Contributors to Independent Research Funding Success from the Perspective of K12 BIRCWH Program Directors

Esther Choo, Shammarie Mathis, Tabria Harrod, Katherine E. Hartmann, Karen M. Freund, Marie Krousel-Wood, Thomas E. Curry, Jeanne Marie Guise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Faculty training awards are an important means of advancing early career faculty in research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) is a long-running K12 career development program and has been integral in promoting the research success of faculty nationally. We surveyed BIRCWH program directors to understand factors likely to influence long-term research careers and funding success. Materials and Methods: We developed an online survey containing open-ended questions about individual and programmatic attributes and activities that promote success in achieving independent research funding. Domains of interest included: 1) strategies for funding success; 2) traits for predicting success; 3) groups considered vulnerable to attrition; and 4) existing resources and means of support. Results: Fifteen institutions (75%) were included in the final analysis. Passion for research, persistence, resilience, and strong mentorship relationships were identified by all directors as factors important to scholar success. Responses also revealed an important pattern: program directors attributed attrition either to individual or organizational characteristics. This distinction has meaningful consequences for framing efforts to diminish attrition. Faculty who were clinicians, women, parents and underrepresented minorities were identified as vulnerable to attrition from the research careers. Common perceived challenges in these groups included isolation/feeling alienated, juggling numerous priorities, inadequate research time, lack of role models, and work-life balance issues. Conclusion: K12 BIRCWH directors identified persistence and resilience and developing community, networks, and other support opportunities as elements of scholar success. Programs and mentors can help early career faculty by teaching skills and providing tools they can use to maximize the value of these opportunities and expand their mentees’ research relationships. Our study also highlights the importance of social factors, particularly isolation, on clinicians, women, and minoritized scholars on career success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-603
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Awards and prizes
  • Faculty
  • Financial management
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Mentors
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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