On March 9 and March 10, respectively, the House and Senate passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (H.R. 2471), which includes a $10 million increase in the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). OBSSR’s budget increase was a priority for APA and promoted at the APA Services May 16, 2021, Stand for Science to Advance Psychology: Science Advocacy Summit. APA Advocacy worked collaboratively with the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences, and the Society for Research in Child Development to advocate for this significant increase to OBSSR’s budget after years of level funding. President Biden is expected to sign the legislation.
OBSSR’s mission is to enhance the impact of health-related behavioral and social sciences research, coordinate and integrate this science within the larger NIH research enterprise, and communicate health-related behavioral and social sciences research to stakeholders. The office provided critical leadership in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
OBSSR is leading the NIH’s commitment to support scientific research “to develop, evaluate, and implement effective public health interventions to understand and prevent violence, including firearm violence, and the resulting trauma, injuries, and mortality.” Accordingly, the agency recently released funding opportunity announcements seeking to fund up to ten research projects, including a coordinating center, designed to develop and test prospective interventions at the community or community organization level with the aim of preventing firearm and related violence, injury, and mortality. Funded projects will be part of the Community-Level Interventions for Firearm Violence Prevention (CLIF-VP) Research Network.
NIH is currently seeking a permanent director to lead OBSSR. Psychologist William “Bill” Riley, PhD, OBSSR’s director of seven years, retired in December 2021. In the interim, Christine Hunter, PhD, ABPP, is serving as OBSSR’s acting director. Hunter emphasized in a recent blog post that the office will continue to maintain its “focus on the bedrocks of NIH research such as understanding the mechanisms of behavior change and social influence, developing and testing ways to initiate and maintain behavioral change, and understanding how these processes work in a variety of populations and socio-environmental contexts over the life course.” OBSSR also intends to focus on how the behavioral and social sciences can inform the prevention and treatment of acute and chronic disease, alleviate suffering, and maximize well-being. She also noted that the office is expanding its approach to conducting and disseminating research.
For more information, contact: Angela L. Sharpe, MG.