Director’s Voice Blog

NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival: Celebrating Innovative and Exciting BSSR to Advance Health. 

On December 5, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm EST, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee will host the annual NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival (BSSR) Festival. This event provides a venue for NIH Institutes and Centers to highlight exciting research results, emerging research areas, and innovations in the behavioral and social sciences. We hope you will save the date on your calendar and register here for this virtual event.

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Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Spotlights

Disparities in sleep-wake patterns by labor force status: Population-based findings

Sufficient sleep is crucial for maintaining heath, and sleep insufficiencies are associated with mental and physical health conditions, including major depressive disorder, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Previous studies have found associations between sleep duration and socioeconomic status (SES), employment status, the presence of children in the household, age, gender, and ethnicity/race. Individuals who are unemployed often report less than ideal sleep duration and poor sleep quality. In a recent publication supported by NHLBI and NINDS, researchers investigated differences in sleep-wake patterns by labor force status (employed, unemployed, and out of the labor force) along with sociodemographic variables.

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Modulating effect of the gut microbiome on the effect of second-hand smoke exposure on behavioral and cognitive performance: a mouse model

Second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure is a significant global health risk which has been associated with neurological impairments and neurodegenerative diseases. However, the biological mechanisms underlying how SHS affects the brain remain unclear. Previous research has highlighted a link between the gut microbiome and cognitive and behavioral performance via the gut-brain axis. In a recent publication, researchers supported by NIEHS, NIA, and others investigated whether SHS exposure induces gut microbial alterations.

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Results from “Live Well,” a randomized controlled community-based participatory intervention to prevent obesity in new immigrant mother-child dyads

Immigrants who move to the U.S. often experience weight gain, which results in disproportionate rates of overweight and obesity among populations that formerly had a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity than their U.S.-born counterparts. Researchers, supported by NICHD and others, assessed whether an intervention developed with active input from community partners could prevent unhealthy weight gain among new immigrant (≤ 10 years in the U.S.) mothers and children in the Greater Boston area.

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News and Events

NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (BSSR) Festival

Tuesday, December 5
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET (8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PT)

Event Overview: The annual NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (BSSR) festival, which is hosted by the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) in collaboration with the NIH BSSR Coordinating Committee, showcases exciting research results, emerging research areas, and innovations in health-related BSSR. Intended for the broader BSSR community, the festival helps to build our understanding of transformative behavioral, social, and systems-level research that may lead to sustainable improvements in health and well-being.

Agenda: https://www.scgcorp.com/OBSSRFestival2023/Agenda

Register

NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (BSSR) Festival

Tuesday, December 5
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET (8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PT)

Event Overview: The annual NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (BSSR) festival, which is hosted by the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) in collaboration with the NIH BSSR Coordinating Committee, showcases exciting research results, emerging research areas, and innovations in health-related BSSR. Intended for the broader BSSR community, the festival helps to build our understanding of transformative behavioral, social, and systems-level research that may lead to sustainable improvements in health and well-being.

Agenda: https://www.scgcorp.com/OBSSRFestival2023/Agenda

Register

 

Understanding and Addressing the Health Impacts of Online Abuse and Harassment Workshop

Thursday, December 7
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET (9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PT)
NIH Videocast Link Day 1: https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=52604

Friday, December 8
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT)
NIH Videocast Link Day 2: https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=52606

Workshop Overview: The White House Task to Address Online Harassment and Abuse  was established via Presidential Memorandum on June 16, 2022 to address online harassment and abuse, specifically technology-facilitated gender-based violence. In consultation with survivors, advocates, educators, experts from diverse fields, and the private sector, the Task Force will develop specific recommendations to improve prevention, response, and protection efforts through programs and policies in the United States and globally. As part of this effort, NIH is hosting a virtual scientific workshop to identify gaps, opportunities, and challenges in advancing a research agenda to better understand the clinical, health, and developmental impacts of online harassment and abuse and develop innovative prevention and intervention efforts.

Agenda: https://www.scgcorp.com/onlineharassmentwksh/Agenda

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Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice Workshop

The workshop “Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice,” taking place December 14–15, 2023, aims to highlight accomplishments from the last 6 years in advancing scientific research on music and health, develop a blueprint for the next phase of research, and further build the research community. The workshop is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and jointly organized by NIH, the NEA, the Renée Fleming Foundation, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The workshop is cochaired by Dr. Francis Collins, former NIH director, and Ms. Renée Fleming, the renowned soprano and arts and health advocate, both of whom will deliver keynote speeches.

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NIH designates people with disabilities as population with health disparities

Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), designated people with disabilities as a population with health disparities for research supported by the National Institutes of Health. The decision was made in consultation with Robert Otto Valdez, Ph.D., the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, after careful consideration of a report delivered by an NIMHD advisory council, input from the disability community and a review of the science and evidence. A report issued in December 2022 by the Advisory Committee to the (NIH) Director (ACD), informed by the work of the Subgroup on Individuals with Disabilities, explored similar issues faced by people with disabilities. The designation is one of several steps NIH is taking to address health disparities faced by people with disabilities and ensure their representation in NIH research.

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NIH launches community-led research program to advance health equity

NIH is funding a first-of-its-kind community-led research program to study ways to address the underlying structural factors within communities that affect health, such as access to safe spaces, healthy food, employment opportunities, transportation, and quality health care. Through the NIH Common Fund Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) program, NIH made 26 awards to community organizations and a coordinating center, totaling approximately $171 million over five years, pending the availability of funds. Through these awards, ComPASS will enable research into sustainable solutions that promote health equity to create lasting change in communities across the nation.

General overview of ComPASS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVQVYQBh6KM.

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NIH to address unmet clinical needs in testing, monitoring, and treatment technologies

NIH will advance the development of home-based and point-of-care health technologies with awards to six technology research and development centers around the country. The centers comprise the Point of Care Technology Research Network (POCTRN) and will parlay the momentum of the original network established in 2007 by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). In the first year of the new five-year grant period, these six centers will share $9.6 million in total awards. Through technological advances, health care can be delivered closer to the patient, leading to more timely and convenient care and ultimately better outcomes.

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Recently Published Funding Opportunities

Career Enhancement Award to Advance Research on Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention (K18 Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

NOFO Number
PAR-24-070

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): February 15, 2024
Expiration Date: March 16, 2024

Purpose

This NIH Research Career Enhancement Award (K18) program invites applications from experienced investigators seeking to redirect or expand research programs through the acquisition of new skills and knowledge in the area of firearm mortality and injury prevention research, which is beyond and complementary to their current areas of expertise. The program will support research training and career development experiences and a small-scale research project that will provide experienced investigators with the scientific competencies required to conduct research relevant to firearm morality and injury prevention research. Eligible candidates are independent investigators at any faculty rank or level.

The proposed project must be related to the programmatic interests of one or more of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) based on their scientific missions.

This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is designed specifically for applicants proposing research that does not involve leading an independent clinical trial, a clinical trial feasibility study, or an ancillary clinical trialUnder this NOFO applicants are permitted to propose a research experience in a clinical trial led by a mentor or co-mentor. Those proposing a clinical trial or an ancillary clinical trial as lead investigator, should apply to the companion NOFO PAR-24-073.

View PAR-24-070

 

Career Enhancement Award to Advance Research on Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention (K18 Independent Clinical Trial Required)

NOFO Number
PAR-24-073

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): February 15, 2024
Expiration Date: March 16, 2024

Purpose
This NIH Research Career Enhancement Award (K18) program invites applications from experienced investigators seeking to redirect or expand their research programs through the acquisition of new skills and knowledge in the area of firearm mortality and injury prevention research, which is beyond and complementary to their current areas of expertise. The program will support research training and career development experiences and a small-scale research project that will provide experienced investigators with the scientific competencies required to conduct research relevant to firearm morality and injury prevention research. Eligible candidates are independent investigators at any faculty rank or level.

The proposed project must be related to the programmatic interests of one or more of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) based on their scientific missions.

This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is designed specifically for applicants proposing to serve as the lead investigator of an independent clinical trial, a clinical trial feasibility study, or a separate ancillary study to an existing trial, as part of their research and career development. Applicants not planning an independent clinical trial, or proposing to gain research experience in a clinical trial led by another investigator, must apply to companion NOFO PAR-24-070.

View PAR-24-073

 

BRAIN Initiative: Brain-Behavior Quantification and Synchronization – Transformative and Integrative Models of Behavior at the Organismal Level (R34 Clinical Trial Optional)

NOFO Number
RFA-DA-24-042

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): January 15, 2024
Application Due Date: February 15, 2024
Expiration Date: February 16, 2024

Purpose
This notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) seeks applications proposing a set of planning activities that will lay the groundwork for a scientific project aimed at integrating complementary theories and methods to 1) develop, validate, and apply cutting-edge tools and methods for minimally invasive, multi-dimensional, high-resolution measurement of behavior at the level of the organism, with synchronous capture of changes in the organism’s social or physical environment; and 2) develop data science and computational methods that allow for integration of multidimensional behavioral and environmental data representing multiple timescales, and that will establish of a conceptual and/or computational model of behavior as a complex dynamic system. Prospective projects are expected to be designed with the potential to integrate synchronously recorded neural data and/or inform existing models of neurobehavioral function, such as those developed with the support of the NIH BRAIN Initiative. The purpose of this R34 planning grant opportunity is to support planning and development of the research framework, design, and approach, including activities that will establish feasibility, validity, and/or other technically qualifying results that, if successful, would support a competitive application for a U01, or equivalent, NIH research award.

Applications should be submitted by multi-disciplinary teams with expertise spanning behavior and behavioral measurement, neurobiology, social systems, computer/data systems, engineering, biostatistics, neuroethics, and artificial intelligence. Please reach out to BRAINBBQS@od.nih.gov or the scientific contact listed in the funding opportunity with any questions, and check the NIH BRAIN Initiative website (https://braininitiative.nih.gov/) for future funding opportunities in this space.

View RFA-DA-24-042

 

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment or Prevention (SBIRT/P) for alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) use and misuse in adult populations that experience health disparities (R01, Clinical Trial Required)

NOFO Number
PAR-23-270

Key Dates

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): January 5, 2024
Expiration Date: May 08, 2027

Purpose
To test innovative approaches to implementing SBIRT/P for alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) use and misuse in adult populations that experience health disparities. SBIRT/P, (a term used for purposes of this funding announcement), involves screening individuals for risk of ATOD use and misuse, briefly intervening with a conversation about harmful substance use, and referring individuals for treatment or preventive services, as needed. Proposed research should include prospective tests of SBIRT/P and should leverage collaborations with healthcare and community partners Specific research interests of participating NIH ICOs are detailed within.

View PAR-23-270

 

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Administrative Supplements to Recognize Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Mentorship

Notice Number
NOT-OD-24-001

Key Dates
First Available Due Date: February 16, 2024
Expiration Date: February 17, 2024

Purpose
To support administrative supplements to existing NIH awards to support scientists who have demonstrated compelling commitments and contributions to mentorship and enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the biomedical sciences. Funds will support ongoing and future efforts.

The biomedical research enterprise includes a range of research, including basic science, behavioral and social science, and clinical research and will be described hereafter as biomedical research. Excellent mentorship and superior training are critical to developing exceptional future scientists and building a diverse scientific workforce in the U.S. However, these efforts may not always be appropriately recognized or well compensated. As such, the intent of this NOSI is to reach those individuals with limited NIH support.

Mentoring can be defined as “a professional, working alliance in which individuals work together over time to support the personal and professional growth, development, and success of the relational partners through the provision of career and psychosocial support” (NASEM, 2019). Mentorship provides psychosocial and career support, self-efficacy, and science identity; it is also culturally responsive (NASEM, 2019). To date, NIH has supported such efforts via NOT-OD-22-057 and NOT-OD-23-002.  This Notice of Special Interest aims to continue this program into Fiscal Year 2024.

View NOT-OD-24-001

 

Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Research (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

NOFO Number
PAR-23-293

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): January 19, 2024
Expiration Date: November 19, 2026

Purpose
To study the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of human genetic or genomic research. Applications may propose studies using either single or mixed methods. Approaches may include but are not limited to empirical qualitative and quantitative methods, and conceptual, legal, and normative analyses. Applied research designed to address ELSI issues in genetics and genomics will also be considered responsive. Direct engagement with communities and other interested groups  is encouraged, but not required.

View PAR-23-293

 

Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)

NOFO Number
PAR-23-294

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): January 19, 2024
Expiration Date: November 19, 2026

Purpose
To study the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of human genetic or genomic research. Applications may propose studies using either single or mixed methods, that break new ground, extend previous discoveries in new directions, or develop preliminary data in preparation for larger studies. Approaches may include but are not limited to empirical qualitative and quantitative methods, and conceptual, legal, and normative analyses. Applied research designed to address ELSI issues in genetics and genomics will also be considered responsive. Direct engagement with communities and other stakeholders is encouraged, but not required.

View PAR-23-294

 

Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Small Research Grant (R03 Clinical Trial Optional)

NOFO Number
PAR-23-295

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): January 19, 2024
Expiration Date: November 17, 2026

Purpose
To study the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of human genetic or genomic research. These applications should be for small, self-contained research projects, such as those that involve single investigators. Of particular interest are projects that propose normative or conceptual analyses, including focused legal, economic, philosophical, anthropological, or historical analyses of new or emerging issues. This mechanism can also be used for the collection of preliminary data and the secondary analysis of existing data. Applications may propose studies using either single or mixed methods. Applied research designed to address ELSI issues in genetics and genomics will also be considered responsive. Direct engagement with communities and other stakeholders is encouraged, but not required.

View PAR-23-295

 

Request for Information: BRAIN Initiative: Brain Behavior Quantification and Synchronization: Guidance for Opportunities in Development of Sensor Technology Hubs

Notice Number
NOT-MH-24-125

Key Dates
Release Date: November 13, 2023
Response Date: December 29, 2023

Purpose
NIH is requesting information about how sensor technology hubs might advance the goals of the Brain Behavior Quantification and Synchronization (BBQS) program of the NIH BRAIN Initiative. The hubs would be used to evaluate sensor technology in a certain measurement modality, for example, temperature, pressure, inertial or electrochemical mode.  The BRAIN Initiative BBQS funding opportunities support 1) the development of tools for simultaneous, multimodal measurement of behavior within complex, dynamic physical and/or social environments, 2) the synchronization of these behavioral data with simultaneously-recorded brain activity; and 3) the development of novel conceptual and computational models that capture dynamic neural-behavioral-environmental, and temporal relationships.  This RFI focuses exclusively on the evaluation of sensor technology related to the BBQS program and follows a recent workshop  BBQS Workshop May 2023.

View NOT-MH-24-125

 

Request for Information: Developing Consent Language for Research Using Digital Health Technologies

Notice Number
NOT-OD-24-002

Key Dates
Release Date: October 11, 2023
Response Date: December 12, 2023

Purpose
NIH is requesting information on the utility and useability of sample language and accompanying considerations developed for use in informed consent documents for digital health technologies utilized in research.

View NOT-OD-24-002

 

Request for Information (RFI): Environmental Justice Research Gaps, Opportunities and Capacity Building

Notice Number
NOT-ES-23-016

Key Dates
Release Date: October 4, 2023
Response Date: December 15, 2023

Purpose
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Environmental Justice Working Group invites feedback on the approaches NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices can take to support research and capacity building efforts to advance environmental justice in the U.S. and globally. Additionally, Request for Information (RFI) responses will enable the NIH Environmental Justice Working Group to be responsive to Executive Order 14096 on Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, and to synergize NIH efforts with other Federal Agencies in a whole-of-government approach to advance environmental justice.

View NOT-ES-23-016

 

BRAIN Initiative: New Concepts and Early-Stage Research for Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System (R21) (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

NOFO Number
RFA-EY-23-001

Key Dates
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): October 12, 2023
Expiration Date: June 16, 2026

Purpose
This NOFO seeks applications for unique and innovative recording and/or modulation technologies that are in the earliest stage of development, including new and untested ideas that are in the initial stages of conceptualization. Some projects may aim to increase recording or modulation capabilities by many orders of magnitude, while others may aim to improve the precision and selectivity of recording or modulation (also referred to as stimulation, perturbation, or manipulation). A wide range of modalities are appropriate including acoustic, chemical, electrical, magnetic, and optical, as well as the use of genetic tools.

View RFA-EY-23-001

 

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 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
Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Additional BSSR accomplishments will be added to the website in 2024.

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