Celebrating the behavioral and social sciences at the NIH

Celebrating the behavioral and social sciences at the NIH

On November 27, 2018, the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR-CC) and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) will host the third NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. This one-day festival provides the opportunity to highlight some of the impactful behavioral and social science research funded by the various NIH institutes and centers and gives the NIH staff a day to network and focus on the science we all work to advance.

This year’s festival has an exceptional slate of presentations and activities. The keynote speaker is Dr. Adriana Lleras-Muney, recipient of the 2017 PECASE (Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers). Dr. Lleras-Muney is professor of economics at UCLA, and her work includes research on the effects of anti-poverty cash programs on the health and welfare of children.

Based on nominations from across the NIH, we selected nine presenters organized in three sessions.

Session 1 is on Research in Basic and Social and Behavioral Processes and highlights the work of Mark Jenson on cognitive processes in chronic pain; Mauricio Delgado on the influences of past experiences on stress and decision making; and Elliot Berkman on cognitive training for health behavior change.

Session 2 is on Population and Epidemiology Research and highlights the work of Julia Cen Chen (for Kelvin Choi) on turning tobacco consumer marketing approaches into public health interventions; Sheri Weiser on food insecurity and health; and Jennifer Buher-Kane on intergenerational pathways linking maternal adversity and offspring birthweight.

Session 3 is on Intervention Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences and highlights the work of Marc Adams on the interaction of built environments and adaptive physical activity interventions; Jarrad Van Stan on ambulatory biofeedback for vocal behavior change; and Jeffrey Sparks on rheumatoid arthritis prevention.

In addition to this program of research highlighting recent NIH grantees, festival participants will participate in small group roundtable discussions. In past years, we have conducted town halls with internal and external participants, but with the increasing numbers of participants, we plan on having smaller roundtable discussions around specific questions such as, "What potential understudied research areas in the behavioral and social sciences are you concerned about?" and "How do we encourage behavioral and social science researchers to adopt more diverse and innovative methods, measures, and analytic approaches?" The input from the NIH community has proven quite valuable in helping OBSSR further implement our mission and scientific priorities.

James Anderson, NIH deputy director and director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) will give the Welcome and Opening Remarks at the festival. I will provide an annual update on the State of the Behavioral and Social Sciences at the NIH.

It is appropriate that our research festival occurs each year around the holidays because I think of it as a research holiday. It is a day to reflect on the important and diverse behavioral and social sciences research the NIH funds and spend time with our NIH colleagues who have done so much to contribute to enhancing the impact of health-related behavioral and social sciences research. I hope you’ll "take the day off" and join us for this celebration of the behavioral and social sciences research supported by the NIH and of the NIH staff who serve as dedicated stewards of this research area.

To register or learn more about the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival on November 27, 2018, go to: https://obssr.od.nih.gov/news-and-events/bssr-research-festival/

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