Director’s Voice Blog

Behavioral and Social Sciences and Advancing the Health and Well-being of LGBTQI+ People. This blog is co-authored with Christina Dragon, MSPH, CHES, NIH’s Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office.

OBSSR’s mission includes enhancing the impact of health-related behavioral and social sciences research and communicating health-related findings from these studies to various stakeholders within and outside the federal government.

This mission includes a cross-cutting focus on health equity and the strategic priority to “enhance and promote the research infrastructure, methods, and measures needed to support a more cumulative and integrated approach to behavioral and social sciences research.” These complement the inclusion of research on health disparities experienced by sexual and gender minorities (SGM) to improve minority health outcomes and healthcare access in the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021–2025.

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Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Spotlights

The use of mobile devices for calming preschool-aged children may interfere with child development

Mobile devices and digital media are increasingly being used by caregivers to keep children calm and occupied. This use has grown in popularity over the past two decades as mobile devices have become ubiquitous. Past research has shown that time spent watching television, other screen time, and playing video/computer games are associated with deficits in executive functioning and poor emotional regulation among children. However, most of this research has been cross-sectional and unable to suggest long-term consequences for child development. Furthermore, few studies have examined the use of mobile devices for the specific purpose of calming young children.

Recently published work by NICHD and NCATS aimed to explore the longitudinal associations between the use of mobile devices for calming and executive functioning as well as emotional reactivity among children aged 3 to 5 years.

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Community-sourced recommendations from Latinx Trans and Non-Binary Individuals to promote cancer prevention

Research shows that trans and non-binary (TNB) individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer and were less likely to receive treatment for kidney and pancreas cancers. Additionally, data published by the American Cancer Society indicates that cancer is the leading cause of mortality within the Latinx community, both within the continental United States as well as its territories. The National Cancer Database published a countrywide cancer study that indicated TNB individuals are at greater risk of suffering from liver, skin, colorectal, and lymphoma cancers, and experience higher rates of mortality after receiving a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s, prostrate, or urinary cancers. The same study showed that TNB communities were less likely to receive outreach regarding recommended cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer screenings. There is a broad consensus in the literature that barriers at the individual, provider, organizational, and sociopolitical levels drive cancer inequities experienced by TNB communities and individuals. Given that the gold standard of care is to provide culturally sensitive outreach, communication, and treatment in which are co-developed by members of the prioritized community, researchers with the support of the NCI, NIMHD, and NIMH engaged with TNB individuals residing in Puerto Rico and Florida to develop outreach that supports cancer screening and prevention in these communities.

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News and Events

OBSSR Announces the
16th NIH Matilda White Riley Distinguished Lecturer

The 16th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors will be held on Monday, May 15, 2023, from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. ET.  The 2023 NIH Matilda White Riley Distinguished Lecturer is Jennifer J. Manly, Ph.D., professor, Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease & the Aging Brain, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Manly’s research on cultural, medical, and genetic predictors of cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease among African Americans and Hispanics has been funded by NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Each year, NIH honors the research trajectory and continuing influence of Dr. Matilda White Riley in the behavioral and social sciences across and beyond the NIH. Initiated as an annual distinguished scholar lecture, OBSSR expanded the event in 2016 to recognize emerging scientists with a competition for peer-reviewed articles by Early Stage Investigators (ESIs).

Save the date: Monday, May 15, 2023. Registration information is forthcoming. Learn More

Request for Information (RFI): Future Directions in Violence Against Women Research

This Request for Information (RFI) is intended to gather public input on priority scientific directions in violence against women (VAW) research. This includes cisgender, transgender, and gender-diverse persons who identify as a woman or girl, as well as other individuals assigned female at birth but who may not identify as a woman or girl. Specifically, NINR, ORWH, NICHD, NIMHD, OBSSR, ODP, and SGMRO are soliciting comments from the public on scientific gaps and research opportunities to address longstanding and emergent factors that perpetuate VAW. This request solicits input on a broad range of topics to inform research directions to better understand and identify opportunities to address underlying causes that influence women’s exposure to violence and to identify approaches to address the health impacts and sequelae of VAW.

In this request, VAW is considered broadly to include but not be limited to: domestic or intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual assault and rape, dating violence and abuse, peer violence, physical and mental abuse, sexual coercion, stalking, homicide, and elder mistreatment.

To ensure consideration, responses should be submitted via email to NINRProgram@nih.gov no later than March 31, 2023. Please indicate “VAW RFI Response” in the subject line of the email. Read more

NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee Open Meeting

Date and time: April 7, 2023, 9:00 – 10:30am
Virtual link: ttps://nih.zoomgov.com/j/1600381744?pwd=MUhlYlNOVXRxQmRKc3lIazBOVDhxQT09

The NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR-CC) was established to enhance information exchange, communication, integration, and coordination of behavioral and social sciences research/training activities at the NIH. The BSSR-CC alternates between closed and open meetings each month. In Open BSSR-CC sessions, the public, including representatives of professional organizations, are welcome to attend, and the content of meetings is restricted to those topics appropriate for public awareness or discussion.

Request for Information (RFI): Re-envisioning U.S. Postdoctoral Research Training and Career Progression within the Biomedical Research Enterprise

NIH seeks information from extramural research community members regarding the current state of postdoctoral research training and career progression within the biomedical research enterprise. NIH is particularly interested in understanding the perspective and experience of recent and current postdoctoral trainees, postdoctoral office leaders, as well as graduate students considering becoming postdoctoral trainees within the academic sector. This RFI will assist NIH in hearing the voices of postdoctoral trainees along with others impacted by this unique and skilled training position, and in exploring ways to address some of the fundamental challenges faced by the postdoctoral trainee community. This information will inform the development of recommendations by the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD ), an advisory group that provides advice on matters pertinent to NIH mission responsibilities in the conduct and support of biomedical research, medical science, and biomedical communications.

Review of this entire RFI notice is encouraged to ensure your response is comprehensive and to have a full understanding of how it will be utilized.

Responses must be received by 11:59:59 pm (ET) on April 14, 2023. Learn more.

9th Annual BRAIN Initiative Meeting

Join NIH in Bethesda, MD and virtually for the 9th Annual BRAIN Meeting and help continue to build the BRAIN community. By participating in this open forum on June 12–13, 2023, you will be part of discussions that explore exciting scientific developments and new directions and identify areas for collaboration and research coordination.

Who Should Attend?

  • Federally funded and non-federally funded BRAIN Initiative investigators and trainees
  • Non-federal organizations and groups invested in the U.S. BRAIN Initiative
  • Scientists, researchers, trainees, and clinicians interested in the BRAIN Initiative
  • Federal staff
  • Members of Congress
  • Patient and advocacy groups
  • Media and the general public

NIH is monitoring the COVID-19 community levels as the health and safety of the BRAIN Community is paramount. Register and view agenda

Recently Published Funding Opportunities

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Administrative Supplement for Research Efforts that Elucidate Fundamental Processes Underlying Behavior Change, Maintenance, and Adherence (Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional)

Notice Number
NOT-OD-23-083

Key Dates
First Available Due Date: April 3, 2023
Expiration Date: April 11, 2023

Purpose
The need to develop a comprehensive understanding of how and why humans initiate, adopt, maintain, and sustain behaviors that impede or promote health and wellbeing is well-documented. This NOSI encourages use of behavior change theories and models that use variables that can explain individual and interpersonal mechanisms of action (MOA). When testing theory-based MOAs, operational definitions and measurement approaches with prior evidence of association with behavior change are encouraged.

Use of behavior change theories and identification of the underlying MOAs corresponds to OBSSR’s priority to facilitate more cumulative, integrated, and synergistic behavioral and social sciences that can be optimized and translated across conditions based not only on the efficaciousness of the intervention but also on data demonstrating that the intervention influenced a unique human mechanism that led to healthier behavior.

View NOT-OD-23-083

Notice of Special Interest: Administrative Supplements to NIH-funded T32 and TL1 Training Grants to Better Integrate Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) with other Health-Related Sciences

Notice Number
NOT-OD-23-098

Key Dates
First Available Due Date: May 1, 2023
Expiration Date: May 2, 2023

Purpose
OBSSR is interested in supporting the integration of health-related behavioral and social sciences (BSS) with other biomedical methodological and scientific disciplines (e.g., genetics, immunology, metabolomics, molecular biology, microbiome, biochemistry, or physiological sciences). The goal is to train a research workforce that has the integrated content expertise and skills to meaningful address gaps in scientific advancement that are not well served by a more siloed approach to research. To support this goal, the OBSSR is soliciting applications for a one year administrative supplement to existing NIH T32 and TL1 training grants for the addition of activities that support the acquisition of expertise and skills that are foundational to conducting multidisciplinary science that integrates BSS with biomedical approaches, methods, paradigms, and outcomes.

View NOT-OD-23-098

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Climate Change and Health Administrative Supplements

Notice Number
NOT-HD-23-006

Key Dates
First Available Due Date: May 8, 2023
Expiration Date: May 9, 2023

Purpose
The over-arching intent of this solicitation is to: (1) enrich and expand the research community in CCH to include new researchers from multiple disciplines, both in the US and in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) globally; and (2) conduct research that will create new knowledge to reduce or mitigate health threats attributable to climate change across the lifespan and build health resilience or develop adaptation mechanisms for individuals, communities, and nations around the world, especially among those at increased risk from, or disproportionately affected by, the impacts of climate change. Awardees are expected to seek competing support to continue promising leads from the research supported through the supplement. This supplement opportunity is part of a larger NIH CCH initiative that seeks to build a global community of practice that will work towards trans-disciplinary solutions-driven science to address the serious impacts of climate change on health.

View NOT-HD-23-006

Time-Sensitive Opportunities for Health Research (R61/R33 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Funding Opportunity Number
PAR-22-233

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): November 1, 2022
Expiration Date: November 2, 2023

Purpose
This funding opportunity establishes an accelerated review/award process to support research to understand health outcomes related to an unexpected and/or time-sensitive event (e.g., emergent environmental threat; pandemic; change in local, state, or national policy; natural disaster). Applications in response to this funding opportunity must demonstrate that the research proposed is time-sensitive and must be initiated with minimum delay due to a limited window of opportunity to collect baseline data, answer key research questions, and/or prospectively evaluate a new policy or program. This funding opportunity is intended to support opportunities in which empirical study could only be available through expedited review and funding, necessitating a substantially shorter process than the typical NIH grant review/award cycle. The time from submission to award is expected to occur within 4-5 months. However, administrative requirements and other unforeseen circumstances may delay issuance dates beyond that timeline.

View PAR-22-233

Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Accelerating Behavioral and Social Science through Ontology Development and Use (U01)

Notice Number
NOT-OD-23-089

Purpose
OBSSR, with other NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs), intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a funding opportunity to accelerate behavioral and social science through ontology development and use. Applications will be encouraged to develop new or expand existing ontologies for behavioral or social science research (BSSR). Applicants will be expected to form multi-disciplinary teams including subject matter experts in one or more BSSR fields, as well as experts in semantic knowledge structures. Proposals will be expected to focus on health-relevant terminology related to constructs, measures, and/or interventions. Funded projects and investigator teams will participate in a collaborative research network.

This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects.

The funding opportunities are expected to be published in Spring 2023 with expected application due dates in Fall 2023.

View NOT-OD-23-089

Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Accelerating Behavioral and Social Science through Ontology Development and Use (U24)

Notice Number
NOT-OD-23-090

Purpose
OBSSR, with other NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs), intends to publish a funding opportunity soliciting applications to establish a Dissemination and Coordination Center (DCC) for a U24 Research Network on Behavioral and Social Science Ontology Development. DCC teams must include subject matter experts in one or more fields of behavioral or social science, ontology-related informatics and computational approaches, and Team Science or the Science of Science.

This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects.

The funding opportunities are expected to be published in Spring 2023 with expected application due dates in Fall 2023.

View NOT-OD-23-090

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