The University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) women’s health and sex/gender-based research career development program, Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH), is an NIH-funded, K12 training grant to mentor scientists in women’s health and sex/gender-based health research. The UIC BIRCWH program trains a diverse group of junior faculty scholars to become independent women’s health or sex/gender-based research investigators. The program consists of a core and tailored curriculum, research training, mentoring (by a team of two or more senior women’s health or sex/gender-based health researchers), individualized career planning, and a research project.


The overall goal of the UIC BIRCWH Program is to align with the 2019-23 Trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research to “promote training and careers to develop a well-trained, diverse, and robust workforce to advance science for the health of women” (NIH ORWH, 2019). Through evidence-based mentoring practices, innovative training strategies, and strong internal and external multidisciplinary collaborations, the UIC BIRCWH improves recruitment, retention, and advancement of women and URMs as scientists and academic leaders in interdisciplinary women’s health and sex/gender differences research.

Our long-term objective is to promote training and career development of a new generation of researchers equipped with the knowledge and career skills necessary to advance science for the health of women in the next decade and beyond. We are based in the UIC College of Medicine, but draw on the interdisciplinary strengths of UIC’s seven health colleges.


Our scholars and mentors represent a diversity of disciplines from each of the six health colleges at UIC. Our past success directing the BIRCWH from 2007-2017 fostered the academic careers of 18 Scholars (33% under-represented minorities; URM). Their success is evident in 24 NIH grants as Principal Investigator and 32 as Co-Investigator, as well as numerous non-NIH grants (55 as PI and 50 as Co-I), and 510 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts (131 as first author). We also have a record of success mentoring in the UIC-funded Women’s Health Research (WHR) Associates Program which supported eight Associates (38% URM) and the UIC-funded Bridge Program which has supported three Scholars to date.