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NIH Requests Input on Updated Definition of “Behavioral and Social Sciences Research”

On January 14, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a request for information (RFI): Request for Information (RFI): Input on Revised Definition of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at NIH (NOT-OD-19-032). NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is in the process of updating the definition of “behavioral and social sciences research” (BSSSR) that it uses to assess and monitor NIH BSSR funding. The current definition was originally developed in 1996 but has been updated periodically since then. Like the current definition, the proposed definition is somewhat lengthy (the full definition is included in the RFI). It begins:

“The behavioral and social sciences at the NIH include a multi-disciplinary set of research disciplines that have in common the study of behavior and social processes relevant to health.

“BSSR at the NIH involves the systematic study of behavioral and social phenomena, as well as their causes and consequences:

    • ‘Behavioral’ refers to overt or observable actions and to mental phenomena such as knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, cognitions, and emotions that are inferred from behavior.
    • ‘Social’ refer to the interactions between and among individuals, and to the activities of social groups, institutions, and environments, including family, community, school, workplace, economic, cultural, and policy environments.”

NIH is interested in comments that discuss whether the new definition is clear, whether it captures the full range of the NIH’s health-related behavioral and social sciences research, and how well it distinguishes BSSR from other disciplines of research. Comments will be collected through OBSSR’s crowdsourcing IdeaScale website and must be submitted by February 22, 2019.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 22), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

December COSSA Headlines to Feature OBSSR Director

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat on December 13 a 2:00 PM Eastern, in which COSSA staff recap the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer participants’ questions. The December chat will feature a deep dive discussion with Dr. William (Bill) Riley, Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who will give an update on new initiatives at OBSSR and discuss the next steps for NIH’s controversial clinical trials policy. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 11), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

OBSSR Soliciting Papers for 11th Annual Matilda White Riley Honors

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking paper submissions for its Early Stage Investigator Paper Competition as part of the 11th Annual Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Science Honors. Early stage investigators are encouraged to submit one published article from 2017 that reflects social and behavioral science advancements helping to enhance life, lengthen life, reduce illness, and reduce disability. Honorees will present their findings on May 31, 2018 in a public event on the NIH campus. Submissions are due by February 18 and more information can be found on the OBSSR website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

OBSSR to Host Annual Research Festival on December 8

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is hosting the “NIH Behavioral and Social Science Research Festival: Connecting People to Advance Health” on Friday, December 8. The festival will bring together behavioral and social scientists from inside and outside NIH to network, collaborate, and share ideas. The agenda will include a keynote address from Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities as well as plenary sessions on international research, behavioral neuroscience, and social factors and health. This event will not be webcast. More details and registration information can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Collins to Stay on at NIH; Two Other Leadership Positions Announced

On June 6, the President announced that National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins will stay on as NIH director. As previously reported, Collins was asked to remain in the position in January by the new administration. Collins continues to enjoy support of the Republican leadership of committees with jurisdiction over the NIH. He was officially appointed to the post despite a May 22 letter from 41 conservative House members urging the President to appoint someone whose views are more aligned the Administration’s “pro-life direction,” citing embryonic stem cell research and human cloning as examples. In addition, NIH recently announced the appointments of Norman E. Sharpless as the next director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Christine Hunter as Deputy Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR).

On June 12, Collins announced the appointment of Dr. Norman E.  Sharpless as the next NCI director. Dr. Sharpless is currently serving as the director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) Lineberger (NCI-designated) Comprehensive Cancer Center and as the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research. Sharpless earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from UNC-CH and completed his medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care.

OBSSR Director William Riley also recently announced the appointment of Christine Hunter as Deputy Director. She will begin her tenure August 7. Hunter is currently the Director of Behavioral Research at the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and is a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). At NIDDK, Dr. Hunter led the revision of the NIH Obesity Research Strategic Plan “and developed and led the NIDDK Centers for Diabetes Translation Research,” according to an announcement circulated to OBSSR staff.

Dr. Hunter serves on the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), the Opportunity Network for Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OppNet), the Science of Behavior Change (SOBC), and the Behavior and Environment Subcommittee of the NIH Obesity Research Task Force. As a member of the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Coordinating Committee, Dr. Hunter served on the NIH OBSSR Strategic Plan Working Group.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 13), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

OBSSR Holds 10th Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors; Mark Hayward Delivers 2017 Lecture

On April 25, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) hosted its 10th annual celebration honoring Matilda White Riley’s influence in social and behavioral sciences conducted and supported by the NIH. In 2016, OBSSR renamed the celebration Real Life, Labs, Research: Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors. The ceremony honors a “who’s who of behavioral and social science research,” noted current OBSSR director Bill Riley (no relation).

Mark Hayward, Professor of Sociology, Centennial Commission Professor in the Liberal Arts, and director of the Population Health Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, gave this year’s Matilda White Riley Excellence Lecture, entitled: Reimagining the Dynamic Association between Education and U.S. Adult Mortality in a Fast Changing Policy Environment.” A common thread in Hayward’s work includes “understanding how socioeconomic status— especially education—as well as gender, marital status, and race/ethnicity shape health inequalities in later life. He has also explored the role of behavioral factors in health and health disparities including nutrition, body weight, and tobacco use.” The celebration was also expanded to include an early stage investigator paper competition. This year’s Early Stage Investigator awardees included Erika Fuchs, University of Texas Medical Branch; Emily Hohman, Pennsylvania State University; Frank Infurna, Arizona State University; and Jacqueline Torres, University of California, San Francisco. The winners of the paper competition also presented their research. A videocast of the 2017 celebration is available here.

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Posted in Issue 9 (May 2), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

OBSSR Director Comments on 2017-2021 Strategic Plan

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Director William (Bill) Riley recently released commentaries on the office’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan three scientific priorities.

  • Priority One: Improve the synergy of basic and applied behavioral and social sciences research
  • Priority Two: Enhance and promote the research infrastructure, methods, and measures needed to support a more cumulative and integrated approach to behavioral and social sciences research
  • Priority Three: Facilitate the adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings in health research and in practice.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Friends of NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Submit Statement in Support of OBSSR

On March 9, COSSA, as co-chair of the Friends of NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (Friends of NIH BSSR) with the American Psychological Association (a COSSA founding member), submitted a statement for the record in support of the National Institutes of Health and its Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). The statement emphasizes that the behavioral and social sciences are integral to the NIH mission and highlights the fact NIH supports behavioral and social science research throughout its 27 institutes and centers. The Friends of NIH BSSR is a coalition of professional organizations, scientific societies, and research institutions concerned with the promotion of and funding for research in the social and behavioral sciences.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Date Change: 10th Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors

The date for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) 10th Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors has been changed to April 25 on the NIH campus. The Honors program pays tribute to the “research trajectory and continuing influence of Dr. Matilda White Riley in the behavioral and social sciences across and beyond” the NIH. For more information about the program see the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research’s website.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

2017 Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Paper Awards: Call for Papers

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) has issued a call for papers/articles for its Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Paper Awards. The Paper Awards was launched in 2016.This year’s ceremony scheduled for May 5 is the 10th anniversary of Matilda White Riley Day, which commemorates Matilda White Riley’s contributions to the NIH and to behavioral and social sciences research. Awards will be presented on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The deadline for submission is February 1, 2017. Awardees will be notified March 8, 2017. For more information, including on past recipients, see the OBSSR’s website.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 24), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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