The goal of this competitive renewal of our career development program, entitled Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health in Pittsburgh (BIRCWH@Pitt), is to build on our past programmatic success to train, nurture, and support talented University of Pittsburgh faculty scholars in interdisciplinary research across a woman's lifespan. Our objectives build on our unparalleled strength in reproductive sciences and women's health research, emanating from Magee-Women Research Institute (MWRI) at the geographical center of the main campus of the University of Pittsburgh. MWRI is also adjacent to Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), one of the nation's largest and most successful academic health care systems. With nearly 110 researchers fully engaged in basic, translational, behavioral, clinical, and health services research, pursued at the six Health Sciences schools of the University of Pittsburgh and MWRI's research facility, we are poised to catalyze training and research in women's health locally, regionally and nationally. Using MWRI as the BIRCWH@Pitt programmatic hub, our women's health network includes well-established nodes and links throughout our campus. The success of the BIRCWH program, coupled with the reputation of MWRI, facilitated the integration of women's health research throughout the entire University. Indeed, the Department of Internal Medicine provides a residency track and fellowship training in women's health, and the Department of Epidemiology in the Graduate School of Public Health features an emphasis in women's health and reproductive epidemiology. This strong university foundation enables us to focus on our long-term objectives of scholars'education, hands-on training, intense career development toward full academic independence, attraction of new trainees through intellectual stimulation, motivation of new collaborative synergies, and implementation of sustainable women's health research. Cognizant of the fact that our scholars enter our program with diverse academic backgrounds and investigative skills, we have crafted individually tailored career development plans of 2-4 years, depending on each scholar's training and expertise. A team of mentors with diverse yet complementary skills is assembled based on the scholar's background and needs, and works with each scholar to achieve her/his didactic, technological, personal and funding goals. We plan to train seven scholars with diverse research interests, each guided by an interdisciplinary group of three mentors, and overseen by an Advisory Committee comprised of researchers with heterogeneous scientific backgrounds. Resources garnered through our program are shared with other reproductive sciences trainees in the Department of OBGYN, MWRI, and elsewhere in the University. Together, BIRCWH@Pitt emphasizes imaginative thinking, cross-fertilization and collaboration that bridges basic sciences and clinical medicine, and serves to propel our scholars to successful careers in women's health.
Despite impressive scientific advances in recent years, the field of women's health research continues to lag behind the forefront of scientific development. We propose to take advantage of the extraordinary academic environment at the University of Pittsburgh schools of Health Sciences and Magee-Womens Research Institute, and offer an exceptional interdisciplinary training program across a woman's lifespan which will become a magnet for scholarly excellence in reproductive biology and women's health.
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