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OBSSR Connector Monthly Newsletter

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) Connector Monthly Newsletter is a monthly e-newsletter featuring updates from OBSSR Director William T. Riley, Ph.D., information about behavioral and social sciences in the news, events and announcements, findings from recently published research, funding announcements, and other updates. The current newsletter is provided below.

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national institutes of health - office of behaviorial and social sciences research
OBSSR Connector Monthly

July 16, 2018

Director's Voice

A Better Lens for Viewing NIH Funding of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. “Let’s not fly blind” has been a frequent call to action at OBSSR in recent years. We are responsible for coordinating the behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR) at the NIH but that is a difficult task without the data and analytics to determine what types of BSSR are being funded or not and why. To understand the BSSR portfolio, we rely heavily on the Research Condition and Disease Categorization (RCDC) tools available to us. RCDC reports that in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), the NIH funded 10,649 grants (3,124 new or competing) that were coded as BSSR. Because grants have multiple RCDC codes, we can determine how many BSSR grants are also coded as Alzheimer’s (760), Serious Mental Illness (581), Cancer (857) or Heart Disease (256).

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Research Spotlights

Research Spotlights

Findings from Recently Published Research



MRI machine

Socioeconomic status is related to adult brain anatomy and organization

It has long been understood that socioeconomic status (SES) is related to brain structure and health in developing children and the older population, but a recent NIA-funded study suggests that this also applies to middle aged adults. Participants aged 20-89 years were recruited to examine the relationship between SES and brain organization and structure. SES was determined by educational attainment and either current or preretirement occupational socioeconomic index.
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interview panel

Opioids and non-opioids analgesics affect different types of stress

Mu-opioids and non-opioid analgesics appear to differentially affect the psychological and physiological components of psychosocial stress, according to a recent study funded by NIDA, NIGMS, and NIMH. In a between-subject design, healthy young adults (18-40 y) were randomly assigned to receive either 2 or 4 mg of hydromorphone (mu-opioid analgesic), 1000 mg of acetaminophen (non-opioid analgesic), or placebo and were tested in the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and a non-stressful control task (NSCT).
Go There Now


Sensory impairments predict future health in aging adults

Multisensory loss in older adults is common and is related to poor health, but past research focused mostly on single impairments or dual sensory impairments. A recent report funded by NIA and NIAID suggests when considering impairments in all five senses, future health and mortality can be predicted. This prospective study examined how global sensory impairment (GSI) predicts future health outcomes. GSI measures the underlying processes common to sensory dysfunction in all five senses: hearing, vision, smell, touch, and taste and is calculated from dysfunction measures across all senses.
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In the Know

Events and Announcements

Conversational Agents to Improve Quality of Life in Palliative Care Webinar

Join the July OBSSR Director’s Webinar on Tuesday, July 17, at 2:00 p.m. ET to hear from Michael Paasche-Orlow M.D., M.A., M.P.H., Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, on “Conversational Agents to Improve Quality of Life in Palliative Care.” Dr. Paasche-Orlow’s team designed and evaluated a series of interactive Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA) systems. During this webinar, he will describe attributes and design features of ECA systems with a focus on the current system as deployed with six content modules (symptoms, exercise, meditation, spiritual needs, advance care planning, and storytelling). Dr. Paasche-Orlow will also discuss early experiences with system utilization and the nurse alert workstation.
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NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee Meeting

Please join us for the next NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR CC) open meeting on Friday, August 3, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on NIH’s campus (Rockledge II, room 9112/9116) or online (WebEx access code: 628 548 199, password: gWZPDbr4). Representatives from NIH Institutes and Centers will meet to discuss behavioral and social sciences-relevant topics. Other partners from within and outside the federal government will also be present, to announce their upcoming activities and initiatives in behavioral and social sciences research.   Add to My Calendar

August Director's Webinar featuring Russell Poldrack, Ph.D.

On Monday, August 20, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Russell A. Poldrack, Ph.D., Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology, Stanford University, will present: Toward data-driven ontologies for mental function. Psychological science has long been focused on the discovery of novel behavioral phenomena and the mechanistic explanation of those phenomena, which has led to a lack of cumulative conceptual progress. Dr. Poldrack will argue that the development of ontologies is essential for progress, but that these need to be tied directly to empirical data. He will provide an example from the domain of self-regulation, where we have used data-driven ontology development to describe the psychological structure of this domain and characterize its predictive validity with respect to real-world outcomes.
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Video Recordings: 11th NIH Matilda White Riley Honors

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is hosting a workshop “Social Determinants of Health: Early Life Adversity as a Contributor to Disparities in Cardiovascular Diseases”, May 21-22, 2018, on NIH’s campus (Rockledge II, 9th floor conference rooms). The workshop will: 1) Provide an overview of early life adversities (ELA) as a social determinant of health (SDH) and its risk for adverse cardiovascular outcomes over the life course; 2) Outline putative behavioral, physiological, epigenetic and hormonal mechanisms through which early life exposure to SDH are associated with an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease in adulthood, using ELA as a model; 3) Examine whether outcomes and/or exposures to ELA may differ for health disparity populations; 4) Identify critical timing and vulnerability factors, such as exposure accumulation, intensity, and recency; sensitive life periods of physiological plasticity; transgenerational inheritance of exposures; and variations of experiences to exposure; and 5) Discuss the role of resilience - individual, family, and community resilience resources in mitigating CVD risk associated with ELA.
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NIH Brain Behavior Quantification Workshop

Did you miss the Brain Behavior Quantification workshop held on April 8, 2018? Recordings are now available. The workshop included five panels that discussed 1. Clinical Applications, 2. Biometrics/Deep Phenotyping, 3. Invasive Neural Devices: Capabilities/Synchronization, 4. Data Analysis, and 5. Neuroethics. Scroll down below the video to click and access a specific panel.
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Funding Announcements

Obesity Policy Evaluation Research (R01)

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages applications that propose to evaluate policies or large scale programs that are expected to influence obesity related behaviors (e.g., dietary intake, physical activity, or sedentary behavior) and/or weight outcomes that have the potential to prevent or reduce rates of obesity.
Expiration Date: May 8, 2019.
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Social and Behavioral Research eLearning Course

Good Clinical Practice in Social and Behavioral Research

Complete the free NIH Good Clinical Practice (GCP) Training through the Society of Behavioral Medicine. In September 2016, the NIH issued a Policy on Good Clinical Practice Training for NIH awardees involved in NIH-funded clinical trials. The principles of GCP help assure the safety, integrity, and quality of clinical trials. Certificates will be given upon completion of the training. Take The Training

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