Building Tomorrow 
Women’s Health Research is committed to developing knowledge to address key issues in women’s health and the clinicians and researchers who can rapidly move discovery forward; programs such as the BIRCWH foster interdisciplinary mentorship and research growth.

The BIRCWH supports research career development of junior faculty members who have recently completed clinical training, additional research training, or postdoctoral fellowships and who are commencing: 1) Basic research; 2) Translational research; 3) Clinical research; or 4) Population-based or health services research relevant to women’s health and/or gender biology [1]. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Who is eligible? The Scholar position is a junior faculty appointment, not a fellowship. At the time of the award, candidates must; (1) have a Ph.D. degree or clinical doctorate or its equivalent; (2) 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). Doctoral degrees include but are not limited to, the Ph.D., Sc.D., M.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.V.M., D.M.D., O.D., D.C., Pharm.D., N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy), and the clinical Ph.D. (e.g. psychologist) as well as nurses with doctoral degrees. In addition, other clinicians holding doctoral degrees may be eligible. Completion of clinical subspecialty training is not required of candidates in general practice in their specialty; however, those who choose to subspecialize must have completed their fellowships. In order to accommodate the needs of those interested in participating in this program who may have had a career hiatus because of family responsibilities, uniformed service, etc., there is no limit on time elapsed since completion of training. At the time of their application, scholars cannot have more than six years of research training experience beyond their last doctoral degree. The candidate must also be able to (3) identify a mentor with extensive research experience and; (4) be able to spend at least 75 percent of full-time professional effort conducting research and research career development.

Citizenship: Candidates must be US citizens, non-citizen nationals or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence and posses an Alien Registration Receipt Card (1-151 or 1-551) or some other verification of legal admission as a permanent resident.

Prior research experience: Candidates who were former Principal Investigators on NIH Small Grants (i.e., RO3s) or Exploratory/Developmental Grants (i.e., R21s) are eligible. However, Principal Investigators who have current or prior support on NIH research project grants (RO1), FIRST Awards (R29), sub-projects of program project (PO1) or center grants (P50) or the equivalent, are not eligible for appointment under this program. Candidates who have been previously supported on NIH or non-NIH career development awards dedicated to training patient-oriented researchers are not eligible. However, candidates whose prior training did not focus on patient-oriented research but wish to shift focus to this area are eligible. Candidates may not concurrently hold any other PHS award that duplicates the provisions of this award. Scholars on this award are encouraged to apply for independent research grant support during the period of support under this award.

What is provided? Faculty Scholars become members of The Elliott Newman Society and participate in career development activities coordinated for all K12 supported faculty at Vanderbilt as well as seminars, work-in-progress sessions, and writing workshops provided specifically for BIRCWH Scholars. These activities are designed to expand the collegial community of new investigators and to provide tailored resources to assist them in the transition to becoming successful independent investigators. 1. Salary and fringe benefits to secure 75% protected time are provided at a capped level that varies based on current institutional-based salaries. 2. Up to $18,000 per year research and development budget.

How to apply? With the provisional approval of his or her departmental or divisional leadership, a potential applicant should schedule an informational interview with Dr. Amy Major (Program Director) or Dr. Digna Velez Edwards (Associate Program Director). Also feel free to contact Dr. Katherine Hartmann (PI) via Adrienne Babcock at with preliminary questions or concerns in considering eligibility of a potential applicant or for more details.

A completed application for initial appointment [2] consists of the following:

1. A cover letter in which the applicant concisely describes his/her specific research interests. The letter should note past research experience; prior exposure (if any) to cross-disciplinary curricula (biostatistics, informatics, epidemiology, economics, translational research training, clinical evaluative sciences, etc.); long-term career goals; and how the BIRCWH will help advance those goals.

2. An updated curriculum vitae and NIH biosketch for the applicant.

3. A letter of support from the proposed Lead Mentor indicating his/her commitment to the scholar and intent to participate as a lead mentor in the program.

4. The mentor’s curriculum vitae and NIH biosketch with indication of active extramural funding.

5. A three-page research proposal that describes the background, hypothesis/specific aims, methods, preliminary studies, and significance of the proposed work.

6. A letter from the applicant’s department chair which defines the institutional commitment to the applicant and his/her specific faculty position; guarantees the minimum of 75% protected time for research and training; and provides specific details regarding anticipated non-research activities of the Scholar, such as teaching and clinics. (An anticipated weekly/monthly schedule may be used to illustrate these time commitments.)

7. Two additional letters of reference that address scientific readiness and/or merits of the proposed line of research. These should ideally be from faculty members with whom the applicant has worked or had research experience.

8. A three-page educational plan that may include coursework (as appropriate) from one of the graduate programs available within Vanderbilt.

Applicants determined to meet eligibility requirements may also be invited to additional interviews including meeting with a member of the Program Advisory Committee, other program leaders, or potential additional mentors.

Pending final NIH notification, final selections will be made within 30-days of a nomination. Applicants must be eligible to begin their award within the 30-day timeframe.

One hard copy and email attachment of electronic versions (in PDF format) for each item above should be submitted to:

Katherine Hartmann, MD, PhD
BIRCWH Principal Investigator
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
2525 West End Avenue, 6th Floor
Nashville, TN 37203-1738
Campus zip: 8390 (if emailed please indicate Subject: “BIRCWH APPLICATION”) 

Phone for queries: 615.936.6768 (Adrienne Babcock)

[1] Participating NIH units co-funding the BIRCWH are:

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) 
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) 
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) 
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) 
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) 
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS)

[2] Successful candidates are appointed by NIH to the program for a 12-month period and must submit a progress report and new budget for reappointment as part of the site annual report. We anticipate that each Scholar should be able to obtain individual support (K23 foundation career development and/or RO1) by the end of the second year of K12 support and except in unusual circumstances will limit total K12 support to 3 years to help the Scholar retain eligibility for an individual award and to maximize number of faculty who can be supported via this mechanism. Scholars are encouraged to apply for independent research grant support during the period of K12 support and are allowed concurrent salary support only while in the last two years when in compliance with NIH Policy Notice, NOT-OD-04-007.