Matilda White Riley Lectures


Matilda White RileyMatilda White Riley Lecture for Excellence in Behavioral and Social Sciences

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is pleased to sponsor this lecture in the behavioral and social sciences named in honor of Matilda White Riley (1911-2004). In addition to serving as the Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging, Dr. Riley provided leadership across the NIH in her role as chairperson of landmark committees regarding health and behavior. She was co-chair of the joint ADAMHA and NIH Steering Committee for the Institute of Medicine's Project on Health and Behavior (1979-1982) and chair of the trans-NIH Working Group on Health and Behavior (1982-1991). In these capacities she served as the senior NIH spokesperson on the behavioral and social sciences, encouraged coordination among NIH Institutes, oversaw the production of numerous reports to the Congress on behavioral research at the NIH, provided advice to several NIH Directors, and initiated the behavioral and social sciences seminar series at the NIH. In effect, she laid the groundwork for and was the precursor to OBSSR.

The scholar selected to deliver this lecture is an individual whose research has contributed to behavioral and social scientific knowledge and/or the application of such knowledge relevant to the mission of the National Institutes of Health. The recipients' research reflects Matilda Riley's commitment to research characterized by values such as:

  • Strong linkages among theory, methods, and research topics/goals;
  • Recognition of complexity of and dynamic interplay among processes at multiple levels of explanation (i.e., a biopsychosocial perspective);
  • Encouragement of research on behavioral and social factors in physical health and of the application of such knowledge in clinical practice and health policy;
  • Advocacy of a life-course perspective, both at the level of individuals and of societies (i.e., development/aging of people and the reciprocal influence of societal processes on development and of people as they develop/age on society);
  • Emphasis on the potential for improving the lives of people and society (i.e., research should be significant.);
  • Conceptual expansion of “health” beyond biological outcomes (disease and death) to include “effective functioning” (functional health), such as cognitive, affective and social functioning, and quality of life; and

An optimistic view on the ability of social and behavioral science to develop interventions to improve the lives of people of all ages.

The awardee is invited to deliver a lecture at the award ceremony.

Read Matilda White Riley's Biography

Past Matilda White Riley Lectures