Meeting Showcases Progress of Women’s Health Scholars
The Office of Research on Women’s Health recently held the 2018 Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) annual meeting. Created in 2000 as one of ORWH’s signature programs, BIRCWH connects junior faculty (scholars) and senior faculty with shared interest in women’s health and sex-differences research. Through collaborative partnerships with the ICs, BIRCWH has funded 700 scholars since its inception and currently supports 60 scholars through K12 awards to 20 institutions.
Presenting the keynote Ruth L. Kirschstein Memorial Lecture Series talk was Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise, principal investigator of a BIRCWH K12 awarded to the Oregon Health & Science University. She discussed the importance of mentorship.
“Academic careers are like adolescence,” said Guise. As junior faculty progress toward greater independence—and possibly make some missteps along the way—mentors provide necessary guidance and protection, allowing room to learn from those mistakes and other experiences. She stressed multigenerational research and multidirectional mentoring to promote greater fusion and help address the complexity and scope of problems science faces today. She ended with a discussion of core competencies—including passion, tenacity, civility, connectivity, creativity, courage, diversity and energy—that are needed in science and can be fostered through mentoring.
The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on curriculum development for training in the consideration of sex as a biological variable (SABV) in research. SABV is important to the reproducibility and rigor of science. In accordance with NIH policy, scientists funded by the agency need to factor sex into the design, analysis and reporting of studies across the research spectrum.
The meeting also included presentations by four BIRCWH scholars and a mentoring and networking session staffed by multiple ICs.
The meeting ended with a poster session featuring research from 46 scholars supported by the BIRCWH program. A videocast of the plenary session is available at https://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?Live=28502&bhcp=1. —Mark B. Johnson