NIH Funding Opportunity for Humanities Scholars

NIH Funding Opportunity for Humanities Scholars
Friday, November 16, 2012 (All day)

Funding opportunity for Humanities Scholars for social and behavioral research on culture, health, and wellbeing

Letter of Intent deadline: November 16, 2012

Application deadline: December 13, 2012

AIDS application deadline: February 13, 2013

Please visit this website for the full funding opportunity description.


This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), issued on behalf of the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Opportunity Network (OppNet), will provide grants for infrastructure support to develop, strengthen, and evaluate transdisciplinary approaches and methods for basic behavioral and/or social research on the relationships among cultural practices/beliefs, health, and wellbeing. This includes an appreciation for more comprehensive understandings of the relationships regarding cultural attitudes, beliefs, practices, and processes, on outcomes relevant to human health and wellbeing.  Model animal research teams are welcome to apply.


Culture usually is defined in terms of beliefs and practices that are shared within a population, which itself may share attributes such as ethnicity, race, language, gender, sexuality, specific physical impairments or geographic space. These beliefs and practices reflect common values, socialization processes that are intrinsic to the population of interest, and their other shared attributes.  In practice, investigators may use gross distinctions such as demographic categories or political boundaries as proxies for culture, with little attention to how well these categories capture actual shared culture. The specific processes by which culture encompasses beliefs and practices related to health may be obscured by surrogate variables to designate culture (e.g., language, national origin, race/ethnicity). There is a need for research that improves the conceptualization and measurement of culture and does this in the context of health and social and behavioral processes that influence health.

Basic research on the relations among cultural processes, attitudes, health behaviors, and outcomes can lead to more precise measurement on social-behavioral mechanisms of culture and can provide reliable and valid grounding for measures across future disease-specific and/or target-population-specific investigations.

The R24 mechanism is designed to build research infrastructure and incorporates research projects as part of this effort. Projects should bring together transdiciplinary teams of investigators who can, collectively, provide new insights into the relationaships between aspects of culture and health. The team should choose a small project that demonstrates the power of their approach to deliver new insights that lead to improved health outcomes or facilitates the effectiveness of health research. This project may provide formative or pilot data which can be used to inform future, larger transdisciplinary health research.

About OppNet

OppNet is a trans-NIH initiative that funds activities to build the collective body of knowledge about the nature of behavior and social systems, and that deepen our understanding of basic mechanisms of behavioral and social processes. All 24 NIH Institutes and Centers that fund research and five Program Offices within the NIH Office of the Director (ICOs) co-fund and co-manage OppNet. All OppNet initiatives invite investigators to propose innovative research that will advance a targeted domain of basic social and behavioral sciences and produce knowledge and/or tools of potential relevance to multiple domains of health- and lifecourse-related research. Applicants should understand that the NIH Institute or Center (IC) that made this FOA available to the public is not necessarily the NIH IC that ultimately will manage a funded OppNet project. Instead, OppNet assigns funding and project management of meritorious applications to the NIH IC whose scientific mission most closely corresponds to that of the proposed research project.

For more information about OppNet, its grant portfolio, and all its current funding opportunities, visit  OppNet uses the NIH definition of basic behavioral and social science research (b-BSSR) to determine application responsiveness.  Applications that focus primarily on applied BSSR or research topics aside from b-BSSR will be withdrawn administratively before reaching the peer review process.  Consequently, OppNet strongly encourages interested researchers to consult the above definition and the following links,,, and the Scientific Contacts section of this FOA for individuals with expertise in the research subject matter and the OppNet initiative.

OppNet's Specific Areas of Research Interest

Below are topics that could benefit from a transdiciplinary approach to enhance our understanding of the basic behavioral and social processes and mechanisms underlying interactions/relationships among culture, health, and wellbeing. This list is not exhaustive, but simply provides examples of appropriate topics.

  • Develop and test new ethnographic methods that incorporate mobile technologies to better assess cultural beliefs and practices in ways that enable cross-cultural or intra-cultural investigations.
  • Develop and test new methods for identifying organizational cultures within health care delivery systems and settings--with attention to variation in norms, practices, and interactions with patients that may affect variables such as engagement in care, treatment adherence, or  clinical outcomes.
  • Develop and test new metrics for characterizing culture or cultural practices that can be used for basic and/or clinical research.
  • Develop and test methods for understanding socialization within stigmatized populations with particular attention to health care practices and beliefs that may be associated with shared stigmas.
  • Test hypotheses and develop valid metrics regarding how stigma operates and may be mitigated in the context of HIV prevention and care across relevant settings, including, but not limited to how stigma and negative attitudes towards HIV and persons at-risk for HIV affect the attitudes and behaviors of health care providers.
  • Evaluate and assess the relationship between socio-cultural variables and HIV prevention and treatment decisions and behaviors. A better understanding of this relationship can serve as a platform upon which to develop interventions, procedures, practices and policies that minimize the negative variables and/or accentuate the positive variables. Such research may include, for example, research, healthcare, community, and/or legal and policy environments or venues.
  • Develop and test methods to collect and analyze data about cultural practices/beliefs, with consideration of their roles as risk or protective factors related to health.
  • Investigate the influence of bilingualism/multilingualism on attendance to and processing of health information (e.g., neurological processes, language of message delivered vs. language used at home).
  • Investigate how hearing- or visually-impaired people perceive and process health-related information, and how this may vary in the presence of others who share these impairments as opposed to the context of unimpaired individuals.
  • Investigate methods for understanding attitude formation within groups.
  • Investigate model animal research on the transmission of cultural practices through observational research that may be more feasibly conducted in non-human than human populations.
  • Investigate the meaning and validity of prevailing behavioral/social theoretical constructs and concepts about health across cultures.
  • Develop and test qualitative and mixed methods approaches to comprehensively explain health behavior in the context of specific cultural practices.

OppNet welcomes research teams that include expertise complementary to basic social and behavioral sciences, e.g., arts, ethics, humanities, law.  Given OppNet's express mission to advance the basic behavioral and social sciences, applications must have a majority emphasis in basic behavioral and social sciences.  For feedback on specific topics, please consult the program staff listed in Section VII.


No comments