Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NIH Opportunity Network to Expand Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., today announced the launch of the Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet), a trans-NIH initiative to expand the agency’s funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research (b-BSSR).

The b-BSSR field studies mechanisms and processes that influence behavior at the individual, group, community and population level. Research results lead to new approaches for reducing risky behaviors and improving the adoption of healthy practices.

All NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) share the mission of supporting b-BSSR. Twenty-four ICs and five programs within the Office of the Director will integrate existing NIH efforts, target research challenges best met collectively and collaborate on new research initiatives in complementary scientific areas. OppNet will also develop a plan for focused multi-year programs across ICs to advance priority topics within b-BSSR.

"Synergy across a variety of research disciplines will fuel high-quality basic behavioral and social science research, a vital component of the NIH research portfolio," said Dr. Collins. "Basic behavioral and social science research contributes to our understanding of the complex factors that affect individuals, our communities and our environments."

Ten million dollars in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will support the first year of OppNet activities, which will focus on short-term activities to develop existing programs’ capacity for conducting b-BSSR. OppNet expects to release these first funding opportunity announcements by December 2009. Starting in Fiscal Year 2011, OppNet will be supported through NIH’s pool of common funds shared among the ICs.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences Director Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., and National Institute on Aging and Director Richard Hodes, M.D., together with a steering committee of IC Directors and with facilitation from the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), will lead OppNet.

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) opened officially on July 1, 1995. The U.S. Congress established the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) in the Office of the Director, NIH, in recognition of the key role that behavioral and social factors often play in illness and health. The OBSSR mission is to stimulate behavioral and social sciences research throughout NIH and to integrate these areas of research more fully into others of the NIH health research enterprise, thereby improving our understanding, treatment, and prevention of disease. For more information, please visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The activities described in this release are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). More information about the NIH Recovery Act grant funding opportunities can be found at To track the progress of HHS activities funded through the Recovery Act, visit To track all federal funds provided through the Recovery Act, visit