NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research celebrates 20th anniversary with multiple events

APA helps organize Capitol Hill poster session to mark milestone.

Norman Anderson, the first director of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), remembers the beginning well.  In a video he recorded for OBSSR’s 20th anniversary symposium, he noted, “We started with two staff people and two million dollars—small by NIH standards,” but the office grew strategically to be an important partner for the NIH institutes and centers.

Today, Anderson is the CEO of the American Psychological Association.  APA and its partner behavioral and social science organizations advocated for the creation of OBSSR within the Office of the Director at NIH.  And they have worked since then to support OBSSR’s budget and other initiatives to strengthen its ability to coordinate and promote behavioral and social science initiatives at NIH.

NIH Center for Scientific Review Director Richard Nakamura (center) with Mike Spittel  (right) of OBSSR at the OBSSR 20th anniversary poster session on Capitol Hill. (Credit: Charles Votaw).

NIH Center for Scientific Review Director Richard Nakamura (center) with Mike Spittel  (right) of OBSSR at the OBSSR 20th anniversary poster session on Capitol Hill. (Credit: Charles Votaw).

OBSSR celebrated the anniversary during the week of June 23, 2015, with events on the NIH campus along with a Capitol Hill event sponsored by the Coalition for the Advancement of Health through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.  APA and the Consortium of Social Science Associations co-chair that coalition, which formed to advocate for the Office’s creation.  

Psychologist Warren Bickel of the Carilion Research Institute at Virginia Tech explains his research on improving drug treatment to congressional staff at the OBSSR 20th anniversary poster session on Capitol Hill. (Credit: Charles Votaw)

Psychologist Warren Bickel of the Carilion Research Institute at Virginia Tech explains his research on improving drug treatment to congressional staff at the OBSSR 20th anniversary poster session on Capitol Hill. (Credit: Charles Votaw)

The Capitol Hill event, titled “Healthier Lives through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research,” was a combined poster session and reception.  Eighteen of the NIH institutes and centers contributed 40 scientific posters, and federal policymakers and congressional staff were invited to meet with the scientists who staffed the posters to learn more about the behavioral and social sciences.

Bill Riley (left), Acting Director of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) greets U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) at the OBSSR 20th anniversary poster session on Capitol Hill. (Credit: Charles Votaw)

Bill Riley (left), Acting Director of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) greets U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) at the OBSSR 20th anniversary poster session on Capitol Hill. (Credit: Charles Votaw)

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) stopped by with his staff to see the poster of his constituent, Kristine Williams, who conducts research funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research on improving care for dementia patients. The NIH Center for Scientific Review was represented by Richard Nakamura, a psychologist and neuroscientist who directs the Center.  Psychologist William Riley, the acting director of OBSSR, and his staff presented four posters highlighting major developments in OBSSR’s first two decades.

On June 24, at the opening of another anniversary event, “Define Your Career,” Dr. Riley presented certificates of appreciation to Pat Kobor of APA’s Science Government Relations Office and Angela Sharpe of the Consortium of Social Science Associations “for twenty years of dedicated support for the behavioral and social sciences as co-chairs of the Coalition for the Advancement of Health Through Behavioral and Social Sciences.”

To read more about OBSSR at 20, see Dr. Riley’s blog entry on the OBSSR website.  For more information, contact Pat Kobor