Retirement of William T. Riley, Ph.D., NIH Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

With enormous gratitude for his many contributions to behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR) at the NIH, I announce that William (Bill) T. Riley, Ph.D., will be retiring from NIH at the end of December 2021. For the past 7 years in his dual roles as NIH Associate Director for BSSR and Director of the Office of BSSR, Bill has done an outstanding job advancing understanding of the field and integrating BSSR into broader biomedical research efforts. Bill has led OBSSR during a time of a great change in the field. The integration of BSSR with the neuroscience, genetics, and “omics” fields is beginning to shed light on the many complex interactions between the brain, behavior, and the environment. Advances in measurement science and technologies are providing data on the influence of human behavior on health at levels of detail previously unimaginable. Expanding sources of integrated population-level data provide both the platform to better monitor the behavioral and social influences on health and the ability to assess population-level interventions more rigorously. The health of the nation is shaped primarily by behavior and social influences, and research in this area provides the tools to help people modify their behaviors to improve their health. OBSSR, under Bill’s direction, plays a key role in that effort.

Bill’s research interests include behavioral assessment, psychosocial health risk factors, tobacco use/cessation, and the application of technology to help prevent and manage chronic disease. He has been involved with applying new technologies, particularly mobile and wireless technologies, in behavioral measurement and intervention. Prior to OBSSR, he served in various roles at the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Bill earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Florida State University and has experience in both academic medicine and the private sector.

I am pleased to announce that OBSSR Deputy Director Christine M. Hunter, Ph.D., ABPP, will serve as Acting NIH Associate Director for BSSR and Acting Director of OBSSR. Christine has worked closely with Bill and the OBSSR staff on many innovative initiatives over the past several years and has supported the OBSSR mission to enhance the impact of health-related behavioral and social sciences research, coordinate and integrate these sciences within the larger NIH research enterprise, and communicate health-related behavioral and social sciences research findings. A Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, Christine previously served as the Director of Behavioral Research focused on obesity and diabetes prevention and treatment at NIDDK. Christine’s research interests are on advancing measurement precision and the application of rigorous but varied methods and designs in the behavioral and social sciences across the translational spectrum. She obtained her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Memphis and completed her psychology internship at Wilford Hall Medical Center. Christine completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Health Psychology and attained Board Certification in Clinical Health Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Please join me in expressing our deep appreciation to Bill for his leadership at NIH, and in wishing him the very best. Also please join me in welcoming Christine and offering your full support in her new role. We will begin a nationwide search for Bill’s replacement immediately.

James M. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D.
NIH Deputy Director for Program Coordination,
Planning, and Strategic Initiatives