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NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival: Celebrating Advances in Science

On December 8 and 9 (1:00-4:30 p.m. EST), the OBSSR and the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee will host the seventh annual NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. This annual event provides a venue for the NIH Institutes and Centers to highlight exciting research results, emerging research areas, and innovations in the behavioral and social sciences. We hope you will save the date on your calendar and register here for this virtual event.

We have an excellent line-up of speakers this year. On December 8, we are pleased to launch the festival with a “fireside chat” featuring Alix Spiegel, the well-known public radio producer and science journalist. She will share her experience and insights on the state of science of communication and how to communicate scientific findings more effectively. I will close out day one with a presentation on the state of behavioral and social sciences research at NIH, highlighting key activities from the past year and providing a preview of plans for 2023 and beyond. On December 9, we will begin with a keynote address by Dr. Richard Woychik, the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Dr. Woychik will share his vision and priorities for NIEHS in the coming years and describe the important role of the behavioral and social sciences in achieving this vision.

The scientific sessions across the two-day event are grouped into four broad and highly topical themes. Speakers include extramural and intramural researchers supported by Institutes and Centers across NIH. The first session includes research related to social connections and will include presentations on the role of social networks in Alzheimer’s disease and data on trials examining endogenous opioids and close social connections. The second session focuses on mental and emotional health. Presenters will focus on a range of topics including the role of mindfulness-oriented recovery in addiction, positivity in the context of pediatric chronic pain, and ethical considerations related to communication of collateral findings in pragmatic trials. The third session focuses on social determinants of health research. Speakers will address bioethics and increasing diversity in HIV cure-related research, community engagement and social determinants of cardiovascular disease, and COVID-19-related victimization, racial bias, and drug use. The fourth session focuses on innovative approaches to measurement. Speakers will address modeling approaches that leverage surveillance sources to inform suicide prevention, using multilevel measurements (from individual to neighborhood level) to predict chronic low back pain, and the innovative use of technology to measure selective responses to faces, scenes, and bodies in infants. Please see this link for the complete agenda and more details on the impressive line-up of presenters and presentations.

After every annual festival, I walk away feeling intellectually invigorated and reminded of how pleased I am to a part of the behavioral and social science community. I encourage you to try and attend the full two-day event and not just those sessions or presentations that are aligned with your interests. I think you also will walk away having learned a lot and impressed by the diversity and breadth of important behavioral and social sciences research supported by the NIH Institutes and Centers. I hope you can join us for this year’s virtual festival!