NIH launches new opportunity for developing short courses in innovative methodologies and approaches in the behavioral and social sciences


The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (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. For more than two decades, the OBSSR has been instrumental in advancing and coordinating the behavioral and social sciences at the NIH.

The OBSSR Strategic Plan 2017-2021 (PDF, 4,782 KB) addresses current emerging opportunities and challenges that have the potential to transform behavioral and social sciences health research (BSSR) including: (i) improvement in the flow of basic to applied science through the research-product pipeline, (ii) advances in measurement and methodological approaches, and (iii) improvements in the dissemination and implementation of social and behavioral interventions. To address the scientific priorities and the broader NIH efforts in the behavioral and social sciences, the OBSSR will rely on four foundational processes, which are central functions consistent with the OBSSR mission that can be marshalled to meet the objectives of the scientific priorities outlined in this strategic plan. These include (i) communication; (ii) coordination; (iii) training; and (iv) policy and evaluation.

To address the third foundational process of training, the OBSSR and participating Institutes plan to support another four years of Short Courses on Innovative Methodologies and Approaches in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (RFA-OD-19-012). This program will support educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs.

This funding opportunity is designed to fill educational gaps and needs in the behavioral and social sciences research community that are not being addressed by existing educational opportunities. Proposed educational programs should be integrative, both in the transdisciplinary nature of the skills and approaches taught and in applicability across a wide range of BSSR areas. The content of the course should focus on knowledge and skills necessary for the advancement of behavioral and social sciences and/or the integration of BSSR with other areas of science and technology. Content should not be limited to specific disease applications but rather focus on generally applicable research methodologies and analytics crucial for more advanced BSSR.

The goal for the short courses supported by this FOA is to build the capacity of the field across career stages. Applicants are encouraged to incorporate methods and models that have the potential to reach an audience that is broader than the attendees. Opportunities for attendees to sustain and continue learning beyond the course is strongly encouraged.

There is an expectation for communication and interaction among successful short course programs through investigator meetings and other opportunities. This will allow programs to share best practices and challenges, benefitting from the knowledge of the larger group.

Please visit for the full details about this new training grant program announcement.