It is my honor to honor…Drs. Matilda White Riley and Caryn Lerman

It is my honor to honor…Drs. Matilda White Riley and Caryn Lerman

Each year, OBSSR pays tribute to the influence of Dr. Matilda White Riley (1911-2004) in the behavioral and social sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as she was instrumental in the coordination and advancement of behavioral and social sciences at the agency. Dr. Riley laid the foundation for the establishment of OBSSR over 20 years ago.

Every year for the past decade, OBSSR has honored highly accomplished behavioral and social scientists who have had a significant impact on health research. In 2016, we are expanding our celebration of excellence in the behavioral and social sciences. In addition to our annual lecture awardee, we are instituting early stage investigator research article awards and including career panel discussions in a day-long program that will provide an inspiring perspective on health-relevant behavioral and social sciences. Real Life, Labs, Research. The 9th Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Day will be held June 20, 2016 at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Caryn Lerman, from the University of Pennsylvania, has been selected to deliver the 2016 Matilda White Riley Lecture for Excellence in Behavioral and Social Sciences. Dr. Lerman holds several prominent positions at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the John H. Glick Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Co-Director of the Penn Medicine Neuroscience Center, and Deputy Director of the Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. Lerman’s research integrates neuroscience and behavioral science in an effort to understand how the brain’s cognitive control system can be enhanced to improve self-control over health risk behaviors such as smoking and overeating. She epitomizes the values of the Matilda White Riley Lecture for Excellence in Behavioral and Social Sciences, including the application of behavioral and social factors to physical health, clinical practice, and health policy.

In addition to honoring an established and highly accomplished researcher, this year OBSSR initiated the early stage investigator research paper award. Nearly 100 early stage investigators (within 10 years of their terminal degree) submitted their first-authored 2015 publications for review. From these, OBSSR selected four researchers and their papers for this early stage investigator award: Dr. Stephanie H. Cook, University of Michigan; Dr. Christopher S. Marcum, National Human Genome Research Institute; Dr. Ian M. McDonough, University of Alabama; and Dr. Sara Moorman, Boston College. These awardees will present their research papers at the Matilda White Riley event.

The day also will inlude career panels, including a panel entitled Women in Science: Tales and Trajectories moderated by Dr. Marin P. Allen, Director of the NIH Public Information Office. The panel will feature Dr. Felisa Gonzales, National Cancer Institute; Dr. Tiffany Powell-Wiley, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and Dr. Katherine E. Rowan, George Mason University. Dr. Yvonne T. Maddox, Vice President for Research of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and former National Institute on Mental Health Disparities Acting Director, will offer closing remarks.

OBSSR also will use this opportunity to highlight our soon-to-be-released Strategic Plan 2016-2020. It is quite fitting that, on the day we pay tribute to Dr. White Riley and the groundwork she laid for the various functions of the OBSSR, we use this day as the venue to describe the future plans of the Office. We are working to ensure that behavioral and social sciences research contributes substantively and meaningfully to the health of the nation.

Many thanks to those at OBSSR and more broadly at the NIH who contributed to making this event a reality. Many NIH staff were involved in selecting our 9th annual lecture awardee, and many staff read and rated numerous early stage investigator paper entries. I particularly want to thank Bill Elwood, Isabel Estrada, and Erica Spotts who developed and coordinated many of the activities, awards, and honors for this event.

I am looking forward to an exciting day of presentations and discussions, and invite you to attend. This event is open to the public, and we hope that many researchers and researchers-in-training take part in the OBSSR Matilda White Riley awards, lectures, and panel discussions on June 20th.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Andrii Kondiuk


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