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NIH Big Data to Knowledge Program announces two funding opportunities
December 16, 2014


OBSSR’s Scientist Wendy Nilsen keynotes mHealth Summit
December 10, 2014


December 8-9: OBSSR sponsors 7th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation 
December 8, 2014


Publication OBSSR’s Colleagues Contributed Chapters to New Book on Behavioral Health and Technology 
December 8, 2014


Joint meeting of BSSR and Prevention Research Coordinating Committees
December 5, 2014


OBSSR at the Association of Psychological Science Board of Directors
December 5, 2014


  More News >>

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January 9, 2015
2 pm - 3 pm EST.
BSSR Lecture Series: Communication Neuroscience
Bethesda, MD 


February 13, 2014
2 pm - 3 pm EST.
BSSR Lecture Series: Systems science & the global childhood obesity center
Bethesda, MD 


March 13, 2015
2 pm - 3 pm EST.
BSSR Lecture Series: Epigenetics in learning and memory
Bethesda, MD 


April 10, 2015
2 pm - 3 pm EST.
BSSR Lecture Series:Statistical methods for protecting data confidentiality
Bethesda, MD 

More Events >>

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Home > Scientific Areas > Genes, Behavior and Environment


Genes, Behavior and Environment


Introduction to Genes, Behavior and Environment (GBE)

The longstanding debate about nature versus nurture has been turned on its head. Scientists now recognize that it is not a question of genes or environment, but rather, how genes and environment interact in complex ways to explain virtually every observable trait. Take the link between stress and depression: recent research has demonstrated that genetic vulnerability plays a key role in explaining why stressful life events result in depressive symptoms, diagnosable major depression, and suicide attempts among some individuals but not others. In the same way that “personalized medicine” may tailor medical treatment based on an individual’s genetic makeup, behavioral and social science interventions will also benefit from a more sophisticated understanding of the interactions among genetic, personal, and environmental factors in human behavior.

Publications

Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature-Nurture Debate

As part of a strategy to determine how best to integrate research priorities to include an increased focus on the health impacts of interactions among social, behavioral and genetic factors, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), in conjunction with the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) undertake a study to examine the state of the science on gene-environment interactions that affect human health, with a focus on the social environment. The goal of the study was to identify approaches and strategies to strengthen the integration of social, behavioral and genetic research and to consider relevant training and infrastructure needs.

The report can be purchased or read online for free at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11693.

Workshop Recommendations: The Scientific Foundation for Personal Genomics

A panel of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made recommendations on targeted research to build an evidence base for the clinical validity and utility of personal genomics. These recommendations were developed at the NIH-CDC workshop in December 2008 to close the gap between discoveries and health impact. The OBSSR provided financial support and participated in the workshop, alongside a diverse and multidisciplinary group of participants, including representatives from academia, industries involved in personal genome profiles, and advocacy groups .

These recommendations, which have been published in the August 2009 issue of Genetics in Medicine, are in five domains: (1) developing and applying scientific standards for assessing personal genomic tests; (2) developing and applying a multidisciplinary research agenda, including observational studies and clinical trials to fill knowledge gaps in clinical validity and utility; (3) enhancing credible knowledge synthesis and information dissemination to clinicians and consumers; (4) linking scientific findings to evidence-based recommendations for use of personal genomics; and (5) assessing how the concept of personal utility can affect health benefits, costs, and risks by developing appropriate metrics for evaluation. To fulfill the promise of personal genomics, a rigorous multidisciplinary research agenda is needed.

NCI Tobacco Control Monograph 20: Phenotypes and Endophenotypes Foundations for Genetic Studies of Nicotine Use and Dependence

This monograph Monograph 20--Go to http://www.cancercontrol.cancer.gov/tcrb/monographs/20/index.html reviews the scientific foundation for genetic studies of nicotine use and dependence. The authors and editors—representing a wide range of expertise in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, behavioral pharmacology, neurobiology, epidemiology, statistical genetics, and bioinformatics—reviewed and analyzed the growing body of research findings in the field to develop a scientific plan for incorporating genetic research into crossdisciplinary studies of nicotine dependence. This monograph provides important, innovative, and new concepts and methodologies for behavioral genetics. This information can help direct future research, tailor treatment decisions for individual smokers, and guide public health policy in tobacco prevention and control.




Genetics Education

In 2008, the OBSSR contracted the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (NCHPEG) to develop a web-based course on genetics for behavioral and social scientists. The proposed program includes two multimedia modules which would serve as the basis for self-paced instruction by the learner :
  1. Introduction to genetic aspects of social and behavioral phenomena
  2. Evaluating and applying genetic science to research in social and behavioral science
More information will be posted to this Web site as the course is developed, so please check back again.

The Genes, Environment and Health Initiative (GEI)

The Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative (GEI) is a four-year NIH-wide program in the President’s budget to identify major genetic susceptibility factors for disease and to develop technologies for reliable and reproducible measurement of potential causative environmental exposures.

The GEI has two main components:
  • The Genetics Program is a pipeline for analyzing genetic variation in groups of patients with specific illnesses.
  • The Exposure Biology Program is an environmental technology development program to produce and validate new methods for monitoring environmental exposures that interact with a genetic variation to result in human diseases.
Recognizing that common diseases are likely due to factors in the physical, chemical, behavioral, social and developmental environments interacting with genetic predisposition, the GEI includes a substantial environmental component within the Exposure Biology Program, devoted to developing and field testing new technologies for assessing such exposures. Within this program, OBSSR supports GEI’s efforts to better measure the behavioral and social environment. OBSSR participated in the planning and hosting of two workshops on psychosocial stress measurement, conducted through the GEI Network on Exposures to Psychosocial Stress and Addictive Substances.

Information about other GEI exposure biology components can be found at http://www.gei.nih.gov/exposurebiology/. The Exposure Biology Program is led by NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

GEI-related funding opportunities can be found on the GEI Web site.
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                  Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, Office of the Director
National Institutes of Health, 31 Center Drive, Building 31 Room B1C19, Bethesda, MD 20892
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