Request for Information (RFI): To Solicit Input on Priorities for the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet)

Notice Number: NOT-OD-10-055

Key Dates
Release Date:  January 28, 2010
Response Date:  February 19, 2010

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (


The NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) is seeking input from the scientific community, health professionals, patient advocates, and the general public about current and emerging priorities in basic behavioral and social sciences research (b-BSSR) that offer the greatest potential for improving the Nation’s health and well-being.  This input will inform the OppNet strategic planning process and help OppNet meet its mission of pursuing opportunities for strengthening b-BSSR at the NIH while innovating beyond existing investments.


The NIH Director, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced the launch of OppNet on November 18, 2009. OppNet is a trans-NIH initiative to expand the science and NIH’s investment in b-BSSR.  Twenty-four Institutes and Centers (ICs) and five programs within the Office of the Director are participating in OppNet.  OppNet investments will target research challenges best met collectively through new initiatives funded from a common pool over an initial five-year period.  Additional information about OppNet can be found at

The mission of OppNet is to pursue opportunities for strengthening b-BSSR at the NIH while innovating beyond existing investments. Its goals are to:

Basic research in the behavioral and social sciences furthers our understanding of fundamental mechanisms and patterns of behavioral and social functioning relevant to the Nation’s health and well-being, and as they interact with each other, with biology and the environment.  Basic BSSR includes research on behavioral and social processes in humans and model animals; interactions among biology, behavior and social processes; and/or methodology and measurement.  For purposes of this definition, the term "behavioral" refers to overt actions; to underlying psychological processes such as cognition, emotion, temperament and motivation; and to biobehavioral interactions. The term "social" encompasses sociocultural, socioeconomic and sociodemographic status; biosocial interactions; and the various levels of social context, from small groups to complex cultural systems and societal influences.

Basic BSSR at the NIH is divided into three categories:

The complete definition of basic behavioral and social science research utilized by the NIH is available on the website of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR):

Research topics relevant to this definition of b-BSSR include but are not limited to:

Information Requested

Through this RFI information is sought to identify priorities for b-BSSR activities that are consistent with the mission and goals of OppNet.  Ideas for both short (1-2 years) and long (3-5 years) term activities that focus on humans or model animals are welcome. The scientific community, scientific organizations, health professionals, patient advocates, and the general public are invited to respond to the following:

We especially welcome suggestion of priority areas that are relevant to the missions and public health challenges of multiple NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices and as such, are appropriate activities for OppNet.


Responses will be accepted until February 19, 2010 through the following web site: The website will request that respondents provide some background information and then suggest high priority areas of research with a brief description of the challenge, opportunity and outcome indicators for each priority area identified.  Outcome indicators will help NIH evaluate success in achieving progress in any areas selected for focus. Note that this is not a solicitation for specific research proposals. 

Formal acknowledgement of receipt of responses will not be made beyond that provided by the web site. This RFI shall not be construed as a solicitation for applications or as an obligation on the part of the government. The government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted. Responders should be aware that the information provided will be analyzed and may appear in various reports. Additionally, the government cannot guarantee the confidentiality of the information provided.


Interested parties may contact:

William N. Elwood, Ph.D., OppNet Facilitator
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research
National Institutes of Health
Suite B1-C19 (MSC 2027)
31 Center Drive, Room B1-C19
MSC 2027
Bethesda, MD  20892-2027
Telephone: 301-402-0116
Fax: 301-402-1150

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