Remembering OBSSR’s Inaugural Director, Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D.

It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Dr. Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D., a trailblazer in the field of behavioral and social sciences research. Dr. Anderson, who served as the inaugural Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) from 1995 to 2000, passed away on March 1 while recovering from unexpected complications following knee surgeries.

A distinguished clinical psychologist, Dr. Anderson began his career as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center where he studied the intersection of health and behavior, focusing on racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic health disparities.

Joining OBSSR in 1995, Dr. Anderson fervently championed integrating behavioral and social science across NIH. Under his leadership, the office developed a comprehensive definition of behavioral and social sciences research and established itself as the cornerstone of behavioral and social sciences at NIH. Dr. Anderson also oversaw the release of OBSSR’s first strategic plan, addressing critical behavioral and social science factors influencing public health.

During his tenure at OBSSR, Dr. Anderson facilitated the launch of various funding opportunities that encouraged cross-disciplinary collaboration. He led initiatives to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for sustained behavior change and drove research efforts to enhance our understanding of the impact of child neglect, to promote youth violence prevention, and to improve adherence to long-term medicine regimens.

A towering figure in behavioral and social science research, Dr. Anderson will be remembered as a wise, thoughtful, caring, humorous, and supportive leader and mentor.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife of more than 37 years, Elizabeth, and to his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.

Jane. M. Simoni, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, NIH
Director, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research