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Women's Reproductive Health Research

Women's Reproductive Health Research (WRHR)

The Women's Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) program was initiated by the National Institutes of Health in response to concerns about the need for greater numbers of obstetrician-gynecologist physician scientists performing research on women's health. The K12 program provides an opportunity to build a talented pool of junior investigators in women's health research.

A WRHR grant recipient since 2005, the Brown/WIH program was recently awarded an additional 5 years of NIH funding allowing for new scholar appointments through 2015. With an exceptional group of mentors and research opportunities, the Brown/WIH program is well positioned to train the next generation of women's health researchers to perform innovative research that leads to real improvements to delivery of women's health care.

The purpose of the Brown / WIH WRHR program is to train a new cadre of women's health translational researchers that have the expertise and research skills to develop innovative research in women's reproductive health from basic science to clinical applications relevant to public health. The overarching goal of the Brown / WIH WRHR program is to provide a supportive and stimulating research environment that enables well-qualified, junior faculty physician-scientists to develop into well-funded leaders in women's reproductive health research with expertise in clinical translational research. The training program involves a tailored research and career development plan that works through intensive multidisciplinary mentoring, didactic seminars and practical hands-on research investigation.

Contact Information:

Denise Flinn, Sr. Administrative Assistant
Division of Research
Women & Infants Hospital, 101 Dudley Street, Providence, RI 02905
p. (401) 274-1122 x 48554
f. (401) 276-7871

Principle Investigator
B. Star Hampton, MD, interim chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology; professor of obstetrics and gynecology, professor of medical science, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; interim chief, obstetrics and gynecology, Women & Infants Hospital, Care New England Health System

Research Director
Kristen A. Matteson, MD, MPH, vice chair for research, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology; associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology; director, Division of Research, Women & Infants Hospital, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Women & Infants Hospital and Brown University are EEO/AA employers and actively solicit applications from minorities, women and protected persons.

The Career Objectives for Each Scholar are Focused on:

  • Acquiring the necessary knowledge and research skills in relevant scientific areas as well as key areas in women's health and translational research.
  • Professional development including management and leadership skills.
  • Developing the foundation for an independent research career through an intensive mentored research experience.

Scholars are expected to actively write grants to the level of R01 / Program Projects as they transition through and beyond the program and to continue to mentor and interact with the program even after independent funding is achieved

Appointments are for a minimum of 2 years with the opportunity to renew for up to 5 years. During this period, the scholars devote at least 75 percent of their time to research. Scholars must be eligible for a faculty position at the level of Instructor or Assistant Professor. Salary will be commensurate with experience. Scholar progress will be measured through mentor and program leadership evaluation including a number of peer-reviewed publications, scientific presentations, and grant support.

Scholar Eligibility Requirements:

At the time of appointment, candidates for support as a WRHR scholar must:

  • Be a physician holding the MD or DO degree.
  • Have completed postgraduate residency training in obstetrics/gynecology.
  • Faculty appointment or candidate can be in the final research year of postdoctoral fellowship training in obstetrics/gynecology.
  • Identify an approved mentor or mentors with extensive research experience; (see approved list below. NIH approval is needed to add new mentors).
  • Be able to devote at least 9 person months (equivalent to 75 percent) of full-time effort conducting research and research career development.
  • Not be or have been a PD/PI on an R01, R29 or subproject of a Program Project (P01), Center (P50, P60, U54) grant, independent mentored career development (K-series) grants, or other equivalent research grant awards. Individuals who are or were PD/PIs on NIH small grants (i.e. R03s) or exploratory/developmental grants (i.e. R21s) may be eligible, providing they meet the other eligibility requirements.
  • Be a US citizen or non-citizen national, or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence and possess a permanent resident card (USCIS Form 1-551) or some other verification as a permanent citizen. Individuals on temporary or student visas are no eligible.

Instructions for Applying:

Denise Flinn, Sr. Administrative Assistant, Division of Research (dflinn@wihri.org).

  • Cover letter addressed to B. Star Hampton, MD, WRHR Principal Investigator, describing reasons for applying to the program along with specific areas of interest in women's health
  • Abstract of proposed research plan, including hypothesis and specific aims (1-2 pages)
  • Personal statement, including background and career goals (1-2 pages)
  • Curriculum Vitae or NIH Biosketch
  • Three letters of recommendation, including at least one from a proposed mentor

To learn more about these mentors, including federal funding, publications and research, please search the NIH Reporter databasePubmed and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University websites.

Current WRHR Scholars

Matthew T. Oliver, MD

January 2019 – present
“Microenvironment of epithelial ovarian cancer - microRNA, immune regulation, and identification of potential tumorigenic biomarkers using patient derived blood, urine and tissue samples.”

Mentors: Richard Freiman, Jennifer Ribeiro, Katina Robison

Sarah M. Davis, MD

February 2017 - present
“Mechanisms underlying obstetric pathobiology: The study of cell-free fetal DNA, TLR9 mediated inflammation, IL-10 and parturition using human in vitro modeling.”

Mentors: Surenda Sharma, James Padbury, Katherine Wenstrom

Previous WRHR Scholars

E. Christine Brousseau, MD

January 15, 2014 – December 31, 2018
“Improving obstetric care to underserved Rhode Island women: Expanding the role of prison health”

Independent funding:
Rhode Island Foundation – “Improving Obstetric Care to Underserved Rhode Island Women: Expanding the Role of Prison Health” Constance Howes Grant – “A Pilot Study to Improve Contraceptive Access in an Underserved Population of Women” (1/2019 – 12/2020)

Katina Robison, MD

Katina Robison, MD March, 2009-July, 2011 October, 2012-September, 2015

Independent Funding:
PCORI - “Cancer of the Uterus and Treatment of Stress Urinary Incontinence” (2015-2018)

Kristen A. Matteson, MD, MPH

January, 2006 – September, 2008
Received NICHD-funded K23 mentored career development award "A Comprehensive Patient Based Outcome Measure for Heavy Menstrual Bleeding"

Independent Funding:
NIH K23 - "A Comprehensive Patient Based Outcome Measure for Heavy Menstrual Bleeding" (2008-2013)
NIH R01 - "The Levonorgestrel Intrauterine System Versus Combined Oral Contraceptives for Heavy Menses" (2013-2017)

Vivian Sung, MD, MPH, FACOG

July, 2006 – June, 2009
Received NICHD-funded K23 mentored career development award "Patient-Reported Outcomes in Functioning for Female Pelvic Floor Disorders"

Independent Funding:
NIH K23 - "Patient-reported Outcomes in Functioning for Female Pelvic Floor Disorders" (2009-2014)
NIH R21 - "Tailored Outcomes for Female Urinary Incontinence" (2011-2013)
NIH U10 - "The Pelvic Floor Disorders Network (PFDN) - Brown/Women and Infants Site" (2011-2016)

Vinita Goyal, MD

November 1, 2010 – June, 2013
Contraceptive Use Among Female Military

Veterans Independent Funding:
Society for Family Planning - "Comparing Contraceptive Choices and Continuation among Post-Abortion Patients with and without Free Access to Long-Active Reversible Contraception" (2014-Present)

Brenna L. Hughes, MD

July 2006 – August 2009
Received NICHD-funded K23 mentored career development award “The role of mucosal immunity in risk of HIV acquisition during pregnancy” (2009-2014)

Independent funding:
NICHD U01 – “Cooperative Multicenter Maternal Fetal Medicine Units Network” – Alternate PI (2009 -2016)
CDC & National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities U01 - “Clinical Trial of Behavioral Modification to Prevent Congenital Cytomegalovirus” (2012-2014)
NIAID - “Identification of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Shedding in the Female Genital Tract of Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women by GeneXpert PCR, Routine PCR, and Culture” Site Principal Investigator (2015-2016)