On behalf of the organizations we lead, the Population Association of America and Association of Population Centers, we thank Dr. William Riley, Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR), for his dedicated service to the agency and his commitment to the population sciences during his years leading OBSSR.
NIH is the primary source of discretionary, competitive funding for the population sciences. The NIH OBSSR provides supplemental funding for projects approved by other NIH Institutes and Centers. In certain instances, OBSSR funding has been the decisive factor, enabling research surveys, centers, and projects to secure necessary support. Within the population research field, OBSSR has played a similar pivotal role, funding, for example, large-scale longitudinal surveys and attracting trans-NIH support for population research initiatives and training programs.
As the OBSSR Director, Dr. Riley has not only funded population research priorities, but also represented our field’s needs in deliberations with other NIH and Administration officials. When appropriate, he communicated our concerns to Administration officials and worked to resolve outstanding issues affecting our field. Under his leadership, NIH upheld funding for health economics research and incorporated the behavioral and social sciences into numerous NIH strategic plans, research initiatives, and policies. In addition, Dr. Riley worked tirelessly to negotiate an agreement granting NIH-supported investigators with access, free-of-charge, to the National Center for Health Statistics National Death Index (NDI). Consistently, Dr. Riley was accessible and receptive to the scientific societies, including the PAA and APC, encouraging honest feedback and engagement.
The population sciences are grateful to Dr. Riley for leading OBSSR—often under challenging and tumultuous circumstances. We wish Dr. Riley well in his retirement and, once again, thank him for his commitment to advancing and promoting the behavioral and social sciences and for expertly leading OBSSR.
Dr. Robert A. Hummer, PAA President
Dr. Sara R. Curran, APC President