The NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR-CC) was established to enhance information exchange, communication, integration, and coordination of behavioral and social sciences research/training activities at the NIH. The BSSR-CC alternates between closed and open meetings each month. In Open BSSR-CC sessions, the public, including representatives of professional organizations, are welcome to attend, and the content of meetings is restricted to those topics appropriate for public awareness or discussion.
OBSSR Upcoming Events
The OBSSR hosts virtual and in-person meetings that highlight behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR). In coordination with the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices, other government agencies, and the wider BSSR community, OBSSR facilitates opportunities to network, collaborate, explore, and advance BSSR.
OBSSR hosts a Director’s Webinar Series on a variety of BSSR topics to help communicate BSSR findings and other relevant BSSR information. OBSSR’s annual in-person meetings include the NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors and the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. Subscribe to receive updates on the latest OBSSR and BSSR-related event information.
As part of the White House Task Force to Address Online Abuse Harassment, OBSSR, NICHD, and other NIH ICOs are convening a two-day virtual scientific workshop to identify gaps and challenges in advancing the research agenda to understand and address online harassment and abuse. The workshop will include a mix of plenary talks, panel discussions, and potential breakout sessions.
The workshop agenda and registration information will be available soon.
Presentation topic: Social Connection
Julianne Holt-Lunstad is a professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the Social Connection & Health Lab at Brigham Young University. She is also the founding scientific chair and board member for the U.S. Foundation for Social Connection and the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection. Dr. Holt-Lunstad is an international scientific expert whose research focuses on the individual and population health effects, biological mechanisms, and effective strategies to mitigate risk and promote protection associated with social connection. Her research has been seminal in the recognition of social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for early mortality. As the lead scientific editor for a US Surgeon General’s Advisory and Framework for a National Strategy, her work also focuses on translating evidence into practice and policy. She serves as a scientific advisor and regularly consults for organizations across sectors aimed at addressing this issue. She has provided expert testimony in a US Congressional Hearing, served as a member of multiple National Academy of Sciences consensus committees, the UK Cross Departmental Loneliness Team, European Joint Research Council, World Health Organization, and a subject matter expert for the Gravity Project, Commit to Connect the national clearinghouse of interventions and the CDC. Her work has been widely recognized within her discipline, including several awards, and is regularly highlighted in major media outlets.
Presentation topic: Social and Computational Science
Timnit Gebru is the founder and executive director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR). She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University, and did a postdoc at Microsoft Research, New York City in the FATE (Fairness Accountability Transparency and Ethics in AI) group, where she studied algorithmic bias and the ethical implications underlying projects aiming to gain insights from data. Dr. Gebru also co-founded Black in AI, a nonprofit that works to increase the presence, inclusion, visibility, and health of Black people in the field of AI. She is also on the board of AddisCoder, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching algorithms and computer programming to Ethiopian highschool students, free of charge.
Presentation topic: Health, Lifespans, and Fitness are all Affected by Social and Environmental Stressors
An evolutionary anthropologist and geneticist, Dr. Tung is an Associate Professor of Biology and a researcher at Duke University. In 2019, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. Tung’s research is helping to provide a better understanding for how health, lifespans, and fitness are all affected by social and environmental stressors. Tung focused her early research on primates but is now looking to further her research with meerkats to continue to study the social interactions among them and link those interactions to other aspects of research. Tung discovered that the social environment of primates doesn't just influence the physical health and behavior of an individual, but also affects gene regulation. In a different study, she researched the same idea, but in more competitive environments such as wild meerkats. She also looked into how the different social environments affected the rest of the individual's life in terms of social status, relationships with others, and behavior. She has conducted and contributed to many other projects. Jenny Tung's most cited paper according to Google Scholar is "Social environment is associated with gene regulatory variation in the rhesus macaque immune system". Published in 2012, the paper has been cited by fields ranging from human genomics to bioethics.
Presentation topic: The intersection of social science, aging, and health disparities
Dr. Wong is a Mexican scholar who received a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan in 1987. She served in the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Georgetown University Department of Demography, and as Associate Director of the University of Maryland Population Research Center. She joined UTMB in 2008 to serve as Director of the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center on Aging and Health. She is also Vice Chair of Research at SPPH and Associate Director of the UTMB Pepper Center and Sealy Center on Aging.
Dr. Wong's research agenda focuses on the economic consequences of population aging, in particular in Mexico and among immigrant Hispanics in the U.S. She has pioneered the use of cross-national approaches to study health outcomes among international migrants, and has completed recent work on disability and unhealthy lifestyles among elderly in the U.S. and Mexico, socioeconomic gradients of health, poverty and utilization of health services, co-existence of infectious and chronic diseases, and the impact of the social security and health care reform among elderly in Mexico. She serves as Principal Investigator of the Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS), financed by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. The study seeks to locate research on Mexico's unique health dynamics in broad socioeconomic context, and it includes a national longitudinal survey of multiple purposes among the population of middle and old age. A description of the study and a list of publications related to the MHAS is available at www.MHASweb.org.
Presentation topic: Justice involved individuals and access to healthcare
Emily Wang is a professor in the Yale School of Medicine and directs the SEICHE Center for Health and Justice. The SEICHE Center is a collaboration between the Yale School of Medicine and Yale Law School working to stimulate community transformation by identifying the legal, policy, and practice levers that can improve the health of individuals and communities impacted by mass incarceration. She leads the Center's research program, the Health Justice Lab, which receives National Institutes of Health funding to investigate how incarceration influences chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and opioid use disorder, and uses a participatory approach to study interventions which mitigate the impacts of incarceration. As an internist, she has cared for thousands of individuals with a history of incarceration and is co-founder of the Transitions Clinic Network, a consortium of 40 community health centers nationwide dedicated to caring for individuals recently released from correctional facilities by employing community health workers with histories of incarceration.
Dr. Wang has served on the National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine’s Health and Incarceration Workshop, Means of Violence Workshop, and the Steering Committee on Improving Collection of Indicators of Criminal Justice System Involvement in Population Health Data Programs. Her work been published in the Lancet, JAMA, American Journal of Public Health, and Health Affairs, and showcased in national outlets such as the New York Times, NPR, and CNN. Dr. Wang has an AB from Harvard University, an MD from Duke University, and a MAS from the University of California, San Francisco.