Director’s Voice Blog
15 Years of Recognizing Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Excellence at NIH

Since 2006, the OBSSR annually hosts an event to celebrate Dr. Matilda White Riley’s influence and contributions to the social and behavioral sciences. In its 15th year, the NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors will be held virtually on Friday, June 3, 2022, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. This half-day event features a keynote address from the 2022 Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. David R. Williams, and highlights innovative research from five Early-Stage Investigator (ESI) Honorees, who were selected out of more than 250 submissions to our ESI paper competition. I hope you will join us in learning from and celebrating the accomplishments of these excellent scholars. Register today.
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Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Spotlights

Addressing insomnia among Black women using cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia delivered via a tailored, internet-based intervention
Insomnia is a significant public health concern, and one that disproportionately impacts Black women. Although cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) is a standard treatment for this condition, there is limited research on the efficacy of CBT-i among this population. A recently published study supported by the NIA, NCI, PCORI and others demonstrates the importance of developing evidence-based, tailored treatments for addressing insomnia symptoms among Black women.
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Social connections influence the brain structure of nonhuman primates
Social relationships are driven by factors like status and alliances and in the context of primates which thrive in large complex social groups. The large computational demands of living in large, complex social groups has been hypothesized to be a crucial factor driving the evolution of the primate brain size. However, whether and how the diverse components of primates’ natural social lives relate to brain structure remain largely unexplored., these factors may be linked to primate brain size over time. In a recent study funded by the NIMH, NIA, NSF, and others sought to understand the relationship between primate neuroanatomy and social factors in free-ranging rhesus macaques.
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Socioeconomic factors affect patient outcomes for those being treated with pharmacotherapy for depression despite receiving equal access to care
Recently published research supported by the NIMH, NICHD, and others examined the impact of socioeconomic factors on pharmacotherapy treatment outcomes among adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). The research suggests that individuals who are socioeconomically disadvantaged (e.g., no college degree, unemployed, low income) demonstrate worse mental health outcomes than persons with higher socioeconomic status.
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News and Events

Register: Dr. David R. Williams and ESI Honorees on June 3

15th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors 
Friday, June 3, 2022
1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET (virtual event)
Register and view the agenda and speaker biographies: 

2022 NIH Matilda White Riley Distinguished Lecturer:
David R. Williams, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Florence & Laura Norman Professor of Public Health
Chair, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences,
Harvard Chan School of Public Health
Professor of African and African American Studies,
Harvard University
Presenting: The Virus of Racism: Understanding its Threats, Mobilizing Defenses

2022 NIH Matilda White Riley ESI Honorees and Presentations: 
Noli Brazil, Ph.D., 
University of California, Davis
The multidimensional clustering of health and its ecological risk factors

Keita Christophe, Ph.D., McGill University
Shift-&-Persist and discrimination predicting depression across the life course: An accelerated longitudinal design using MIDUS I-III

Patricia Homan, Ph.D., Florida State University
Structural intersectionality as a new direction for health disparities research

John W. Jackson, Sc.D., Johns Hopkins University
Meaningful causal decompositions in health equity research

Alina I. Palimaru, Ph.D., RAND Corporation
Mental health, family functioning, and sleep in cultural context among American Indian/Alaska Native urban youth: A mixed methods analysis


Register Today


NIH Director’s Lecture: Damien Fair, Ph.D., on June 1

The Future of Non-invasive Functional Imaging in the Era of Big Data
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Damien Fair, Ph.D.
Professor, Institute of Child Development
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Redleaf Endowed Director, Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain
University of Minnesota

The Fair laboratory focuses on mechanisms and principles that underlie the developing brain. The majority of this work uses functional MRI and resting state functional connectivity MRI to assess typical and atypical populations. Dr. Fair is the co-director of the new Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain.

View the Videocast

SBE COVID Coordinating Center Website

The Social, Behavioral, and Economic COVID Coordinating Center (SBE CCC), led by ICPSR, provides a nexus for communication on COVID-19 related research, streamlining information-sharing across the behavioral and social science community, multiple NIH award recipients, and the public. It promotes collaborative work across a multidisciplinary research community, each with different missions, cultures, and ethos. In addition, the project provides teaching materials, data, and opportunities to apply for pilot studies on the impacts of COVID-19 among minority populations.

SBE CCC works with members of the SBE COVID Consortium, a group of NIH-funded teams investigating the social, behavioral, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SBE CCC website is now live. The website includes news and announcementswebinars and podcasts, and featured publications, all on topics related to SBE COVID research.

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Release of PATH Study Data Tables and Figures

The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study is a nationally representative, longitudinal cohort study of tobacco use and how it affects the health of people in the United States. A collaboration between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the PATH Study was launched in 2011 and the first wave of data collection started in 2013. It is one of the first large tobacco research efforts undertaken by the NIH and the FDA since Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009. A series of cross-sectional and longitudinal tables and figures providing national estimates on tobacco use among youth (aged 12-17), young adults (aged 18-24), and adults (aged 25+) using data from Waves 1-5 (2013-2019) of the PATH Study are now are available for public use at PATH Study Data Tables and Figures: Wave 1-5 (2013-2019). These tables and figures provide estimates stratified by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment to provide information on differences in tobacco use patterns across these important demographic subgroups. Learn more about the PATH Study at

Recently Published Funding Announcements

RFI: Challenges and Opportunities in Health and Science Communication Research

Notice Number

Key Dates
Release Date: April 26, 2022
Response Date: May 27, 2022

The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit input from the broad community regarding opportunities and challenges in health and science communication research.

View NOT-RM-22-012

RFI: Identification of a Set of Determinants for Whole Person Health

Notice Number

Key Dates
Release Date: April 4, 2022
Response Date: June 17, 2022

The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit public comment on defining a set of key determinants of health that addresses all the elements of the whole person health model, i.e., factors that can influence health either positively or negatively, and that encompass the full continuum of biological, behavioral, social, and environmental domains.

View NOT-AT-22-019

NOSI: IMPROVE Initiative: Implementation Science to Advance Maternal Health and Maternal Health Equity

Notice Number

Key Dates
First Available Due Date: June 5, 2022
Expiration Date: July 17, 2022

The purpose of this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) is to stimulate dissemination and implementation research on innovative approaches built on evidence-based findings from foundational research on factors that contribute to maternal morbidity and mortality (MMM). This NOSI will support the development and implementation of strategies to inform integrated efforts involving policy and practice changes to improve preconception, pregnancy, perinatal, and postpartum care and advance maternal health and maternal health equity.

View NOT-OD-22-125

NOSI: Administrative Supplements for Research of Emerging and Existing Issues of COVID-19 Related to the Health and Well-Being of Women, Children and Individuals with Physical and/or Intellectual Disabilities

Notice Number

Key Dates
First Available Due Date: April 29, 2022
Expiration Date: June 6, 2024

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to provide an opportunity for funded researchers in these various fields to pursue supplemental funding to conduct research addressing these emerging and other existing COVID-related issues among pregnant and lactating people, infants, children and adolescents, and individuals with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. The goal of this NOSI is to not replace or to compete with the various COVID-related funding opportunities currently available. Instead, the purpose is to complement them by offering a funding opportunity for currently funded investigators to address key issues not currently covered by available COVID-related funding announcements among these populations.

View NOT-HD-22-003

BSSR Accomplishments

The NIH has been an instrumental leader in shaping and supporting behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR) to improve the nation’s health. Integrated with advances in other scientific disciplines, BSSR has made substantial contributions to the prevention or treatment of numerous physical health and mental health conditions.

In collaboration with subject matter experts from Institutes, Centers, and Offices across NIH, OBSSR has summarized some of the important scientific advances that demonstrate the valuable contribution of BSSR across various health conditions and behaviors. These summaries are provided as fact sheets (PowerPoint slides forthcoming) that highlight a significant public health problem and the corresponding BSSR-informed approaches used to address the problem. Various audiences such as academic researchers, public health organizations, and other health federal agencies, may find these materials useful to demonstrate to their stakeholders the importance of BSSR to the health of the United States population.

These new BSSR accomplishment resources are available on the OBSSR website: Improving Sleep; Managing Chronic Pain; Preventing and Treating Diabetes; Preventing Intimate Partner Violence, Reducing Teen Pregnancy; Reducing Tobacco Use; Treating Depression; Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Treating Phobias; and Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Additional BSSR accomplishments will be added to the website in 2022.

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BSSR Clinical Trials Resources

The Clinical Trials Protocol Template for the Behavioral and Social Sciences is a resource for communicating the science, methods, and operations of a clinical trial. This template is a suggested format for clinical trials that are testing a behavioral or social intervention or experimental manipulation. Use of the protocol template is encouraged but not required.

The Behavioral and Social Clinical Trials Template was derived from the successful NIH-FDA Phase 2/3 IND-IDE Clinical Trial Template but was adapted to include terminology and approaches used by behavioral and social scientists.

While the template is a suggested format for clinical trials that are testing a behavioral or social intervention or manipulation for which a stand-alone clinical protocol is required, the template can also be a useful tool for those trials funded by NIH Institutes or Centers that do not require stand-alone clinical protocols. Using the template to anticipate decision points and potential challenges before a study launches can help avoid subsequent delays and problems.

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Social and Behavioral Good Clinical Practice eCourse

In September 2016, the NIH issued a Policy on Good Clinical Practice (GCP) Training for NIH Awardees Involved in NIH-funded Clinical Trials. GCP is an international ethical and scientific quality standard for designing, conducting, recording and reporting clinical trials. The principles of GCP help assure the safety, integrity, and quality of clinical trials. Investigators and clinical trial staff who are competent in GCP principles will be better able to assure that the rights, safety, and well-being of human subjects are protected; that clinical trials are conducted in accordance with approved plans and with rigor and integrity; and that data derived from clinical trials are reliable.

Extramural Researchers can go here to take the course.
NIH Employees can go here to take the course. (NIH login required)
Educational Facilities can Download the Good Clinical Practices for Social and Behavioral Sciences Course for your educational facility’s Learning Management System (LMS).

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