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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July 14, 2020
Celebrating 25 Years of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research!
James M. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, provides a perspective of OBSSR from NIH leadership.
The behavioral and social sciences have also changed substantially over the past 25 years; however, some of the research published in 1995 is still highly relevant and influential today.
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In a recent publication, researchers funded by NIA, NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, NSF, and others, cast doubt on the usefulness of task functional MRI (fMRI) for between subject effect predictions and biomarker development. Recently, there has been an increasing interest in identifying brain biomarkers of disease risk for personalized medicine. One limitation to identifying meaningful biomarkers is measurement reliability, such that a measure provides consistent results under similar circumstances.
What is the connection between your childhood neighborhood and, gene regulation, and later health outcomes? A study funded by the NICHD, NIEHS, and others, examined the different ways DNA methylation may be influenced by one's childhood social environment. Previous studies have shown that children raised in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods have worse health as adults, when compared with their peers from more affluent communities. Environmentally induced alterations to the epigenome, such as differential DNA methylation, have been proposed as one potential mechanism linking early-life environments to later-life health outcomes.
Within the United States, approximately 5.7 million people are living with dementia. In a recent study funded by the NIA, researchers sought to determine the behavioral correlates that may help to delay the onset of this devastating disease. Currently, there are no effective pharmacotherapies that modify the course of dementia; however, epidemiologic studies and clinical trials suggest that primary prevention, typically through increasing healthy behaviors, may be able to delay the onset of the disease. The goal of the current study was to comprehensively assess the specific healthy lifestyle factors that are connected to the onset or delay of Alzheimer dementia. The researchers used two prospective longitudinal studies: the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP; n = 1,845) and the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP; n = 920).
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