OppNet is the short-hand term for NIH’s Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network. NIH founded OppNet in 2009 to foster trans-NIH research initiatives on basic social-behavioral mechanisms and processes that relate across the disease- and somatic-focused missions of NIH’s Institutes and Centers. Between FY2010- 2017, OppNet funded 137 extramural projects with $80,951,738.
Examples of OppNet projects include,
Predicting Smoking Abstinence via Mobile Monitoring of Stress and Social Context. The study broke important new ground by demonstrating how to use current sensor technology to obtain a much more detailed and accurate representation of personal and environmental influences on smoking than was previously possible. Based partially on this work, Popular Science magazine named this project’s New-PI one of the 10 most brilliant young scientists.
Neural Mechanisms of Habit Formation and Maintenance analyzed behaviors, as well as cellular, molecular, and circuit mechanisms to understand how people develop and maintain behaviors so they become “automatic” regardless of outside influences. The investigators found that stimulating mouse neurons to generate dopamine can foster the adoption of healthy behaviors and reduce unhealthy behaviors—all without providing incentives (e.g., food rewards). These findings, already appearing in at least five peer-reviewed publications, suggest exciting possibilities for future studies with important clinical implications.
Envisioning Health Using Images to Enhance Latino Adolescent-Doctor Bonds provided the resources to recruit and build an interdisciplinary research team that completed a pilot project which generated data that found that while more overt forms of discrimination have declined, implicit biases persist in various spheres of society, even among health care practitioners. have been identified as factors in contributing to reduced disparities among minority populations regarding access to and quality of healthcare.
OppNet’s multiple funding opportunities on sleep and stress mechanisms led to many new findings and research directions outlined in this 2016 article. When all the grants’ investigators met, they found many commonalities among their projects including contextualizing behavioral processes as they unfold in the real world, developing and using novel measurement techniques, and looking over time and across the lifespan. They also identified multidisciplinary team science as a key determinant for research progress.
OppNet’s Steering Committee provides scientific and strategic guidance for concept teams that consist of program directors across NIH. Drs. Richard Hodes (NIA) and Bill Riley (OBSSR) serve as OppNet’s co-chairmen. Dr. Bill Elwood (OBSSR) facilitates OppNet’s Steering Committee and operations. Visit for more information about this NIH initiative, the grants funded to date, and a report on its evaluation.
For more information on NIH’s OppNet initiative, contact
Bill Elwood, Ph.D.