NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (BSSR) Integration Working Group


The report language of the House of Representatives for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2021 (H. Rpt. 116-450) includes the following:

Behavioral Research.—The Committee believes that a more robust and focused NIH commitment to behavioral science research and training would yield significant improvements to the nation’s health due to the important connections between behavior and health. Most of the leading public health issues facing our nation— including cancer, addiction, heart disease, mental illness, diabetes, violence, and AIDS—are rooted in individual and social behavior, yet behavioral science is decentralized across NIH’s Institutes and Centers, and the NIH commitment to manage and directly fund this important research is limited. The Committee directs the Director to convene a special advisory panel of behavioral scientists and other community experts to complete an assessment providing recommendations on how to better integrate and realize the benefits to overall health from behavioral research at NIH. The Committee requests that this assessment be finalized before the end of fiscal year 2021 and that a report be submitted to the Committee at that time.

A Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (BSSR) Working Group of the NIH Council of Councils is being established to fulfill this Congressional directive.


The charge of the NIH BSSR Integration working group is to:

  • Assess the current status of BSSR in NIH supported research and training and identify existing processes that should continue or be enhanced as well as new opportunities for enhancing processes, coordination and integration of BSSR into research conducted across the Institutes, Centers, and Offices.
  • To fulfill this charge, the Working Group will seek input from experts in behavioral and social sciences research and in the function and structure of the NIH research enterprise.
  • Prepare a report including recommendations on ways to encourage greater BSSR integration and relevance to the research supported across the NIH, including but not limited to the functions of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.
  • The report and recommendations of the BSSR WG will be submitted to the Council of Councils for further consideration.



Christine Hunter, Ph.D., ABPP
Deputy Director, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI)
Office of the Director (OD)
National Institutes of Health

Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D.
Council of Councils Member
Ward Coleman Professor
Chair of the Dorothy H. and Lewis Rosenstiel   
Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics 
Director, Experimental Therapeutics Institute
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, New York


Ritu Agarwal, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean, Robert H. Smith School of Business
Distinguished University Professor
Robert H. Smith Dean’s Chair of Information Systems
Co-Director, Center for Health Information and Decision Systems
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland

Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Ph.D.
Professor of Preventive Medicine
Associate Dean for Community Initiatives
Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Lisa Barnes, Ph.D.
The Alla V. and Solomon Jesmer Professor of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine
Neuropsychologist, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center
Rush University
Chicago, Illinois

Karen Glanz, Ph.D., MPH
George A. Weiss University Professor
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Perelman School of Medicine
Director, UPenn Prevention Research Center
Associate Director, Community-Engaged Research, and Program Co-Leader, Cancer Control Program, Abramson Cancer Center
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Penny Gordon-Larsen, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research, Gillings School of Global Public Health
Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of Global Nutrition, Department of Nutrition
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Richard Krugman, M.D.
Council of Councils Member
Vice Chancellor, Health Affairs
Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, Colorado

Marla Perez-Lugo, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

David Weir, Ph.D.
Research Professor, Institute for Social Research
Director, Health and Retirement Study 
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Rebeca Wong, Ph.D.
Peaches & Shrub Kempner Distinguished Professor in Health Disparities
Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health
Director, WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center on Aging and Health
Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Sealy Center on Aging
University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, Texas

Working Group Advisors

Farheen Akbar, MPH
Health Science Policy Analyst

Caitlin Burgdorf, Ph.D.
Health Scientist, AAAS Science & Technology Fellow

Designated Federal Official

Kathryn Morris, M.P.H.
Health Science Policy Analyst


This page last reviewed on July 23, 2021