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OppNet is a trans-NIH initiative that funds activities to build the collective body of knowledge about the nature of behavior and social systems, and that deepen our understanding of basic mechanisms of behavioral and social processes. All 24 NIH Institutes and Centers that fund research and five Program Offices within the NIH Office of the Director (ICOs) co-fund and co-manage OppNet. All OppNet initiatives invite investigators to propose innovative research that will advance a targeted domain of basic social and behavioral sciences and produce knowledge and/or tools of potential relevance to multiple domains of health- and lifecourse-related research.

Applicants should understand that the NIH Institute or Center (IC) that publishes an OppNet funding opportunity is not necessarily the NIH IC that ultimately will manage a funded OppNet project. Instead, OppNet assigns funding and project management of meritorious applications to the NIH IC whose scientific mission most closely corresponds to that of the research project targeted for funding.

OppNet uses the NIH definition of basic behavioral and social science research (b-BSSR) to determine application responsiveness.  Applications that focus primarily on applied BSSR or research topics aside from b-BSSR will be withdrawn administratively before reaching the peer review process. Consequently, OppNet strongly encourages interested researchers to consult the definitions, OppNet’s b-BSSR primer and OppNet’s answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), before determining to apply. 

The Scientific Contacts listed on each OppNet FOA have expertise on the FOA’s subject matter as well as the OppNet initiative.  OppNet’s Coordinating Committee members from NIH’s 24 Institutes and Centers and five program coordination offices also are available as resources.  OppNet recommends visiting and the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts for additional opportunities for research grants.

Short-term mentored career enhancement awards in the basic behavioral and social sciences: Cross-training at the intersection of animal models and human investigation (K18: RFA-DA-14-002)

This OppNet RFA invites applications for short-term mentored career enhancement awards in basic behavioral and social sciences research (b-BSSR) to support development of research capability in b-BSSR with specific emphasis on cross-training and establishing collaborations between researchers with expertise in animal models of basic behavioral and social processes and those studying similar or related processes in human subjects. Basic research using any non-human species or with human subjects in laboratory- or field-based settings is appropriate for this RFA. OppNet intends to commit $1 million in Fiscal Year 2014 to support an estimated 10 awards.

Eligible candidates may be at any rank or level of research/academic development beyond three years of postdoctoral experience, and either,

  • Scientists conducting b-BSSR in animal models who seek training in the study of similar or related behavioral or social processes in humans, or,
  • Investigators conducting b-BSSR in human subjects who seek training in the study of similar or related processes in animal models.

OppNet strongly recommends that candidates review the set of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQs) created expressly for this RFA.

Application due date
December 11, 2013, by 5:00 p.m. local time of applicant organization

Scientific experts who participated in an October 2010 meeting, OppNet: Expanding Opportunities in Basic Behavioral and Social Science Research and an OppNet workshop, Improving Animal Models of Behavioral and Social Processes, in July 2012, identified the need for increased collaboration between researchers working with animal models and those working with human subjects, in order to improve the back-and-forth translation of b-BSSR findings between animal studies and the human condition. This FOA begins to address this need using a career enhancement strategy. Its goal, to develop a cadre of researchers who will be better equipped to work across species, will help address the challenges of modeling complex human social and behavioral processes in non-human organisms.

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Revision applications for basic social and behavioral research on the social, cultural, biological, and psychological mechanisms of stigma (R01: RFA-MD-13-005)

The purpose of this OppNet RFA to support projects that elucidate mechanisms underlying stigma that are relevant across health conditions or stigmatized statuses. It encourages revision applications to incorporate basic research on behavioral and social mechanisms underlying stigma into active R01 research projects. For this initiative, projects may focus on stigma processes and mechanisms from the perspective of stigmatized individuals or groups and/or of individuals or groups holding stigmatizing beliefs. Projects may examine stigma in the context of specific health conditions; however, the focus of the work must be on the underlying mechanisms of stigma rather than on condition-specific manifestations of stigma. OppNet intends to fund approximately 6-7 awards, corresponding to a total of approximately $1.0 million in fiscal year 2014.

An additional goal is to encourage applied stigma researchers to incorporate mechanistic components into their research and for b-BSSR investigators to incorporate stigma into studies of related phenomena

OppNet strongly recommends that candidates review the set of frequently asked questions and answers (FAQ's) created expressly for this RFA

Application due date
August 2, 2013, by 5:00 p.m. local time of applicant organization

Letter of intent due date
July 2, 2013: Although not required or binding, an intent letter allows NIH review staff to estimate the number and themes associated with planning this RFA’s peer review process.

NIH has funded a large body of research on stigma. Much of this research, however, has focused on manifestations of stigma related to specific diseases, conditions, or populations (e.g., the unique features of stigma associated with HIV/AIDS or mental illness). This focus may prevent understanding the underlying psychological and physiological mechanisms that drive the development of stigmatizing attitudes and the experience of stigma and obscure important commonalities or differences across stigmatized health conditions and other stigmatized statuses, such as those associated with race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.

This research gap poses many challenges to understand stigma and to develop effective interventions to prevent or reduce the experience of stigma or buffer against its effects. Without knowledge of shared underlying features of the development of stigmatizing attitudes or the experiencing of a stigmatized identity, future intervention models or strategies may not fully address the complex psychological and physiological underpinnings of stigma.

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Research on the role of epigenetics in social, behavioral, environmental and biological relationships, throughout the life-span and across generations (R21:RFA-TW-13-002)

This OppNet RFA invites developmental-exploratory-planning applications that lay foundations for innovative and collaborative basic research projects on the role of epigenetics in social, behavioral, environmental, and biological relationships throughout the lifecourse and across generations. Responsive applications will use existing bio-psycho-social and environmental data, from human cohorts or animal studies that have biospecimens available for epigenetic profiling. These one-year awards should generate preliminary data for future comprehensive applications that propose to study interactions between epigenetics and social/behavioral/biological/environmental factors in both normal function and pathophysiology throughout life and across generations. Results ultimately may inform research to develop clinical decision/diagnostic tools and prevention/treatment strategies.

Application due date
November 13, 2013, by 5:00 p.m. local time of applicant organization

Letter of intent due date
October 13, 2013: Although not required or binding, an intent letter allows NIH review staff to estimate the number and themes associated with planning this RFA’s peer review process. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact relevant Program staff before the intent due date.

Complex behavioral issues in humans—including learning, memory, stress response, and mood disorders—involve interactions between genetic and epigenetic components. An individual’s underlying genetic sequence is acted upon by epigenetic tags, which may be affected by external cues to change in ways that create stable–but reversible– behavioral patterns. Both model animal and human studies suggest that great epigenetic flux occurs during intrauterine life; there is evidence that specific exposures (e.g., maternal physical and mental health, diet, chemical exposure, trauma) in utero can epigenetically influence developmental pathways. Similarly epigenetic status underlying behavioral programming of an organism after birth may be changed by the direct action of the same and additional early positive and negative influences (e.g., diet, gut microbiota, physical and psychological illness, trauma, chemical exposures maternal/caretaker stress). Such experiences in the developing organism may set the epigenetic basis for a trajectory of physiological and psychosocial function, upon which other influences act via epigenetic mechanisms throughout the lifecourse, and that also may extend across generations.

This page last reviewed: June 4, 2013

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