OppNet is a trans-NIH collaboration that accelerates discoveries in basic behavioral and social sciences research (bBSSR), put simply, the underlying mechanisms and processes that inform health behaviors. Devised as a five-year initiative beginning in 2009 to stimulate trans-NIH bBSSR, OppNet analyzed the entire NIH portfolio and integrated extramural community input to create a series of funding opportunities that led to career awards and research projects in settings that included behavioral maintenance, genetics, investigator development, multisensory processing, resilience, self-regulation, sleep, and stress among others.
During this initial five-year period, over half of OppNet's principal investigators were first-time R01 and R21 grantees. OppNet-funded investigators' collective work substantially expanded the scope of NIH's bBSSR portfolio which led the agency to revise the NIH bBSSR reporting category to account for this expansion.
In addition to stimulating foundational knowledge, groups of Institutes, Centers, and Offices have continued original OppNet topics with funding opportunities tailored to their respective missions, for example, Research on the Mechanisms and/or Behavioral Outcomes of Multisensory Processing (R01).
All NIH Institutes, Centers, and Program Coordination Offices within the NIH Office of the Director (ICOs) collectively manage OppNet's scientific direction through the OppNet Steering Committee. The Steering Committee capitalizes on the individual and group expertise of NIH ICO scientific extramural scientists to identify and pursue timely issues through concept teams. In turn, concept teams contribute expertise and resources to develop workshops and funding opportunities.