • innovative aspects of the research
  • preliminary data (if any)
  • experimental approach
  • future directions of the project


NOTE:  Sections 2 – 4 below should not exceed 4 pages.


2) Candidate’s Background:  A description of the candidate’s background, including professional training and previous research training and experience.  Describe how prior training relates to the candidate’s objectives and long-term career plans in the area of women’s health or sex /gender differences as outlined in #3 below. 

  • Describe the candidate's commitment to a career in research with a focus in women’s health or the exploration of sex/gender differences affecting health or disease risk.  Include a description of all of the candidate’s professional responsibilities and show their relation to the proposed activities on the career award.
  • Describe prior training and how it relates to the immediate objectives and long-term career plans of the candidate.
  • Describe the candidate’s research efforts to this point in his/her research career, including any publications, prior research interests and experience.
  • Provide evidence of the candidate’s potential to develop into an independent research investigator.
  • Include a statement that the candidate will commit at least (75% of full-time professional effort) to the BIRCWH program and related career development activities.  The remaining effort may be devoted to clinical, teaching, or other research pursuits and activities consistent with the objectives of the award.


3) Candidates’ Career Goals and Objectives:

A clear concise description of the candidate’s short and long term career goals and objectives. 

  • Describe a systematic plan: (1) that shows a logical progression from prior research and training experiences to the research and career development experiences that will occur during the career award period and then to independent investigator status; (2) that justifies the need for further career development to become an independent investigator.
  • Describe the specific areas where the candidate needs additional training to achieve these goals. 

4) Career Development Plan:  The career development plan should be consistent with the candidate’s career goals and prior research experience.  A description of research skills and knowledge the candidate will acquire as a result of this award and how this training enhances the proposed research plan and candidate’s career goals.  If needed, describe any didactic course work, workshops, and off site training experiences that are included in the career development plan.  Include a Research and Training Timeline.

 5) Mentoring Plan:  Provided by the UK mentor or mentoring team (2 page maximum) to describe a detailed mentoring plan including a description of how each mentor will contribute to the career development of the candidate.  The mentoring plan should also include a description of how the mentoring team will monitor the progress of the candidate.  This plan can be provided in the form of a detailed letter of support and commitment to the career development of the candidate.

6) Letter from your Department Chair/Division Chief submitted on department letterhead with signature guaranteeing 75% protected research and career development time.  The letter must also acknowledge the possibility that the Department will provide protected research career development time for the second year in the event the BIRCWH program is not renewed.

 Please contact  Suann Reese at with questions (Phone: 323-6166). All applications must be submitted by 4:00 pm, August 22, 2016. All applicants will be considered on an individual basis. Candidates may be interviewed prior to making final decisions. Opportunities to participate in the program are limited to a total of 1 scholar.

 Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research

  • Applicants should document prior instruction in responsible conduct of research during the applicant’s current career stage (including the date of last occurrence).  If this training has not been performed, the applicant must propose plans to receive instruction in responsible conduct of research
  • Such plans must address five instructional components, format, subject matter, faculty participation, duration of instruction, and frequency of instruction, as outlined and explained in NOT-OD-10-019.
  • The background, rationale and more detail about instruction in the responsible conduct of research can be found in NOT-OD-10-019.


Application Review

All applications will be reviewed and scored by a committee of UK faculty. The criteria for review will be based on scientific and technical merit using NIH scoring methods.


Overall Impact

The likelihood for the candidate to maintain a strong research program, taking into consideration the criteria below will determine the overall impact/priority score.


Scored Review Criteria

Each of the review criteria below will be assessed in the determination of scientific merit, and a separate score will be recorded for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.


  • Does the candidate have the potential to develop as an independent and productive researcher in the area of women’s health or sex differences?
  • Is the candidate’s academic, clinical, and (if relevant) research record of high quality?
  • Is there evidence of the candidate’s commitment to meeting the program objectives to become an independent investigator in research?
  • Do the letters of reference and mentorship address the above review criteria, and do they demonstrate evidence that the candidate has a high potential for becoming an independent investigator?


Career Development Plan/Career Goals & Objectives

  • What is the likelihood that the plan will contribute substantially to the scientific development of the candidate leading to scientific independence in women’s health or sex differences research?
  • Are the content, scope, phasing, and duration of the career development plan appropriate when considered in the context of prior training/research experience and the stated didactic and research objectives for achieving research independence?
  • Are there adequate plans for monitoring and evaluating the candidate’s research and career development progress?


Research Plan

  • Are the proposed research question, design, and methodology of significant scientific and technical merit?
  • Is the research plan relevant to the candidate’s research career objectives in women’s health?
  • Is the plan for developing/enhancing the candidate’s research skills appropriate and adequate?
  • If applicable, are there adequate plans for data and safety monitoring of clinical trials?



  • Are the qualifications of the UK mentor(s) in the area of the proposed research appropriate?
  • Does the mentor(s) adequately address the above review criteria including the candidate’s potential and his/her strengths and areas needing improvement?
  • Is there adequate description of the quality and extent of the mentor’s proposed role in providing guidance and advice to the candidate?
  • Is there evidence of the mentor’s previous experience in fostering the development of independent investigators?
  • Is there evidence of previous research productivity and peer-reviewed support?
  • Is the mentor’s description of the elements of the research career development activities adequate?
  • Are there adequate plans for monitoring and evaluating the career development awardee’s progress toward independence?


Environment & Commitment to the Candidate

  • Is there clear commitment of the sponsoring department/division to ensure that a minimum of 9 person-months (75% of the candidate’s full-time professional effort) will be devoted directly to the research and career development activities described in the application, with the remaining percent effort being devoted to an appropriate balance of research, teaching, administrative, and clinical responsibilities?