Director’s Voice Blog

Advancing Social Determinants of Health Research at NIH Through Cross-Cutting Collaboration. This month’s blog focuses on the efforts of the NIH Social Determinants of Health Research Coordinating Committee. Our co-chairs, Dr. Shannon Zenk, NINR Director, and Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, NIMHD Director, highlight the history and activities of this important coordinated effort at the NIH.

Why does the statement “Your zip code is more important to your health than your genetic code” surprise people but resonate with many population scientists?

In the United States, 21 percent of the population lives in concentrated poverty areas, limiting access to health-promoting resources and services. Research shows people living in concentrated poverty areas have poorer health outcomes across a wide range of diseases and conditions and are also more likely to die than those living in other areas. Read full blog.

Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Spotlights

Using content analysis to understand the usage of stigmatizing language in recent scientific literature and its harmful effect on people living with HIV

People living with HIV and experts in the field have long advocated for the use of person-first language, which is a way to emphasize that the disorder, disease, condition, or disability as only one aspect of the whole person. Outdated terms such as “HIV-infected” and “AIDS-infected” are negative and dehumanizing, with the latter being clinically inaccurate. Previous research indicates that HIV-related stigma is associated with a reduction in antiretroviral medication therapy adherence, mental health decline, decreased engagement with healthcare services, and increased substance use. Reducing the usage of HIV-related stigmatized language across scientific published works is imperative; policy makers and healthcare professionals read and utilize the same language in their daily conversations, which can increase specific health-related stigmas and perpetuate discrimination. Recently published research supported by NIAAA and NIDA performed a content analysis on the usage of HIV-related stigmatizing language in peer-reviewed scientific literature to understand and help address this issue.

Learn More

“Just enough” diet tracking can still support healthy weight loss

Research has shown that lifestyle interventions such as food/calorie tracking, can be effective for achieving modest weight loss; however, it is unclear how much tracking is necessary to achieve certain weight-loss goals. Standard behavioral weight-loss interventions range from 3 – 24 months in length and often require daily dietary self-monitoring. However, this type of tracking is burdensome to the individual so it can result in a decline in adherence over time. In a recent publication, a multidisciplinary team of researchers funded by NHLBI sought to determine the optimal number of days for diet tracking to achieve clinically significant weight loss goals.

Read More

A mouse model of adolescent heavy drinking indicates long lasting brain alterations following binge drinking

Binge drinking, defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that raises blood ethanol concentration to above 80mg/dL within 2 hours, is one of the most dangerous patterns of alcohol misuse and negatively impacts individuals of all ages. However, adolescents may be particularly at risk since their brains are not fully mature until approximately 25 years of age. One key brain area that is still maturing in adolescence is the prefrontal cortex, which is essential for executive functioning, risk assessment, and decision-making. In a recent study supported by NIGMS and others, researchers sought to understand how the brain changes with voluntary binge drinking during adolescence in a mouse model.

Go There Now

Dr. Jane M. Simoni selected as Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, NIH

I am pleased to announce the selection of Jane M. Simoni, Ph.D., as NIH Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and Director of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). She will join NIH on July 30, 2023, to lead OBSSR’s efforts to advance and coordinate behavioral and social sciences research at NIH, working closely with NIH Institutes and Centers.

Dr. Simoni brings more than 25 years of experience in research focused on health disparities and resilience among populations that have been socially marginalized, including persons with HIV and other chronic illnesses, Latinx, LGBT and Indigenous peoples. Her intervention research has examined behavioral aspects of chronic illness, using mixed methods and clinical trials to evaluate strategies such as peer support, medical record alerts, provider training and counseling and mHealth to promote treatment engagement and health outcomes. Her work capitalizes on cutting-edge behavioral and social science methods and theory to inform the development, efficacy and implementation of health promotion and disease prevention programs.

Learn more.

NIH OBSSR Director’s Webinar: The Theoretical and Practical Importance of Advancing Health Equity

Date and Time: September 19, 2023, 2:00 – 3:00pm ET
via Zoom
Health equity has become a hot topic over the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic made salient just how separate and unequal the United States remains in modern life, and the consequences of that inequality for the health and wellbeing of individuals and broader collectives. In response, scientists, policymakers, and the broader public renewed their interest in (or became interested in the first time) what can be done to address these issues and improve health equity in our society. Although broad interest in health equity is relatively new, research on this topic is extensive—social scientists have been studying it for decades. In this talk, I will discuss what we have learned (and what we still need to learn), the implications of that knowledge and how it is generated, and why the pursuit of health equity is important for advancing theories across the sciences, which has practical benefits for broader society.

Presenter: Neil A. Lewis, Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant professor of communication and social behavior, Cornell University
Assistant professor of communication research in medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine
Co-Director, Action Research Collaborative, Cornell University

Register today.

Violence and the HIV Care Continuum Meeting

This meeting, to be held on Monday, August 7 and Tuesday, August 8, will bring together principal investigators and their community partners who received research funding to address the role of violence on HIV care and viral suppression (RFA-MH-20-200 /201 /202 ). Violence is associated with poor HIV care outcomes, but additional research is needed to:

  • Understand the relationship between exposure to violence and HIV-related outcomes
  • Understand the modifiable mechanisms underlying this relation
  • Develop interventions that address exposure to violence to improve HIV outcomes

At this meeting, researchers will give an update on study progress and findings to date and, alongside their community partners, will discuss challenges and opportunities for future HIV and violence research. This meeting is sponsored by NIMH’s Division of AIDS Research. For questions, contact Teri Senn, Ph.D., at

Register Now

NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee Open Meeting

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.

Date: August 4, 2023, 9:00 – 10:30am ET 


Learn More

Video Recording: Advancing the Science of Aggression Across Species and Disciplines

On June 14 and 15, 2023, OBSSR and collaborating NIH ICOs hosted a virtual workshop, Advancing the science of aggression across species and disciplines. The workshop is now available for live public viewing on the NIH Videocast. Goals of the workshop included bringing together both animal and human aggression researchers from various backgrounds to facilitate dialogue across disciplines, individual and interpersonal levels of analysis, lifespan, and disorders/diseases; identifying barriers and potential solutions to move research on basic mechanisms of aggression and health to inform intervention development as well as identify opportunities for more use-inspired basic research; and identifying research gaps and opportunities in the science of aggression and health in the service of advancing progress in prevention, assessment, and treatment.

Go There Now


New Resource: Interactive Virtual Tour of the NIH Campus Now Available

NIH is excited to announce the release of a dynamic, interactive virtual tour of the NIH Campus that showcases the depth and breadth of its important work of turning discovery into health. Through this virtual tour, visitors from all over the world can experience NIH and learn more about who we are, what we do, and our impact on health.

The tour features 32 buildings, including 20 in-depth virtual tour stops on the NIH campus. Visitors can select the full tour to experience the breadth of NIH’s work or choose special tour tracks, one designed specifically for patients and caregivers interested in NIH clinical trials and one designed for researchers and others to explore opportunities to work, collaborate, or train with us. Each stop features an overview video provided by one of the virtual tour guides and accompanying interviews with NIH senior leaders, administrators, and scientists discussing their roles and what makes NIH special.

The virtual tour can be accessed at:

Questions about the virtual tour can be directed to the NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison.

Go There Now

Recently Published Funding Opportunities


Youth Violence Prevention Interventions
(R01 – Clinical Trial Required)

NOFO Number

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): September 2, 2023
Expiration Date: October 3, 2023

The purpose of this initiative is to support research to develop and test multilevel youth violence prevention interventions for populations that experience health disparities, and which includes strategies that address structural discrimination and other social determinants of health. The target age range for this initiative is children and youth aged 10- to 24-years-old.

View RFA-MD-24-002


ADVANCE Predoctoral T32 Training Program to Promote Diversity in Health Disparities Research, Preventive Interventions, and Methodology
(T32, Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

NOFO Number

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): September 30, 2023
Expiration Date: November 1, 2023

The NIH Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) and participating Institutes, Centers, and Offices are soliciting T32 applications to train predoctoral scholars from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in prevention relevant fields, in three integrated areas: 1) health disparities/health equity research, 2) development and implementation of multi-level preventive interventions, and 3) methods for the design and analysis of studies to evaluate multi-level preventive interventions.

View RFA-OD-23-018


Single Source: NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research: NeuroImaging Tools and Resources Collaboratory (R24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

NOFO Number

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): August 26, 2023
Expiration Date: September 27, 2023

The purpose of this NOFO is to support the NeuroImaging Tools & Resources Collaboratory and to enable collaborative research in neuroimaging informatics. This is a single-source competition, with the University of Massachusetts Medical School being the only eligible organization.

View RFA-EB-23-007


Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Admin Supp – Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

NOFO Number

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): Submission dates vary by awarding IC
Expiration Date: May 8, 2026

The NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hereby notify Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) whose research is supported by specific types of research grants (activity codes listed above) that funds are available for administrative supplements to enhance the diversity of the research workforce by recruiting, mentoring, and supporting high school, undergraduate and graduate/clinical students, postbaccalaureate and post Masters individuals, postdoctoral researchers (including health professionals), and eligible investigators from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in health-related research.

View PA-23-189


Maximizing the Scientific Value of Data Generated by the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32)

NOFO Number

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

This NOFO seeks to advance research and training in high-priority areas of child health by stimulating the use of Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Cohort data by postdoctoral fellows from  relevant scientific communities. This RFA will provide opportunities for fellows to study child health outcomes through the analysis of ECHO’s large longitudinal data sets within the NICHD Data and Specimen Hub (DASH) repository.

View RFA-OD-23-019


Maximizing the Scientific Value of Data Generated by the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program: Dissertation Grant (R36)

NOFO Number

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

The goal of this NOFO is to support doctoral candidates studying high-priority areas of child health for the completion of their doctoral dissertation research project. This NOFO seeks to advance research in child health by stimulating the use of Environmental Influences on Child Health (ECHO) Cohort data by doctoral students in relevant scientific areas. This RFA will provide students working on dissertations the opportunity to access the ECHO data within the NICHD Data and Specimen Hub (DASH) repository.

View RFA-OD-23-020


Discover more from Association of Population Centers

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading