Tufts BIRCWH Program Among Highest in Citation Impact

Open larger image view.

Description of the graphic, Tufts BIRCWH Program Among the Highest in Citation Impact.


The goals of the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Program (BIRCWH, pronounced “BIRCH”) are to increase the number and skills of investigators who focus their research career in women’s health or in sex and gender differences. The Program seeks to support investigators through a mentored research and career development experience leading to an independent scientific career that will 1) benefit the health of women or advance research on sex/gender influences on health, and 2) encourage interdisciplinary research methodology.

The BIRCWH Program is built around three pillars: interdisciplinary research, mentoring, and career development. Interdisciplinary mentoring teams are essential to the BIRCWH Program and are defined as teams that include mentors from diverse disciplines to carry out interdisciplinary projects.

Mentors from collaborating departments are encouraged to provide needed expertise and resources, strengthening the BIRCWH Scholars’ research relevant to women’s health, including research on sex and gender influences as well as research on factors that contribute to disparities in health status or health outcomes for different populations of women.

Who is eligible?

Eligible BIRCWH K12 applicants are US citizens or permanent residents with a faculty appointment at the Instructor or Assistant Professor level at Tufts University, including Tufts Medical Center.

BIRCWH Objectives
BIRCWH Benefits
BIRCWH Eligibility Requirements
Instructions for Application
Dates and Deadlines
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

BIRCWH Objectives

The BIRCWH awards aim to:

  • Support mentored research career development of junior faculty members, who have no more than 6 years of research or research training since their last doctoral award at the time of the award
  • Support research in interdisciplinary basic, translational, behavioral, clinical, and/or health services research relevant to women’s health or sex and gender differences.
  • Increase the number and skills of investigators through a mentored research and career development experience leading to an independent scientific career that will:
    • Benefit the health of women or advance research on sex/gender influences on health
    • Encourage interdisciplinary research methodology

Back to top

BIRCWH K12 Benefits

Scholars may be awarded a total amount of $145,000 per year for two years in direct costs. This amount includes a salary and fringe support of 75% effort up to a total of $120,000; and research related expenses, travel, tuition or educational expenses.

The BIRCWH Program provides mentorship and sponsorship, locally and nationally to assist in the development of a successful research career in women’s health or in sex and gender differences.

Back to top

BIRCWH Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants are junior faculty members early in their career who have demonstrated the aptitude and commitment to women’s health or sex and gender differences, and have a high probability of obtaining extramural funding after the training program.

Applicants Must:

  1. Possess a research or health-professional doctoral degree or its equivalent.
  2. At time of appointment, have no more than six years of research or research training experience beyond their last doctoral degree. (Please contact Elizabeth Wiltrout Leary if you have any questions regarding this eligibility.)
  3. At the time of the award, have a faculty appointment at the Instructor or Assistant Professor level at one of the Tufts schools. Current fellows or postdocs with commitments of faculty positions at the Instructor or Assistant Professor level are eligible to apply with a statement from their Chair that a faculty appointment will be conferred before BIRCWH funding begins. BIRCWH funds cannot be used during fellowship training.
  4. Be a US citizen, non-citizen national, or permanent resident.
  5. Commit to a minimum of nine calendar months of full-time professional effort for career development and research activities associated with the program. The remaining three calendar months can be divided among other research, clinical and teaching activities if these activities are consistent with the proposed goals of the BIRCWH Program. The BIRCWH Program provides support for a minimum of two years of consecutive funding for each scholar, with the potential option of applying for a third year.
  6. Have a mentoring team to foster training in women’s health or sex and gender differences The team will include a primary mentor to oversee overall career development and research activities and a secondary mentor(s) to enhance interdisciplinary research and support research activities.
  7. Not simultaneously submit or have pending an application for any other Public Health Service (PHS) mentored career development award (e.g., K07, K08, K22, K23) that duplicates any of the provisions of the BIRCWH Program.
  8. Former or current principal investigators on any NIH research project grant (this does not include NIH Small Grants (R03) or Exploratory/ Developmental (R21) grants or their equivalents) or project leaders on sub-projects of program project (P01) or center grants (P50) are NOT eligible to participate as BIRCWH scholars.
  9. Appointed BIRCWH scholars may apply for individual mentored K awards (e.g., K07, K08, K22, K23); if successful, the BIRCWH K12 appointment would be terminated and funding received from the new individual K award.

Selected BIRCWH Scholars Will:

  1. Complete, during their two years of funding, a course on the responsible conduct of research.
  2. Attend the BIRCWH Annual Meeting and present their scientific work.
  3. Attend the monthly 90-minute Junior Faculty Research Career Development Forum (a faculty-facilitated 12–15 person seminar focused on developing research skills, including manuscript and grant applications).
  4. Cite the grant (K12HD092535) and ensure that the manuscript is submitted for a PMCID number for any manuscripts resulting from the BIRCWH Career Development Award Program.
  5. By the end of the training program, be prepared to submit for extramural research funding (e.g. NIH, AHRQ, foundation support) for additional career development or independent research grants.
  6. Complete an annual report and present it to the BIRCWH Advisory Committee. The second year of funding is contingent upon a successful Committee review.
  7. Obtain appropriate IRB or IACUC approval before funding can be awarded. Clinical research must also complete NIH human subjects review before beginning research activities.

Mentors of BIRCWH Scholars will:

  1. Provide research support and guidance toward an independent research career, with a planned series of meeting and activities, in addition to frequent discussion and guidance as needed.
  2. Meet annually with leadership of the BIRCWH Program to review overall career activities and progress toward training goals and activities.
  3. Participate in CTSI-provided mentor training every two years.

Back to top

Instructions for Application

We are not accepting BIRCWH applications at this time. Please check back for updates.


  1. Cover sheet/Letter of Intent (PDF)
  2. One-page draft specific aims
  3. Personal data form (PDF)
  4. 1-2 paragraph(s) describing the training plan
  5. One paragraph describing how the research meets the criteria of sex or gender differences research
  6. Most recent biosketch
  7. One letter of support from the primary mentor

Please submit these documents to ResearchCareerAwards@tuftsmedicalcenter.org.

Applicants are encouraged to meet with one of the BIRCWH K12 Program Directors (Karen Freund, MD, MPH or Iris Jaffe, MD, PhD) or Lesley Inker, MD, MS, Research Director for the BIRCWH, prior to submitting a full application.

Those BIRCWH K12 applicants who are eligible for the Tufts CTSI KL2 award may use the same application for their LOI for the KL2. For more information, please see the Tufts CTSI KL2 page.

Full Application:

  1. Applicant biosketch in the new NIH format (no more than five pages)
  2. Candidate Background 
    (Items 2 and 3 combined should be no more than six pages)
    Describe (1) the candidate’s commitment to a career in research in women’s health or sex and gender differences, (2) prior training and how it relates to the immediate objectives and long-term career plans of the candidate, and (3) 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 investigator in women’s health or sex and gender differences. Include a statement that the candidate will commit at least 9 person-months (75% of full-time professional effort) to the mentored clinical scientist development 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. Career Goals and Objectives/Training Activities during the award period
    (Items 2 and 3 combined should be no more than six pages)
    Describe a 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; and (3) that utilizes the relevant research and educational resources of the institution.The career goals and objectives should reflect mentored research and career development experience leading to an independent interdisciplinary scientific career that will 1) benefit the health of women or advance research on sex/gender influences on health, and 2) encourage interdisciplinary research methodology. The candidate and the mentor are jointly responsible for the preparation of the career development plan. The didactic training (if any) and other training activities of the plan must be designed to develop the necessary knowledge and research skills in scientific areas in women’s health or sex and gender differences. Research supported under this program needs to incorporate the goals and objectives of the NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research (https://orwh.od.nih.gov/about/trans-nih-strategic-plan-womens-health-research). Individuals should be able to show that the major focus of the research training is focused on women’s health or the influence of sex and gender on health and disease.
  4. Specific Aims (no more than one page)
  5. Research Strategy (no more than six pages)
    Summarize the primary research project to be conducted during the award period.
  6. Sex and Gender Differences Research (one page)
    Please describe how this research project and your proposed research career are aligned with a focus on sex and gender differences research.
  7. Budget and Budget Justification for two years of support
    Please refer to the 2020 BIRCWH K12 Budget Instructions and Examples.
  8. Letters of support from mentors
    All applications must contain letters of support from the each of the candidate’s mentors. The candidate must indicate in their application who will serve as their primary mentor and who will serve as their secondary mentor(s). Mentors should be engaged actively as independent investigators with expertise relevant to the scholar’s area of interest. The proposed mentors must have prior experience in providing research training. The letter from the mentors must state their credentials to qualify as a mentor. The letter of support will state how the applicant will benefit from inclusion in this program as well as the mentor’s commitment to participate in the program. The selection of interdisciplinary mentors is strongly encouraged.
    The mentor letter should indicate any support from the mentors’ research program that will provide support to the trainee (such as databases already developed, animals, reagents, supplies, technicians or research assistant staff).
  9. Mentor biosketches in the new NIH format (each no more than five pages).
  10. Letter of support from the candidate’s Department Chair or Division/Section Chief
    This letter should confirm the candidate meets all eligibility requirements, including citizenship/green card status. It should also confirm the department’s commitment to 75% time devoted to research related activities, and commitment to supporting the difference in salary and fringe between the award and 75% of the candidate’s actual salary/fringe, not using federal dollars.The Departmental letter should indicate the commitment to the candidate’s research career. This could indicate past and current research support provided by the department or institution, or support following completion of this K12 towards independent research support. If the candidate does not have an academic appointment in one of the Tufts University schools at the time of application, the Department lead must attest that this is pending and will be present at the time of award.

Download 2020 BIRCWH K12 Budget Instructions and Examples

Download a BIRCWH K12 Application Checklist (PDF)

Back to top

Dates and Deadlines

  • TBD: K12 Application period begins
  • TBD: Pre-applications/letters of intent due
  • TBD: K12 full applications due
  • TBD: selected K12 scholars announced
  • TBD: K12 funding begins

Questions? Please contact:

Back to top

Frequently Asked Questions

  • My department plans to propose me for a faculty appointment for this spring, can I apply before that is approved?
    The faculty appointment must be complete by July 1, 2021. If this is in process at the time of the application, the chair/department letter should state the faculty level that has been proposed.
  • Can I apply if my mentor is not on your mentor list?
    If your mentor is not on the list, please provide the mentor’s biosketch during your pre-application. The NIH expects that mentors for these awards have their own research funding and expertise in mentoring junior faculty.
  • Should all of my mentors be at a Tufts University school?
    We strongly recommend the primary and secondary mentors be from within Tufts University or Tufts Medical Center. If expertise is needed outside our institution, we suggest this person be listed as a consultant.
  • $120,000 does not cover 75% of my salary. Can I be listed as 55% on this grant?
    The NIH requires K awardees to commit 75% effort to the career development award, whether or not the funds available cover the salary. The chair/department letter should state the chair/department is committed to ensuring 75% protected time during the duration of the award. The department can use non-federal funds to make up the difference between the dollars available in the grant and your salary and fringe benefits. These funds cannot come from someone else’s NIH grant.
  • Is there a specific research focus for these applications and awards?
    Proposals must focus on interdisciplinary basic, translational, behavioral, clinical, and/or health services research relevant to women’s health or sex and gender differences.
  • Is a faculty appointment at a Tufts-affiliated hospital required for applicants?
    Individuals with a full-time faculty appointment at the rank of Instructor or Assistant Professor, who are members of any of the Tufts CTSI partners, are eligible. In addition to faculty in the School of Medicine who work at a Tufts-affiliated hospital, faculty at other Tufts schools and centers (Nutrition and HNRCA, Arts and Science, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Dental Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences, Fletcher) are eligible to apply.  Other CTSI affiliates are not eligible for the BIRCWH K12, but are encouraged to apply to the Tufts CTSI KL2.
  • I am a Co-PI on a $200,000 foundation grant. Am I eligible to apply for a K12 award?
    No. The prior grant, even from a non-federal source, makes you ineligible to apply for this award.
  • I’ve applied in the past for a K, but the K award was triaged and not discussed. May I now apply for the BIRCWH K12?
    Yes, if the award was triaged, you may apply.
  • I submitted a K application in the last round. My application was scored, but was not in the fundable range. The grants have not yet been reviewed by council. Can I apply for the BIRCWH K12?
    If your prior application is still listed as under review on eRA Commons, then you are not eligible for a K12 award. If you have no further action/processing designation in eRA Commons (NFA/P), you are eligible to apply. Applicants for K12 appointments may not simultaneously submit or have pending an application for any other PHS mentored career development award. Please contact us if you have further questions about your specific application.

Back to top