Mission and History

OBSSR's Mission

  • Enhance the impact of health-related behavioral and social sciences research.
  • Coordinate behavioral and social sciences research conducted or supported by the NIH and integrate these sciences within the larger NIH research enterprise.
  • Communicate health-related behavioral and social sciences research findings to various stakeholders within and outside the federal government.

The OBSSR Strategic Plan 2017-2021 includes three equally important scientific priorities that reflect key research challenges the OBSSR is uniquely positioned to address, along with four foundational processes to enhance and support these scientific priorities and the OBSSR's mission.

History of OBSSR

OBSSR was created by Congress in 1993, in recognition of the importance of behavioral and social sciences to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mission. Over more than two decades, the OBSSR has been instrumental in advancing and coordinating the behavioral and social sciences at the NIH. The NIH already had a long history of supporting health-related behavioral and social sciences research, and the results of this work have contributed significantly to our understanding of the basic underlying mechanisms and treatment of mental and physical health and illness. Establishing an office focused specifically on the behavioral and social contributions to mental and physical well-being enables the NIH to leverage existing efforts and develop synergy across multiple Institutes, Centers, and scientific disciplines.

Commemorating OBSSR: A History in Milestones

OBSSR developed a historical record of the key events, accomplishments, major efforts, and leadership. Stimulating emerging areas of behavioral and social sciences, along with the integration of these sciences into the NIH mission and the training of the next generation of behavioral and social science researchers, has been among the key objectives of OBSSR.

The behavioral and social sciences were part of the NIH mission long before OBSSR was established, but OBSSR has been instrumental to accelerating the behavioral and social sciences relevant to health, coordinating these sciences within the NIH research enterprise, and increasing the integration of these sciences at the NIH.

View the graphical timeline of OBSSR’s history.

Download the timeline of OBSSR’s history.