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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

January 15, 2019

Director's Voice

Reflections on Behavioral and Social Sciences at the NIH in 2018. The behavioral and social sciences continue to play an integral role in the mission of the NIH. In FY2018, NIH funding for grants meeting the RCDC criteria for behavioral and social sciences research was $4.83 billion, an increase from $4.55 billion in FY2017. All of the NIH Institutes and Centers support the behavioral and social sciences to some degree, with NIA, NIMH, NIDA, NINDS, and NICHD providing the largest funding for new grants in the behavioral and social sciences in FY2018.

The behavioral and social sciences are becoming increasingly integrated within the larger NIH biomedical research enterprise, a goal of the OBSSR since its inception. Large NIH cohort efforts such as All of Us, Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO), and Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) incorporate a range of social and behavioral constructs.

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Research Spotlights

Findings from Recently Published Research

Photo of two hands in the air with a background of a city, associated with January 2019 research spotlight article on brain connectivity is linked to better health outcomes in youth living in violent neighborhoods.

Brain connectivity is linked to better health outcomes in youth living in violent neighborhoods

Growing up in a neighborhood prone to violence puts the health of the community at risk, yet not all youth suffer these consequences. Researchers, funded by NHLBI, NIDA, NIDCD, and NIMH, found youth with greater brain connectivity patterns related to resilience escaped the negative health effects.
Read More

Photo of young male smoking marijuana, associated with January 2019 research spotlight article on more young people using marijuana before cigarettes and alcohol.

More young people are using marijuana before cigarettes and alcohol

A recent report funded by NICHD and NIDA indicates young people are increasingly using marijuana before cigarettes and alcohol. Using data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, initiation of substance use among youth aged 12-21 years (n=275,559) between 2004-2014 was analyzed. Learn More

Photo of young child looking at computer screen, associated with January 2019 research spotlight article on computer-detected postural changes in children with autism.

Computer detected postural changes in children with autism

Although not a core symptom, differences in motor function are early indicators of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers funded by NICHD recently used computer vision analysis to detect differences in postural changes, an aspect of motor function, during periods of directed attention to short movies in toddlers with and without ASD. Go There Now

In the Know

Events and Announcements


OBSSR wants your input on a revised BSSR definition

OBSSR invites you to submit your input on a revised definition of behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR). The field has evolved since the definition was created in 1996 and an updated definition will improve NIH's ability to describe, assess and monitor NIH BSSR funding. Using OBSSR’s IdeaScale website, you can view comments from others without registering on the site. You will need to register to submit comments and to respond to comments submitted by others. The deadline to submit input is February 22, 2019.
Submit Input


OBSSR Director's Webinar with Dr. Pamela Herd

Pamela Herd, Ph.D., Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University, and Principal Investigator of Wisconsin Longitudinal Study will present on March 18, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. ET on "Social and population health science approaches to understanding the human gut microbiome." Dr. Herd will outline key substantive and methodological advances that can be made if collaborations between social and population health scientists and life scientists are strategically pursued, as will provide a recent example of a collaboration. Registration for this webinar is required.
Register Now


Request for abstracts: IAS conference on HIV science

For the first time, in 2019, the IAS Conference on HIV Science (formerly called the Pathogenesis, Treatment, and Prevention Conference) has a track devoted to Social, Behavioral, and Implementation Science (Track D). The abstract submission categories for Track D include basic, theoretical, and methodological research in the social sciences. The conference will be held July 21-24, 2019. The deadline to submit an abstract is January 22, 2019.
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NHGRI DIR Seminar Series with Dr. Juan Celedon

NHGRI invites you to the 2019 DIR Seminar Series featuring Dr. Juan C. Celedón, University of Pittsburgh, on January 24, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. in the Lipsett Amphitheater. Dr. Celedón will discuss “Asthma ‘omics’ in Hispanics.” Dr. Celedón’s research goals are to identify genetic factors and early-life environmental exposures that influence the development of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), particularly in ethnic minorities. His research group has made key contributions to the understanding of the roles of racial ancestry and genetics, stress, obesity, and vitamin D insufficiency in the pathogenesis of airway diseases. Registration is not required for this event.
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NIDCR requests BSSR input to inform 2020 Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health

NIDCR invites public input to inform the development of a 2020 Surgeon General’s Report on oral health. NIDCR hosted a webinar to describe the need for the new report, how it will be developed, and what types of input are being requested. Written comments can be emailed to, or mailed to SGR Team, NIH/NIDCR, 31 Center Drive, Room 5B55, Bethesda, MD, 20892. The public comment period closes on January 25, 2019.
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BSSR feedback is requested for NICHD’s 2020-2024 strategic plan

NICHD recently launched a collaborative process involving external and internal stakeholders to propose overarching scientific themes for its updated 2020-2024 strategic plan. Six themes have emerged from this process for public consideration: 1. Understanding Early Human Development, 2. Setting the Foundation for a Healthy Pregnancy and Lifelong Wellness, 3. Promoting Gynecological, Andrological, and Reproductive Health, 4. Identifying Sensitive Time Periods to Optimize Health Interventions, 5. Improving Health During the Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood, and 6. Ensuring Safe and Effective Therapeutics and Devices. NICHD is seeking behavioral and social sciences research-relevant comments and suggestions on these six themes. Responses are due by February 15, 2019.
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CHIPS Training Institute: May 20-24, 2019

If you are a child psychiatry resident, postdoctoral fellow, or junior faculty member with a strong interest in mental health research for children and adolescents, you are invited to apply to the Child Intervention, Prevention, and Services (CHIPS) program, funded through a five-year grant from NIMH. Applicants must have either an M.D. or a Ph.D. in Psychology, Sociology, Social work, Nursing, or Public Health. This program tailors specifically to trainees who hope to apply for early career awards from the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR). This training cannot accept applicants interested in autism research (except for autism services research) or drug and alcohol abuse research, as those candidates would likely apply for NIMH Division of Developmental Translational Research or NICHD, NIDA, or NIAA grants respectively. Download and complete the CHIPS Electronic Application and follow the instructions on the website for submission. If you have any questions please contact Amanda Trujillo at, 412 383-5478. Applications are due by Monday, February 18, 2019.
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Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture in Epidemiology

John P.A. Ioannidis, M.D., D.S., Professor, Stanford University, is presenting on March 13, 2019 at 3:00 pm ET. His lecture is titled “In Scientific Method We Don’t Just Trust: Or Why Replication Has More Value Than Discovery.” Dr. Ioannidis will explain the current challenges of balancing discovery and replication in science at large, describe different forms of replication, and explain why reproducibility is important. He will present the strengths and weaknesses of some proposed solutions for improving research practices toward making research more reproducible and useful. Dr. Ioannidis is the leading researcher worldwide on meta-research, the systematic evaluation of research practices and how they can be optimized.
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Training on the optimization of behavioral and biobehavioral interventions

Applications for the five-day, multi-presenter training on the Optimization of Behavioral and Biobehavioral Interventions are now being accepted. This training will be held May 13-17, 2019 in Bethesda, Maryland. Instructors include Drs. Linda M. Collins and Kate Guastaferro. Drs. Angela Pfammatter and Heather Wasser, alumni of the training who have applied experience with MOST, will serve as associate instructors. The training will cover the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST), development of a conceptual model, factorial experimental designs, power for optimization trials, data analysis, practical considerations, and how to write a grant proposal involving MOST. New features of the 2019 training include a self-guided data analysis practicum, dedicated time for networking, and opportunities for individual consultation. Please contact Kate Guastaferro at with any questions.
Apply Today


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Funding Announcements

New NIH HEAL Initiative funding opportunities announced

In 2018 NIH launched the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. This Initiative will build on extensive, well-established NIH research, including basic science of the complex neurological pathways involved in pain and addiction, implementation science to develop and test treatment models, and research to integrate behavioral interventions with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD). Several HEAL funding announcements were released recently with relevance to behavioral and social sciences research. These are available to access on the NIH HEAL Website and/or the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts.
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Notice of interest in long-term maintenance of behavior change research

The purpose of this notice is to encourage research into the maintenance of health behavior change. Many funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) state the importance of the maintenance of behavior change, and request research projects that aim to promote long-term behavior change. Nevertheless, much more research is needed on how best to promote the maintenance of behavior change, particularly given the mounting evidence that the mechanisms underlying the initiation of behavior change are not synonymous with those underlying the maintenance of behavior change.
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Notice of special interest in understanding factors in infancy and early childhood that influence obesity development

The purpose of this notice is to inform potential applicants NIDDK, NICHD, NIMHD, and OBSSR of an area of special interest in understanding factors in infancy and early childhood (birth to 24 months) that influence the development of obesity. Applications for this Notice must submit an application through NIH Parent Announcement PA-19-056: NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) or PA-18-330: Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials Targeting Diseases within the Mission of NIDDK (R01-Clinical Trial Required). The latter should be used for studies that incorporate mechanistic trials. All instructions for the Parent Announcement must be followed. Submissions should indicate that they are in response to NOT-DK-19-007 in Field 4.b on the SF 424 form.
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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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