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Program Officer Opportunities in the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging

NIA's Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) offers a scientifically energizing and collegial environment with opportunities to engage the scientific community and support innovative social, behavioral, psychological, and economic research in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. We have nine Program Officer positions available across the division.

Program Officer candidates will have opportunities to cultivate a portfolio of grant-supported research; lead and participate in transdisciplinary research collaborations; and develop scientific programming (e.g., symposia, special journal issues, conferences, and workshops). Applicants preferably have experience working in interdisciplinary teams. Prior experience in aging research is ideal, but not required.

Office of Data Resources and Analytics (ODRA)
Deputy Director in Cloud Computing or Bioinformatics

Interested parties should contact Partha Bhattacharyya (bhattacharyyap@mail.nih.gov).

The incumbent will serve as the ODRA Deputy Director representing BSR on NIH and DHHS wide data science committees and assist with supervision of fellows, contractors, and IPAs in ODRA. BSR seeks a Data Scientist with expertise in one of the following areas:

  • Cloud Computing: NIH and DHHS wide data activities have expanded exponentially with multiple working groups and requests for expertise on data science. BSR has long championed expanding access to program data from CMS, NCHS, and SSA to support aging research and now facilitates access to EHR data. Our success at providing these data coupled with increased appreciation of their value for understanding how behavioral and social factors impact health at older ages has led to a dramatic increase in demand of cloud resources. The ideal candidate will hold cloud and/or information security certification such as CISSP and will expand use of cloud-based infrastructure for BSR, to enhance rigor and reproducibility across our data science programs.
  • Bioinformatics (real-world data - RWD): We have seen rapid expansion and use of real world data (e.g., EHR, claims, etc.) within the BSR portfolio ranging from large clinical trials utilizing RWD to establishment of new RWD infrastructures such as Long-term Data Cooperative. BSR is seeking a recognized thought leader that brings an innovative mindset and passion for establishing research infrastructure for RWE research. As a member of the RWD leadership team, the individuals will focus on building, mentoring, and guiding a best-in-class research teams around United States to achieve strategic goals. A degree in bioinformatics and/or experience of using RWD (Claims or EHR) is required.

The individual will also serve as the ODRA Deputy Director will represent BSR on NIH and DHHS wide data science committees along with assisting with supervision of fellows and IPAs in ODRA.

The Office of Behavioral and Social Clinical Trials (CTO)
Clinical Trials Coordinator/Program Officer— Behavioral and Social Interventions

Interested parties should contact Petra Jacobs (petra.jacobs@nih.gov).

  • NIA BSR supports clinical trials targeting social and behavioral processes relevant to aging and AD/ADRD at all stages of intervention development, ranging from experimental tests of the malleability of mechanisms of behavior change in controlled contexts to pragmatic trials in health systems to optimize delivery of care and services to older adults. Topics include health promotion, prevention of age-related chronic conditions, social engagement, decisional support, stress reduction, prevention of cognitive decline and AD/ADRD, caregiver support, advance care planning, and optimizing dementia care. BSR seeks a Clinical Trials Coordinator to support Data and Safety Monitoring for the division at large and to coordinate compliance and oversight for clinical trials in BSR’s Center and Network programs. Additional activities include providing guidance to BSR staff and applicants on rigorous clinical trials methodology grounded in behavioral and social science principles, including promotion of the NIH Stage Model, and management of a portfolio of behavioral and social clinical trials in an area of expertise related to BSR’s scientific priorities.

Individual Behavioral Processes Branch (IBP)
Program Officer Positions

Interested parties should contact Janine Simmons (Janine.Simmons@nih.gov).

  • Community Interventions: NIA BSR seeks an Applied Behavioral Scientist who will grow BSR’s investments in individual behavior change through community or institutional partnerships. The ideal candidate brings expertise in designing, implementing, and disseminating evidence-based community-based behavioral interventions and/or health promotion behavior change programs in institutions such as workplaces, grounded in basic behavioral science principles. The position will support research within the NIH Stage Model, with a focus on mediators (mechanisms), and moderators to help identify how interventions work and for whom, helping to identify heterogeneous subgroup effects. The incumbent will have the opportunity to expand research on midlife prevention and health promotion to support adaptive aging, including expanding to younger ages and a wide range of cultural groups, developing programs that promote stakeholder engagement and partnerships with organizations (such as workplaces) that have access to relevant populations, communications infrastructure for reaching them, and the potential for scaled implementation.
  • Biobehavioral Pathways to Healthy Aging & Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD): Biobehavioral research on the transduction pathways by which the social environment “gets under the skin” is fundamental to the study of aging across the life course To understand the pace of aging, factors that influence that pace, and targets for possible interventions to slow aging in human populations, researchers must consider individual life histories, lived experiences, behavioral and psychological risk factors, and interpersonal and social influences at all levels, and across populations experiencing health disparities. A deeper understanding of the types, timing (over the life course), and frequency/intensity of psychological and social exposures in humans that drive aging at the cellular, physiological, psychological, and social level, along with a more precise characterization of stress resilience, is needed to inform more targeted, innovative interventions. The development of interventions to slow aging will also necessitate a deeper understanding of these biobehavioral transduction pathways that determine receptivity to behavioral change and acceptability of treatments across disparate populations and individual phenotypes. BSR seeks a Program Officer with expertise in Biobehavioral Science with expertise in disciplines such as psychosomatic medicine, epigenetics, psychoneuroimmunology, DOHaD and/or developmental psychiatry to develop a research portfolio that informs a more robust precision medicine approach to understanding the role of social and behavioral exposures as causal drivers of aging, informed by the NIA Health Disparities Research Framework and geroscience perspectives.
  • Technology Development for Behavioral and Social Research on Aging: The healthcare landscape in the United States and around the world has shifted dramatically to a rapid uptake of digital health technologies delivered online across a variety of platforms for studying and addressing health and disease management. In many cases, these technologies may not reach to populations in greatest need, including older adults and those in underserved communities. Digital technologies have the potential to improve our understanding of health status, to measure functional capacities in real-world settings, to track the course of illnesses and recovery, to provide real-time interventions, and to enhance the healthcare system for individuals as they age. Digital technology can also make possible new models of chronic disease management, more effective home-based care, and successful aging-in-place. BSR seeks a new Program Officer in Technology Development for Behavioral and Social Research on Aging with expertise on such topics as the use of mobile health, telemedicine/telehealth, and health information technology (mobile phones, wearable sensors, internet platforms, and electronic health records) to collect biological, social, and behavioral data. Other new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, bioengineering, and internet communications, provide unprecedented opportunities to enhance the lives of older adults. BSR also seeks to promote the use of cutting-edge data analytic strategies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, in aging research. To fully exploit these opportunities, BSR seeks an expert to support our growing SBIR, digital interventions, and AI portfolio.
  • Cognitive Aging and Interventions: NIA BSR supports a broad research portfolio in cognitive aging and AD/ADRD including interventional, experimental, and longitudinal research. BSR seeks a new Program Officer in Cognitive Aging and Interventions to help expand research efforts to promote healthy cognitive aging and prevent cognitive decline and AD/ADRD. The ideal candidate will have expertise in one or more of the following areas. Prevention, including studies of Health/Lifestyle Behavior Change including exercise, mindfulness, cognitive engagement, and other modifiable behaviors that may be associated with cognitive aging and dementia. Leveraging the NIH Stage Model, BSR seeks to build a stronger foundation for prevention science, requiring coordination of efforts across multiple already-funded programs to improve focus on measurement of mechanisms of behavior change and behavioral maintenance, to create sustainable efforts to promote cognitive health and brain health equity. Experimental & Longitudinal Research: BSR supports experimental and laboratory investigations of cognitive aging, including higher order psychological functions such as financial decision making, driving, health literacy, medication management, use of technology, etc. We also support numerous longitudinal studies of cognitive aging, cognitive resilience, cognitive decline, MCI and AD/ADRD that examine the impact of stress, personality, early adversity, and other aspects of life histories and social exposures on cognitive trajectories. Background and expertise in measurement and methods for the study of cognitive aging would be especially valuable. The incumbent will have the opportunity to develop and support new research on cognitive aging and AD/ADRD.

Population and Social Processes Branch (PSP)
Program Officer Positions

Interested parties should contact John W. R. Phillips (John.Phillips@nih.gov).

  • Health Systems and Health Economics: NIA BSR has a growing portfolio on the influence of health systems on health, aging, and care for persons with dementia. The portfolio could be strengthened through partnerships with federal, state, and private entities to expand access to administrative health data for research as well as study changes in programs/policies to provide an evidence base for interventions to improve population health and mitigate disparities. BSR seeks a Health Economist/Social Scientist to serve as Program Officer for Health Systems and Health Economics Research. The successful candidate will have primary responsibility for developing and managing a portfolio of research grants on the connections between health systems and healthy aging, with emphases on the Medicare and Medicaid programs as well as long-term care. Topics covered by this position include the influence of payment models on utilization, access, disparities and health; trajectories of care across acute care systems, short stay and long-term care services in different settings, and consequences for health outcomes; models of care and care delivery to improve quality of care including models informed by behavioral economics approaches; health services and health care financing for older people with multiple chronic conditions; estimating the costs of formal and informal care for people with dementia and the influence of demographic, economic and health care changes on dementia care costs; cross-national studies of the impact of different health and LTC systems on outcomes at older ages. The ideal applicant will have demonstrated experience with large research data sets (e.g., Medicare data, electronic health record data, economic and health survey data, etc.) and quasi-experimental methods. Experience with pragmatic trails, demonstration projects and field experiments are highly valued but not required.
  • Field Experiments/Quasi-experimental studies: NIA BSR seeks a Social Scientist with expertise in Field experiments/quasi-experimental methods, in support of research on macro-social drivers of health across the life course and in old age as well as and health disparities (e.g., poverty, housing, employment, public health, etc.). The incumbent would expand BSR investments in research on social determinants of health that considers how policies, institutions, and public/private programs influence population health focusing on demonstration projects (i.e., assessments of program changes), field and quasi-experimental methods to reveal social drivers of health and health disparities. This position will bring critical expertise to BSR as we seek to develop approaches to intervene on macro-social, causal drivers of health disparities, in response to recommendations from the National Advisory Council on Aging (PDF, 433K). The ideal candidate will have experience with research on social/economic policies and structural interventions, including areas related to housing, economic uncertainty, poverty, and other social determinants of health. Experience working with federal, and state social programs and related administrative data is valued. Ideally, the candidate would also bring survey design/implementation expertise, further enhancing their capacity to take advantage of BSR’s substantial investments in nationally representative longitudinal studies around the world with linkages to administrative data and contextual data related to policy and social programs.
  • Biodemography/Population Genetics: NIA BSR has invested in genotyping participants in several richly-phenotyped nationally representative longitudinal multidisciplinary surveys as well as networks focused on integrating genetics into social science research and improving measurement of biological risk and aging for these studies. BSR is positioned to exploit these resources to generate important research on topics ranging from methodological (e.g., inclusion of genetic and biological information in social science models for improved causal inference) applied (e.g., inclusion of social and economic information in genetic studies to improve understanding of variation across populations; biodemography of aging; genetic epidemiology of behavioral, social, and economic traits, etc.). BSR seeks a Social Scientist with expertise in genetics/biodemography to support and develop this portfolio. The successful candidate will contribute to the development of human population geroscience, leveraging and enhancing the biological, social, and behavioral content of our population-based social science studies to understand how behavioral and social factors accelerate of slow biological aging, and how biological aging and genetics are related changes in behavioral and social phenotypes. Experience with longitudinal studies and collection of biological samples in the field (e.g., a participant’s home) is ideal but not required.

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