About NIA


Chief, Individual Behavioral Processes Branch
Division of Behavioral and Social Research (DBSR)


Lis Nielsen is Chief of the Individual Behavioral Processes (IBP) Branch in the Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Health (NIH). This branch develops research programs with a broad scientific scope, encompassing research on behavior change and behavioral interventions, cognitive and emotional functioning, behavior genetics and sociogenomics, technology and human factors, family and interpersonal relationships, and integrative biobehavioral research on the pathways linking social and behavioral factors to health in mid-life and older age. Within the IBP Branch, Nielsen manages a portfolio of research in Psychological Development and Integrative Science, encompassing transdisciplinary research in areas of affective science, health psychology, behavior change, life-span developmental psychology, neuroeconomics and social neuroscience. She coordinates NIA research initiatives on subjective well-being and positive psychobiology, midlife reversibility of risk associated with early life adversity, conscientiousness and healthy aging, and stress measurement. Since coming to NIA in 2005, Nielsen has developed new research programs in Neuroeconomics of Aging, Social Neuroscience of Aging, and Subjective Well-being at NIA, as well as trans-NIH initiatives for the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) and the Science of Behavior Change (SOBC). Nielsen has a BA in Philosophy from Rhodes College, MA in Psychology (cand. Psych.) from the University of Copenhagen, and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science from the University of Arizona. She held an NIA-funded NRSA Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Psychology of Aging at Stanford University. Her scientific interests and research lie at the intersection of affective science and aging research.


  • Social, affective, and economic neuroscience of aging
  • Mechanisms of emotion, stress and health
  • Biosocial and biobehavioral integration
  • Emotional aging
  • Decision making and emotion-cognition interactions
  • Subjective well-being
  • Economic phenotypes
  • Personality and social cognition
  • Basic research on self-regulation
  • Science of behavior change
  • Decision making and well-being at the end of life