Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Program

The Duke University School of Medicine and North Carolina Central University (NCCU) are recipients of a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) grant. The BIRCWH program is led by the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH), along with nearly a dozen other NIH Institutes and Centers. The BIRCWH is a K12 Institutional Training Grant that provides faculty at Duke or NCCU 75% salary support (50% for surgical specialties) for up to $100.000 per year for a minimum of two years. The program provides research development support to pursue research careers related to women's health and builds upon existing interdisciplinary faculty relationships to foster productive and innovative collaborations.

The purpose of the BIRCWH (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health) Faculty Development Program is to formally establish and strengthen the Women’s Health Research enterprise at Duke and NCCU. The goal is to promote interdisciplinary research and transfer findings that will benefit the health of women, including sex/gender similarities or differences in biology, health or disease. The BIRCWH Program provides advanced training, mentoring, and career guidance for junior faculty pursuing interdisciplinary research in Women’s Health leading to an independent interdisciplinary scientific career that will benefit the health of women. BIRCWH research spans the entire spectrum of Women’s Health topics, and the program is open to all types of clinicians and non-clinicians.

Junior faculty members interested in a research career in women's health are encouraged to apply.  Letters of Intent can be submitted at any time. We will invite you to submit a full application when a scholar position becomes available.


PI of the Duke/NCCU BIRCWH award:  Nancy Andrews, M.D., Ph.D.
Site-PI NCCU:  Kevin P. Williams, Ph.D.
Research Director: Amy Murtha, M.D. 
Program Coordinator:  Friederike Jayes, Ph.D.
Forward any questions to BIRCWH Program Coordinator 


BIRCWH Advisory Board 
BIRCWH mentors 

Online Courses:  "The Science of Sex and Gender in Human Health"


Duke/NCCU Current BIRCWH Scholars

Janet K. Horton, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Radiation Oncology
Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. Horton earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her M.D. from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She completed her training in Radiation Oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006. She then accepted her first faculty position as an Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University with a clinical and research emphasis on the treatment of women with breast cancer. Two years later, she was recruited to Duke in order to guide the clinical and translational radiation oncology breast cancer program.

At that time, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Mark Dewhirst. Her translational research interests are focused on using genomic and proteomic data as a basis for studying radiation response in human breast tumors and utilizing that information to design biologically based radiotherapy trials. She is currently the principal investigator of an ongoing Phase I trial evaluating a novel form of partial breast irradiation that includes pre and post-radiation tissue biopsies designed to validate her preclinical findings. Her long-term goal is to identify pathways that could be pharmacologically exploited in low and high risk breast cancer patients allowing for dose-escalation or reduction according to risk. Towards that end, she is also obtaining a Masters in Clinical Research through the Clinical Research Training Program. 

Martha E. Payne, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D.
Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Co-Director of the Neuropsychiatric Imaging Research Laboratory
Senior Fellow with the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development
Duke University

Dr. Martha Payne received a B.A. in neuroscience from Oberlin College, and an M.P.H and Ph.D. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation included a characterization of diet among individuals with late-life depression (both with and without comorbid cerebrovascular disease), associations between dietary factors and brain lesions in late-life depression, and the predictive ability of dietary quality on depression outcomes. Dr. Payne continues to focus her research efforts on depression and cerebrovascular disease, and the role that nutrition may have in modifying this relationship. Of particular interest is the role of calcium in the development of ischemic brain lesions, particular in older women with depression. Dr. Payne’s prior work indicates that higher calcium intakes are associated with greater brain lesion volumes in older adults. As a BIRCWH Scholar, Dr. Payne will examine the role of calcium in the progression of brain lesions in women with late-life depression. In addition, she will examine the role of serum calcium in the dietary calcium-brain lesion relationship.
Dr. Payne is a member of two honor societies: Delta Omega and Sigma Xi. 

 Kris C. Wood, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Duke University

Dr. Wood received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working with Paula Hammond and Robert Langer. He then completed postdoctoral training with David Sabatini at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, where he was supported by an NIH Kirschstein National Research Service Award and a Misrock Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Wood joined the Duke faculty in 2012.

The Wood laboratory develops state-of-the-art tools for large-scale, efficient, and information-rich mammalian functional genomics experiments. Further, we use these tools to address problems in basic and translational cancer biology, many of which center on the design of targeted therapeutic strategies to manipulate oncogenic signaling networks. Examples of current projects in our lab include: (1) the application of a new miniaturized screening platform to profile drug responses in human patient-derived tumor cells in real-time; (2) the development of tools to systematically elucidate the signaling pathways controlling anticancer drug responses; (3) the systematic credentialing of mutations uncovered through cancer genome sequencing projects; and (4) the use of new high-throughput experimental and computational methods to discover potent, selective anticancer drug combinations.
 ClarLynda Williams-DeVane, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Department of Biology
Director, Bioinformatics Genomics and Computational Chemistry Core
North Carolina Central University

Dr. Williams-DeVane earned her B.S in Mathematics from North Carolina Central University while working as a research technician in computational chemistry and toxicology at the US Environmental Protection Agency. She then earned her Ph.D. in Bioinformatics from North Carolina State University. She then completed a Systems Biology Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with Dr. Stephen Edwards developing data integration methods for complex diseases such as childhood asthma in the Mechanisms Indicators of Childhood Asthma (MICA). Dr. Williams joined the North Carolina Central Faculty in 2011.

Dr. Williams-DeVane’s research focuses on data science, more specifically developing data integration methods and systems for complex disease. Currently she is focused on developing data analysis and integration methods that incorporate DNA Methylation data in addition to or in the absence of other big ‘omic data, clinical, and demographic data. Dr. Williams-DeVane is particularly interested in Women Specific Complex Disease with a health disparity aspect.

Duke/NCCU Previous BIRCWH Scholars