National Institute on Aging > Research > Research Programs (Extramural)
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Division of Behavioral and Social Research (DBSR)

The Division of Behavioral and Social Research supports basic social and behavioral research and research training on the processes of aging at both the individual and societal level. It focuses on the following: 

  • How people change during the adult lifespan
  • Interrelationships between older people and social institutions
  • The societal impact of the changing age composition of the population

Emphasis is placed on: (1) the dynamic interplay between individuals' aging; (2) their changing biomedical, social, and physical environments; and (3) multilevel interactions among psychological, physiological, social, and cultural levels.

BSR supports research, training, and the development of research resources and methodologies to produce a scientific knowledge base for maximizing active life and health expectancy. This knowledge base is required for informed and effective public policy, professional practice, and everyday life. BSR also encourages the translation of behavioral and social research into practical applications.

Director: Richard Suzman, Ph.D.
Deputy Director: John Haaga, Ph.D.

2008 Review of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research by National Advisory Council on Aging

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) is currently undertaking its quadrennial review of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research. The purpose of the review is to assess whether the overall performance and more importantly, the future trajectory of research being promoted and supported by the Division are appropriate.  

Global Aging

A grouping of publications that highlight a wide range of trends, issues and research needs related to population aging.  

Growing Older in America: The Health & Retirement Study

June 12, 2007 -- A new NIA data book about the Health and Retirement Study offers a snapshot of research findings on the combined health and economic circumstances of Americans over age 50.  

Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective

March 13, 2007 -- Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective provides a succinct description of population trends that are transforming the world in fundamental ways. The report, using data from the United Nations, US Census Bureau, and the Statistical Office of the European Communities as well as regional surveys, identifies nine emerging trends in global aging. These trends present a snapshot of challenges and opportunities that will stimulate a cross-national scientific and policy dialogue. The booklet was prepared for the March 15, 2007, Summit on Global Aging, hosted by the U.S. State Department in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging.  

Areas of Emphasis

Research initiatives focusing on: (1) Health Disparities; (2) Aging Minds; (3) Increasing Health Expectancy; (4) Health, Work, and Retirement; (5) Interventions and Behavior Change; (6) Genetics, Behavior, and the Social Environment; and (7) The Burden of Illness and the Efficiency of Health Systems.  

Current Funding Opportunities

Funding mechanisms including Requests for Applications and Program Announcements such as R21-Exploratory/Development Grants.
Cost Effective Health Promotion Interventions/Programs for Older Workers (SBIR [R43/44]), RFA-AG-08-005
Harmonization of Longitudinal Cross-National Surveys of Aging (R21), PAS-07-387  

Responses to Frequently asked Questions regarding RFA AG-09-006 Social Neuroscience of Aging


Priority Areas for Research Training (T32, F and K)

Applicants are encouraged to contact BSR Program Staff before submitting T32, F and K grant applications.  BSR’s priority for research training is to increase the number of highly trained investigators in the following interdisciplinary research areas as they relate to aging: biodemography; the integration of biology and genetics with behavioral and social sciences, including implications for data collection and models of analysis; genetics, behavior and aging; economics and psychology; neuroeconomics; social neuroscience; and economics and medicine.    


BSR research programs focusing on individual behavioral processes and population and social processes. The BSR Office of Research Resources and Development coordinates and implements initiatives related to research data and resources.   


Databases, datasets, books, reports, and Web sites providing additional information on the social, economic and behavioral aspects of aging.   

Conference and Meeting Materials

Materials including agendas, handouts, and meeting summaries from workshops and meetings related to aging research.  

National Advisory Council on Aging: Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) Program Review Committee Report | Adobe PDF (114K)

May 2004 -- National Advisory Council on Aging review of the BSR Program. This is part of NIA's periodic and broader review of its programs to assess whether the overall performance—and more importantly—the future trajectory of research being promoted and supported by a Program are appropriate. Some of the challenges include assessing the balance of what is being supported and imagining the areas underrepresented or not represented. The reviews are intended to help staff improve the programs through self-evaluation and advice.  

DBSR Press Releases

BSR Press Releases for 1997-2008.  

Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR)


Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translation Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences of Aging


Centers on the Demography and Economics of Aging


For more information about BSR, contact: BSRquery@MAIL.NIH.GOV.