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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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OBSSR Connector Monthly

May 17, 2018

Director's Voice

Opioid Crisis Requires Social and Behavioral Research Solutions. Each day, more Americans die from drug overdoses (175) than from motor vehicle accidents (110). Many of these overdoses are accidental, and some are intentional, but nearly all are the result of social and behavioral factors. In response to the opioid crisis, the NIH convened a meeting on March 5-6, 2018, “Contributions of Social and Behavioral Research in Addressing the Opioid Crisis.” This meeting was part of the NIH Cutting-Edge Science Meeting Series to End the Opioid Crisis, and was led by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) partnering with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and the NIH Immediate Office of the Director (IMOD).  

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stressed woman

Holding on to stress-related emotions negatively effects health a decade later

Stress and an individual’s reaction to it are known to impact health, yet less is known about whether lingering emotions after a stressor effects long-term health. This was the focus of a recent study by NIA-funded  investigators. Analyses were conducted using data from 1,155 participants of the Midlife in the United States II (MIDUS II) study. Participants answered questions about daily stressors and negative emotions for eight consecutive days. After a follow-up period of 10 years, participants were asked about their current physical health and functional status.
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criminal record v2

Genetic risk for low educational attainment predicts criminal behavior

Genetic variants of educational attainment in childhood are associated with having a criminal record in adulthood according to a new study published by NIA- and NICHD-funded investigators. The study sample of over 2,900 was drawn from two birth cohorts: the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study and the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. Genetic data from both cohorts were analyzed, and single nucleotide olymorphisms were extracted and matched to education-associated alleles to create a polygenic score of educational attainment.
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unhealthy snacks

Individuals are willing to pay more for unhealthy food they are craving

Cravings are known to contribute to addiction and obesity-related health outcomes but their impact on consumer behavior is poorly understood. This is the focus of a recent study published by NIDA-funded investigators. The first study included 44 non-dieters who fasted for four hours. The study included a series of experiments in which participants were asked to indicate how much money they would pay for a snack food before and after exposure to the item as well as after manipulation to induce craving. The first study included 44 non-dieters who fasted for four hours. 
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In the Know

Events and Announcements

11th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors

OBSSR invites you to attend the 11th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors on Thursday, May 31, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET. on NIH's main campus (Wilson Hall, building 1). Please join us for a pre-meeting networking session from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., and/or for lunch with our invited speakers from noon to 1:30 p.m. You will be responsible for providing your own lunch. You may order lunch through NIH’s Fresh Fork catering service (note: orders must be placed by Monday, May 28). 

Dr. Terrie E. Moffitt, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, is this year's Distinguished Lecturer. Dr. Moffitt's presentation, “A Good Childhood is a Smart Investment”, will describe research from four-decades of the Dunedin cohort, and indicate how childhood risks, especially indicators of brain health at age 3, predict membership in the one-fifth of the cohort who accounted for a disproportionate share of adverse health and societal outcomes. 

The 2018 Early Stage Investigator Awardees and presentations include: Diego García-Huidobro Munita, M.D., Ph.D.: Squeezing observational data for better causal inference: Methods and examples for prevention research; Ruth T. Morin, Ph.D.: Do multiple health events reduce resilience when compared with single events?; Justin Parent, Ph.D.: Dynamic stress-related epigenetic regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene promoter during early development: The role of child maltreatment; and Bryan F. Singer, Ph.D.: Are cocaine-seeking habits necessary for the development of addiction-like behavior in rats?

The event is free and open to the public. Free registration for this event is required. This meeting will not be live webcast. Please register to attend this meeting in person.
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Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and the NIH Response to the Opioid Crisis

On March 5-6, 2018, the OBSSR in collaboration with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and the NIH Immediate Office of the Director (IMOD), hosted a meeting to discuss social and behavioral contributions to address the opioid crisis. This meeting was part of a series of NIH initiatives to help end the opioid crisis. Invited panelists included researchers, stakeholder and advocacy group representatives, and policymakers. NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D., and OBSSR Director William T. Riley, Ph.D., provided opening remarks and led the discussions around the five panel topics:

  1. Sociocultural and socioeconomic underpinnings of the crisis;
  2. Behavioral and social factors preventing opioid initiation and mitigating the transition from
    acute to chronic opioid use;
  3. Nonpharmacologic approaches to the treatment of opioid abuse and chronic pain
  4. Overcoming barriers to prevention and treatment; and
  5. Models of integrating social and behavioral approaches into clinical and medical practice.

The meeting agenda, participant list, and video recordings, are available on the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative web page. The summary will be posted on this web page later this month. Scroll down below the videos for day 1 and day 2 to choose a specific presentation or panel to view. 
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Now Accepting Applications: Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH)

OBSSR in coordination with a number of NIH Institutes and Centers and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, are hosting the Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH) to provide participants with a thorough grounding in conducting dissemination and implementation (D&I) research in health across all areas of health and health care. In 2018, the institute will utilize a combination of a 4-month online course (six modules with related assignments) between August 13 and November 30 , 2018, and a 2-day in-person training to be held December 6-7, 2018, in Bethesda, MD. Faculty and guest lecturers will consist of leading experts in theory, implementation, and evaluation approaches to D&I; creating partnerships and multilevel, transdisciplinary research teams; research design, methods, and analyses appropriate for D&I; and conducting research at different and multiple levels of intervention (e.g., clinical, community, policy). Participants will be expected to return to their home institutions prepared to share what they have learned at the institute to help further the field of D&I research (e.g., giving talks, leading seminars, forming new collaborations, mentoring, submitting D&I grant proposals, etc.). Applications are due on June 12, 2018 12:00 p.m. ET. 
Apply Now

NHLBI Workshop on Social Determinants of Health

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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NHGRI's Public Health Genomics Course

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is hosting a two-week course on the NIH’s main campus, from May 21 to June 1, 2018, that focuses on the application of genomics to public health intervention and practice. Through lectures from scientific leaders, students will be provided with an overview of the field as well as how genomic discoveries could be applied to: population screening programs, personalized medicine, targeted primary prevention interventions, community engagement programs, and public education campaigns. Teams of students will complete a project in which they will be asked to apply genomic discovery to address a public health problem. 
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NIH BSSR Coordinating Committee Meeting

Please join us for the next NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR CC) open meeting on Friday, June 1, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on NIH’s campus or online (Rockledge II, Room 9112/9116; 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 initiatives in behavior and social science research. 
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RFI: Inviting Scientific Interest in Geroscience Summit III

The NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) is in the early stages of planning for a third Geroscience Summit, to potentially take place in the Spring of 2019. This RFI seeks input from non-governmental stakeholder organizations (e.g., researchers, disease and aging patient advocacy organizations, professional  societies, and others) throughout the scientific research community and the general public regarding:

  1. Recommendations for specific age-related chronic diseases/conditions that should be considered in the planning for a third NIH Geroscience Summit;
  2. Feedback on whether individual organizations may be interested in contributing input to the planning of such a Summit, and areas of interest for participation;
  3. Feedback on whether individual organizations may be interested in participating in a summit session that would encompass scientific presentations by public and private stakeholders about the links between specific chronic diseases and geroscience, as well as suggested subtopics for such a session; and
  4. Input on the potential impact of this type of session on future scientific needs and progress in regard to specific diseases affected by aging.

Responses must be received by 11:59:59 pm (ET) on June 1, 2018. All comments must be submitted electronically by email to

All of Us Research Program: National Enrollment Open

On May 6, the All of Us Research Program, began national enrollment, inviting people ages 18 and older, regardless of health status, to join this a momentous effort to advance individualized prevention, treatment and care for people of all backgrounds. Part of the NIH, All of Us is expected to be the largest and most diverse longitudinal health research program ever developed. Participants will be asked to share different types of health and lifestyle information, including through online surveys and electronic health records, which will continue to be collected over the course of the program. Those who join will have access to study information and data about themselves, with choices about how much or little they want to receive. Data that are collected will be broadly accessible to researchers of all kinds, including citizen scientists, to support thousands of studies across a wide range of different health topics. By doing so, they are hoping to discover how to more precisely prevent and treat other health conditions. Knowledge gained from this research could help researchers improve health for generations to come.
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Redesigned OBSSR Website Launched

The redesigned OBSSR website is now live! Highlights:

  • Mobile-friendly: Conveniently access information on your phone, tablet, or computer
  • Streamlined organization: Easily navigate the site to find information
  • Relevant content: Find updated resources; access older archived materials separately
  • The popular OBSSR Connector, Monthly Newsletter, Director’s Voice and Research
    Blogs, are better formatted

As you navigate the new website, you will see that many URLs have changed. Previous URLs have been redirected to the most relevant new information to minimize the likelihood of broken links.

If you have questions or feedback about the website, please email
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Funding Announcements

BRAIN Initiative: Targeted BRAIN Circuits Projects-Targeted BCP

This FOA solicits applications for research projects that use innovative, methodologically-integrated approaches to understand how circuit activity gives rise to mental experience and behavior. The goal is to support projects that can realize a meaningful outcome within 5 years. Applications should address circuit function in the context of specific neural systems such as sensation, perception, attention, reasoning, intention, decision-making, emotion, navigation, communication or homeostasis. Projects should link theory and data analysis to experimental design and should produce predictive models as deliverables. Projects should aim to improve the understanding of circuits of the central nervous system by systematically controlling stimuli and/or behavior while actively recording and/or manipulating dynamic patterns of neural activity.  Projects can use non-human and human species, and applications should explain how the selected species offers ideal conditions for revealing general principles about the circuit basis of a specific behavior. Open Date: June 2, 2018.
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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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