In 1999 the University of Kentucky College of Medicine was awarded a five-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant of $2.5 million to develop and implement the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) training program. Awarded through the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, the grant provided career development and mentoring opportunities for junior M.D. and Ph.D. faculty members interested in establishing research careers related to Women's Health.
During its first five years, UK's BIRCWH program was extraordinarily successful in training interdisciplinary researchers. Fifteen BIRCWH scholars secured 16 independently funded grants as PI's, including four R01 grants and one National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, for a total of $7,691,750. BIRCWH scholars published extensively during that five-year period. In June 2005, the same administrative team - consisting of the PI, co-directors and staff who managed the BIRCWH program were successful in competitively renewing the program for an additional five-years.
During the next 5 years, the 23 Scholars associated with and trained through the BIRCWH program secured 57 grants and contracts for $30,573,113 as PIs and an additional $8,188,556 as coPIs. This included 15 R01s, 5 R21’s, 4 R03’s, and 2 NSF grants along with support from foundations and industry. Importantly, eleven of 23 former BIRCWH Scholars had been promoted to Associate and or full Professor with the remaining Scholars progressing in their academic careers. Again, the BIRCWH program at Kentucky was successful in competitively renewing the program for an additional five years.
Currently the BIRCWH program at the University of Kentucky is in its 20th year of training. The program has grown to engage investigators across the UK campus interested in women’s health research and has become exemplary in its mentoring and training of young faculty.