Request for Information (RFI): Public Comment on Development of a Funding Opportunity Announcement on Translating Discoveries in the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences

Notice Number: NOT-HL-08-114

Key Dates
Release Date: March 27, 2008
Opening Date: March 28, 2008
Closing Date: April 28, 2008

After April 28, 2008, the web link will be closed.

Issued by
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI),

The NHLBI is seeking input from the scientific community regarding topic areas and research findings in the basic behavioral and social sciences that have potential for aiding the development of innovative interventions to reduce obesity and improve obesity-related behaviors. The information obtained from responses to this RFI will aid the development of the upcoming Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) that seeks applications to translate basic behavioral and social science research findings into obesity-reducing interventions and will inform the development of future programmatic activities in the area of health behavior change.


Behaviors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyles, adverse diets, and non-adherence to medical and behavioral treatments are major contributors to morbidity and mortality. The most sophisticated advances in disease prevention and treatment are dependent on individual behaviors; for example, individuals must recognize, correctly interpret and act on symptoms of a disease in order to receive treatment; and patients must participate in all aspects of care in order to derive its benefits. In particular, the rapid rise in obesity over the past 2 1/2 decades threatens to reverse recent gains in life expectancy. While adopting and maintaining healthful dietary habits and a physically active lifestyle remain fundamental to preventing and treating obesity, even successful behavior change interventions are limited in their capacity to induce long-term behavioral changes in most people.

Translational research is the process of applying ideas, insights, and discoveries generated through basic scientific inquiry to the treatment or prevention of human disease (Zerhouni, 2003). As with the development of more effective drugs, surgical techniques and medical devices, the development of behavioral interventions can be aided by the application of basic research aimed at improving our understanding of the fundamental principles and processes underlying human behavior, and the translation of that knowledge into more effective prevention and treatment strategies. The intent of the upcoming RFA is to promote an intervention development process for the behavioral sciences to achieve greater effectiveness for obesity-related behavior change strategies.

Recent discoveries in the basic biological, behavioral and social sciences, in fields as diverse as cognitive and affective neuroscience, communication science and social marketing, the psychophysiology of stress and eating behavior, and the nature and impact of social networks, are likely to yield new and important insights that can be used to develop more effective obesity-reducing interventions. In addition, findings from other areas may also yield important knowledge to aid behavioral intervention development.
In order to stimulate the translation of basic behavioral sciences findings to guide behavioral intervention development, the NHLBI intends to issue a FOA in the fall of 2008 to fund 6 8 Research Centers of Excellence for Behavioral Intervention Development. These Centers, to be funded in collaboration with existing interdisciplinary, translational research programs such as CTSA s, are intended to support interdisciplinary project teams that include basic and applied biological, clinical, behavioral and social scientists.

It is expected that each of these Centers will conduct several types of studies to translate basic behavioral and social science findings into obesity-related interventions, including: (1) formative research to determine participants acceptance of and the feasibility of specific intervention approaches, (2) early phase trials to characterize effects of interventions or intervention components on outcomes of interest (including studies examining safety and dose-response relationships), and (3) pilot studies to test and refine intervention procedures to be used in populations of interest.

Information Requested

In order to aid the conceptualization of the anticipated FOA, this RFI invites the scientific community to respond to the following questions:

1) Which basic behavioral and social science research topic areas, findings, tools and methodologies should be targeted as having potential for translation into new interventions aimed at reducing obesity and promoting obesity-related behaviors?

2) Which findings from the basic behavioral and social sciences can best aid behavioral intervention development efforts in the areas of obesity and related lifestyle behaviors?

3) Which emergent areas of basic behavioral and social science research are likely to significantly advance the development of behavioral interventions to reduce obesity and promote related lifestyle behaviors?

4) What additional considerations, stipulations, or criteria ought to be included in the anticipated FOA in order to support the objectives described in the Background section (above)?

NOTE: With regard to the above questions, we welcome the identification of topic areas and research discoveries that can be used to develop obesity and related behavioral interventions that cut across the missions of the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs), as well as those that are relevant to a specific disease, disorder or population that falls within the scope of a particular IC’s mission (e.g., obesity prevention and/or treatment in particular population subgroups, such as children and adolescents, women who quit smoking, or patients at risk for or diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer or mental illness).

In order to aid the development of future programmatic activities in the area of health behavior change, this RFI also invites the scientific community to respond to the following question:

5) Are there topic areas and findings from basic behavioral and social science research that can be used to aid behavioral intervention development more broadly, i.e., for other, non-obesity-related behavioral risk factors (e.g., smoking, drug or alcohol abuse)? Would it be desirable to broaden the development of behavioral interventions based on basic behavioral and social science findings beyond a focus on obesity and related health behaviors? If so, what are some examples of basic behavioral science findings and the health behaviors to which they might be applied?


Responses will be accepted through April 28, 2008, and can be entered at the following web site: Formal acknowledgement of receipt of responses will not be made beyond that provided by the survey utility.

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 be used to developing future funding opportunity announcements. The government cannot guarantee the confidentiality of the information provided.


Questions about this request for information may be directed to:

Susan M. Czajkowski, Ph.D.
Program Director
Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch
Division of Prevention and Population Sciences
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 10224
Bethesda, MD 20892
Tel: 301-435-0406
FAX: 301-480-1773-