NIH Analyzes Scientists’ Recommendations for OppNet

The administrators of OppNet, the new National Institutes of Health initiative to support basic behavioral and social science research, have released an analysis of the comments submitted by the scientific community in response to a Request  for Information (RFI) that was issued in January 2010. This RFI invited recommendations for scientific priorities to guide OppNet funding over the next several years.

Comments were submitted by over 300 individuals and organizations. The comments offered suggestions for specific topics for research, training, shared resources, and methodology development that OppNet should support.  NIH program officials grouped many of the suggested topics into the following broad areas:

  • Decision making 

  • Cognitive and emotional processes 

  • Social, personality and cultural factors 

  • Health behaviors and disparities 

  • The intersection between behavior and gene/environment interactions 

  • Lifespan/developmental perspectives 

  • Psychosocial stress 

  • Sleep and circadian rhythms 

  • Neurobiology/neuropsychology

NIH officials observed that many comments “reflect the complex transdisciplinary nature of contemporary health research, suggesting that across these scientific themes research is needed that spans disciplinary boundaries and levels of analysis.”

They further noted that “[u]se of the latest technologies for conducting research (e.g., biomarker development, brain imaging) and in recruitment and followup of human participants appears throughout these data. Several responses articulate the necessity for animal model research. Theoretical and conceptual model development, basic research over the lifecourse, and the need to include disciplines that NIH has seldom funded to date (e.g., behavior economics, industrial psychology) are other recurring themes. The relevance of b-BSSR [basic behavioral and social science research] to prevention and adherence intervention research frequently occurs as well.”

APA’s own comments in response to the RFI (see March 2010 PSA) are well represented in this analysis of major themes.

Building on the results of the RFI, the NIH plans to hold a meeting with scientists later in 2010 to continue discussion of priorities for OppNet.  These results will also be used in planning new funding opportunities to be released in fiscal year 2011.

Further information can be found at the OppNet website.  Scientists may send additional comments about OppNet priorities through e-mail.