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Johns Hopkins Pediatric

Research Programs Boost Work of Early-Career Faculty

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Collage by Jennifer Fairman, Johns Hopkins Department of Arts as Applied to Medicine



The careers of many junior faculty members in the Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics have been bolstered by three National Institutes of Health-funded K12 grant scholar programs. The programs include BIRCWH (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health), WRHR (Women’s Reproductive Health Research) and RSDP (Reproductive Scientist Development Program), and the department is among only a few in the country that have scholars supported by all three.

Andrew Satin, director of the department, leads the programs with James Segars, director of the Division of Reproductive Science and Women’s Health Research, and Victoria Handa, director of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Segars was an RSDP scholar about 30 years ago. Not only are scholars supported monetarily, they also benefit from the mentorship of senior faculty.

Satin says every scholar who has gone through the BIRCWH and WRHR programs has achieved independent funding after those programs. The department supports a grant-writing course that helps young faculty members navigate getting funding for their work.

“These programs are essential tools for developing academic faculty who conduct innovative research and discovery,” Satin says. “These researchers who have gone through these programs are going to be the foundational faculty members of the future.”


The WRHR program, for which Satin is the principal investigator, supports innovative and significant women’s health research by physician-scientists who are graduates of a Gyn/Ob residency.

Katie Cameron, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, studies the impact of infertility and infertility treatments on long-term health. Her current focus is on uterine fibroids and how they affect the in utero environment and fetal health, as well as cardiovascular implications for the mother.

“For so long, we have been focused on infertility as something that only causes a problem when an individual is trying to start a family,” Cameron says, “but many of these conditions are systemic process that may also have long-term health effects.”

Through the program, she has made connections with collaborators throughout Johns Hopkins, including the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Whiting School of Engineering, and at other institutions all over the world.

Other WRHR scholars include Ahize Eke, Kamaria Cayton Vaught and Marika Toscano.


A collaboration among the Johns Hopkins University schools of medicine, nursing and public health, the BIRCWH program supports investigators researching women’s health and sex and gender differences.

As a BIRCWH scholar from 2016–2018, obstetrician-gynecologist Carolyn Sufrin was able to conduct pioneering research on pregnant people in prison. Known as the PIPS study (Pregnancy in Prison Statistics), it collected data on the number of pregnant women in state and federal prisons and in six jails, and on the outcomes of those pregnancies — statistics that federal agencies and state prison systems historically have not tracked.

“The BIRCWH grant gave me the protected time to conduct meaningful research that, hopefully, has had an impact on improving outcomes and care for an overlooked group of pregnant individuals,” Sufrin says.

After her time as a BIRCWH scholar, Sufrin authored or co-authored 11 publications related to that research, covering such topics as how many pregnant individuals are behind bars; how many give birth, and have abortions and miscarriages; shackling and pregnancy care policies; contraception policy; abortion access; breastfeeding; and opioid use disorder. Subsequent NIH grants have allowed her to continue this work. The PIPS study also informed legislation that prompted the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics to collect pregnancy outcomes data for federal prisons, and Sufrin helped the bureau start collecting similar data for state prisons and county jails.

Other BIRCWH scholars include Jason Vaught, Angie Jelin, Anna Beavis and Anna Powell.


RSDP is a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research career development program for Gyn/Ob physicians who are studying cell and molecular biology and related fundamental sciences.

Under RSDP, physician-scientist Tiffany Jones is researching the tumor microenvironment of endometrial cancers, the interplay between cancer cells and the immune system, and how external factors such as chronic stress and social determinants of health shift tumors from indolent to more aggressive and ultimately impact prognosis, overall survival and other factors.

Thanks to the RSDP grant and her mentors, “I have a solid understanding of the science of immunotherapy, molecular targeted therapy and related areas,” she says. “I also know my mission and vision for myself in contributing to the field: harnessing the power of clinical and translation science and cutting-edge technology to empower, treat and cure those who suffer from gynecologic cancers.”

Kamaria Cayton Vaught is also an RSDP scholar.

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