Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health

Welcome to the Oregon BIRCWH

The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH), in the Director's Office of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), established the BIRCWH Program in 2002 to advance mentored research career development of junior faculty who will be engaged in interdisciplinary basic, behavioral, clinical, or health services research in women's health. The Oregon BIRCWH program is dedicated to training tomorrow's leaders in women's health research.

The Oregon BIRCWH program at Oregon Health & Science University creates a stimulating and nurturing environment for junior faculty to develop into leading scientists in Women's Health. We provide a mentored scholarly research experience, including both salary support and protected time, which are absolutely essential to achieving success in scientific inquiry.  

Our program's unifying theme is our emphasis on a lifespan approach and the importance of sex and gender-based differences in the diagnosis and treatment of illness in women. Research that can identify and modify events related to health and disease at any one point in the lifespan of a woman will affect all dimensions of health throughout her lifespan. 

Our curriculum cultivates junior faculty to develop productive investigational careers in Women's Health and sex and gender-based medicine. This will be accomplished through direct supervision of scientific direction, grant proposal development, career issues, and coursework. "Parallel" mentoring, where new investigators mentor each other, has been found to be extremely effective and is a key component of the program.

This program brings together investigators from many research areas and encourages interactions across scientific areas, encompassing basic and clinical research. More important, however, we expect an outcome that cannot be achieved solely by interactions among researchers in any one domain. That is, a focus on lifespan will result in innovative research ideas and new scientific collaborations to address the changing health needs of women from childhood to senescence.

The BIRCWH program at OHSU is important for three reasons:

  1. There remains a critical need to increase the number of scientists trained both in sex and gender differences in disease who use a lifespan approach.
  2. The emphasis upon an integrated and collaborative pattern will set the stage for life-long research across specialties and approaches that our interdisciplinary Centers at OHSU provide.
  3. Identified differences and new insights from a sex and gender-based approach will define new target research areas as well as increase collaboration.

The leadership, Dr. Daniel Dorsa, Ph.D., and Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise, M.D., M.P.H., reflects the Oregon BIRCWH's vision for an interactive and cooperative approach to career development and research. Their distinct backgrounds and different career pathways - Dr. Dorsa in the area of basic science research and Dr. Guise in the area of clinical research - reflect the essential melding of backgrounds needed to catalyze outstanding interdisciplinary research. The unique juxtaposition of leadership styles and positions in the institution complement each other to expand the reach of women's health research and career development across OHSU.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Dan Dorsa is senior vice president for research and principal investigator for the BIRCWH program.

Dr. Dorsa received his Ph.D. in Endocrinology and Physiology from the University of California and has been at OHSU since 2002. He administers and coordinates academic research at OHSU's three schools.

Dr. Dorsa has been an active NIH funded investigator for more than 30 years in endocrinology and women's health research. The Dorsa laboratory examines the cellular and molecular events which mediate the effects of estrogen on gene transcription in brain neurons and glia. Classical actions of estrogen involving nuclear hormone receptor dimerization and binding to consensus hormone response elements, as well as "cross-talk" with other protein kinase-dependent signal transduction pathways such as protein kinase A, and the mitogen activated protein kinases are studied. The lab also investigates the relative roles of estrogen receptor-subtypes (ERa and ERb) in these responses. The interest is in understanding membrane initiated events in neuroendocrine regulation, reproductive behavior, and neurotropic effects in the developing and aging brain.

Dr. Dorsa has trained numerous graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and clinical fellows, including M.D. and Ph.D. students. Dr. Dorsa recognizes the importance of mentorship in developing successful academic research careers. As such, he has worked with the BIRCWH program for many years serving as primary mentor and principal investigator. He believes the BIRCWH program is a unique resource to OHSU and an exemplar for interdisciplinary science in women's health research.

Co-principal Investigator and Program Director

Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise is co-principal investigator and program director for the BIRCWH program.

Dr. Guise brings over 15 years of experience with K programs as a K12 and K08 scholar, BIRCWH mentor, BIRCWH program director, and study section reviewer for both individual and program K12 programs. She was one of OHSU's first NICHD WRHR K12 scholars, and was the first WRHR graduate to receive independent funding within the first 2 years of her K12 award. She is a successful independent investigator as PI, co-PI, or co-investigator of federally-funded R01s and center grants and is dedicated to interdisciplinary research, research training, and leadership. Her own research promotes patient safety and interdisciplinary team science ranging from epidemiology and randomized clinical trials to information technology and simulation.

Dr. Guise is the Director of the State Obstetric and Pediatric Research Collaboration (STORC), Director of the Oregon Institute for Patient-Centered Comparative Effectiveness and Associate Director of the Scientific Resource Center (SRC) at the Portland VA Research Foundation. Through these roles she is able to facilitate connections for BIRCWH scholars, assist in dissemination of their results, and facilitate new programs for career development, research, and women's health on a broader institutional level.

Research team

Program Coordinator:
Daniel Bouchat, B.S.

Program Manager:
Tabria Harrod, M.P.H.

Faculty support, health and wellness

  • The Resident and Faculty Wellness Program: The OHSU School of Medicine offers numerous services aimed at clinician wellness and reducing burnout. Residents, fellows, and primary SoM faculty have access to free and confidential counseling and coaching services.

Academic leadership

Building leadership skills is a sometimes overlooked component of a research career and can lead to a lack of advancement into academic leadership roles. The following resources are aimed at building these skills and expanding the pool of qualified candidates for leadership roles.

  • BIRCWH Leadership Webinars: The Emory University BIRCWH program hosts quarterly webinars with speakers from the NIH and national BIRCWH programs who speak on their journey and various topics centered around academic leadership development. This link has full videos from all past webinars.
  • Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM): The Drexel University-based ELAM program offers a one-year intensive fellowship centered around leadership coaching, networking, and mentoring. The aim of the program is to increase the number of qualified women candidates for leadership positions in academia. Applications for the next cycle will be due later in 2019.
  • AAMC Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar: This 3.5 day leadership seminar is designed for women at the instructor or assistant professor level. This seminar provides hands-on mentorship and skill-building from experienced senior faculty around the country with goal of advancing women along the path to leadership. The next seminar is July 2019 in St. Louis.
  • AAMC Mid Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar: This 3.5 day seminar offers the same resources as the early career seminar, but is meant for women physicians and scientists at the Associate Professor role or higher (8-15 years experience in academic medicine or science). Leadership topics covered are specifically relevant to mid-career women faculty. The next seminar is December 2019 in New Orleans.

Sharing research and open science

It can be difficult to know how and when to share your data and how best to practice open science while protecting your work. Below are resources to help ensure your research is reproducible, rigorous, and transparent.

  • Research Data: An example from Heart and Lung on how authors are asked to share their research data. This includes details on data linking, using Mendeley Data, and creating a data statement.
  • Open Science: These resources elaborate on the FAIR data principles, which state that data should be (1) Findable, (2) Accessible, (3) Interoperable, and (4) Reusable. Following these principles can ensure your data is reusable through proper data management and stewardship.
    • FORCE11: The FAIR Data Principles
    • DTL: The FAIR Data Principles explained
    • SNSF: Explanation of the FAIR Data Principles

Publishing and writing

Publications and journal selection are an integral part of a research career. Resources below can help you in publishing, finding the right journal, and making your work more likely to be accepted at your journal of choice.

  • Text Structure Analysis: This table can help you find patterns and structure in a journal's recently published articles. Using articles with similar methodology to structure your article's text can increase your writing power and productivity.

We are currently accepting applications for an appointment to the BIRCWH K12 Program starting as soon as October 1, 2019. Please see the RFP below for more details on eligibility, support, and application components. Applications can be submitted through OHSU's Competitive Application Portal (CAP) and are due Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

Document: Request for Proposals

Please contact Program Director, Jeanne-Marie Guise, MD, MPH or Program Coordinator, Daniel Bouchat for more information.


Successful applicants to the Oregon BIRCWH will:

  • Have a clinical doctorate or PhD degree or its equivalent
  • Not have more than six years of research training or experience after their doctoral degree
  • Have completed any postgraduate training normally expected for a faculty appointment in their respective field (including clinical or postdoctoral fellowship training, or residency if they have chosen not to subspecialize)
  • Be a US citizen or possess an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-155)
  • Have identified mentors with extensive research experience
  • Be able to dedicate at least 75% of full-time professional effort to women's health and/or sex/gender differences research
  • Have a faculty appointment (assistant professor or higher) at OHSU at time of appointment to the BIRCWH
  • Must NOT be a PI on an R01 or or subproject of a Program Project (P01), Center (P50, P60, P20, P30, U54) grant, independent mentored career development (K-series)grants, or other equivalent research grant awards;except for R03 and R21

More detailed information on scholar requirements is available from the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) Request for Applicants eligibility information. (Under "3. Additional Information on Eligibility - Scholars")

Selection criteria

Scholars will be selected based upon their perceived potential to develop into academically and scientifically successful investigators in women's health and/or sex/gender differences in health. Several factors will be used to evaluate this potential:

  1. Candidate's qualifications and dedication to women's health and/or sex/gender differences, research and academics
  2. Availability and dedication of qualified mentors
  3. Departmental commitment to the individual, in terms of:  complete protection of 75% of their time to research for the tenure of their scholarship and provision of space, equipment, and providing salary gap in excess of BIRCWH commitment
  4. Scientific and technical merit of proposed research
  5. Demonstrated potential for becoming a successful independent investigator in women's health and/or sex/gender differences research
  6. Demonstration that this BIRCWH program is a good fit for the candidate to foster their career as a highly productive investigator

If you would like to be notified when a new application cycle is opened, please email Daniel Bouchat.

To find out more about our program, ask a question, or get involved, email BIRCWH

Program Director: Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise, M.D., M.P.H.

Program Manager: Tabria Harrod, M.P.H., 503-494-7217

Program Coordinator: Daniel Bouchat, B.S., 503-494-1859