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Ten Years of the Science of Behavior Change Common Fund Program: Celebrating Accomplishments and Looking to the Future
February 22-23, 2021

This capstone research conference will celebrate ten years of the NIH Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Common Fund Program. The goal of the SOBC program is to advance behavior change research through a focus on mechanisms of change and the integration of basic research with applied/interventional research. The capstone conference will highlight innovative examples of behavior change research consistent with SOBC principles, from use-inspired basic research to mechanisms-focused intervention science. Renowned national and international experts will share their research findings and visions for the future of the science of behavior change. The capstone conference will be virtual, open to the public, recorded, archived, and proceedings summarized in a publicly accessible report.

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Virtual Conference Agenda

SOBC Capstone Virtual Conference Day 1

Monday, February 22, 2021, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Time Program

Welcome Remarks
Speaker: Richard Hodes, NIA

12:35 NIH SOBC Program Introduction
Speakers: Christine Hunter (OBSSR), Lis Nielsen (NIA), Paige Green (NCI)
12:55   Keynote Presentation: Behavior Change
Speaker: Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania

Panel 1: Identifying and Understanding Causal Mechanisms of Behavior Change
Bridging the gap between basic science, which provides mechanistic insights about malleable behavioral and biobehavioral mechanisms, and applied/interventional science, which seeks to modify these processes to change behavior – and ultimately clinically-relevant endpoints – has been a major goal of the SOBC Program. Panel 1 will highlight foundational research that advances a collective understanding of the processes or mechanisms that drive behavior change. 

Session Chairs: Joe Kable, University of Pennsylvania, and Rebecca Ferrer, NCI 

Research Presenters: 

  • A value-based choice framework for understanding mechanisms of behavior change, Elliot Berkman, University of Oregon
  • Changing loss aversion, Elizabeth Phelps, Harvard University
  • Reinforcer pathology: Application of an experimental medicine approach to addiction and obesity, Warren Bickel, Virginia Tech 

Moderated Discussion/Q&A 

2:15 BREAK


Panel 2: Measurement Advances for Mechanisms of Behavior Change
Tools that allow us to precisely measure change in the mechanisms hypothesized to drive behavior change are critical for understanding how and why our interventions work. Panel 2 will showcase advances in measurement tools, methods, and approaches that allow for the valid assessment of the engagement of social, behavioral, psychological, or neurobiological mechanisms of behavior change.

Session Chairs: Inbal Nahum-Shani, University of Michigan, and Will Aklin, NIDA

Research Presenters:

  • Data-driven approaches for understanding self-regulation, Russell Poldrack, Stanford University
  • Measuring stress, emotions, and blood pressure in daily life with MyBPLab: An app-based research study, Wendy Berry Mendes, University of California, San Francisco
  • Measuring and intervening on ongoing, person-specific, subjective stress responses in free-range humans, Joshua Smyth, Pennsylvania State University

Moderated Discussion/Q&A 


Panel 3: Early Clinical Investigation of Mechanisms of Behavior Change
Knowing that we can modify hypothesized mechanisms of change is only the first step. Panel 3 will highlight research advances that engage mechanisms of behavior change and demonstrate that the engagement of a mechanism produces short-term desired changes in health behaviors. 

Session Chairs: Shirley Moore, Case Western Reserve University, and Janine Simmons, NIA

Research Presenters:

  • Mechanisms linking mindfulness interventions and health, J. David Creswell, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Time for a paradigm shift: The adolescent brain in addiction treatment, Sarah Feldstein Ewing, University of Rhode Island
  • Behavioral intervention modifies neural circuit function to mediate depression and problem-solving outcomes, Leanne Williams, Stanford University

Moderated Discussion/Q&A 

4:25     Closing Remarks
Speakers: Paige Green (NCI), Christine Hunter (OBSSR), and Lis Nielsen (NIA)

SOBC Capstone Virtual Conference Day 2

Tuesday, Feburary 23, 2021, 12:30 to 4:15 p.m. Eastern Time

Time Program

Welcome Remarks
Speakers: Paige Green (NCI), Christine Hunter (OBSSR), and Lis Nielsen (NIA)


Panel 4: Bridging Discovery to Clinical or Public Health Application
The SOBC approach calls for tests of hypotheses about mechanisms of action when interventions are implemented in the real world.  Panel 4 will highlight interventional research that tests an intervention in the intended population, mode of delivery, and setting to determine the validity of the mechanism of behavior change for achieving clinically meaningful endpoints.

Session Chairs: Elissa Epel, University of California, San Francisco, and Lis Nielsen, NIA

Research Presenters: 

  • Acceptance-based interoceptive exposure for young children with functional abdominal pain: Feeling and body investigators pain division, Nancy Zucker, Duke University
  • Improving health and motivating healthy behavior: Mindsets matter, Alia Crum, Stanford University
  • Leveraging sleep and circadian science: On the pathway to improving engagement in sleep health behavior, Allison Harvey, University of California, Berkeley

Moderated Discussion/Q&A

1:45   BREAK

Panel 5: Open Science: Increasing Rigor, Reproducibility, Transparency, and Dissemination
A core tenet of the SOBC Program is to increase rigor, reproducibility, transparency, and dissemination of methods and measures to strengthen scientific, clinical, and policy-maker confidence in the field’s research advances. Panel 5 will focus on existing approaches and include a discussion of how best to continue to achieve these goals in behavior change research.

Session Chairs: Edward (Ted) Miguel, University of California, Berkeley and Luke Stoeckel, NIA

Research Presenters: 

  • Reimagining science as truly open and inclusive, Alison Ledgerwood, University of California, Davis
  • An open science behavior change model from theory to practice, Brian Nosek, Center for Open Science
  • The art of open science: Imitation, inspiration, and innovation, Chaning Jang, The Busara Center for Behavioral Economics

Moderated Discussion/Q&A


Roundtable: What’s Next? Beyond the NIH Science of Behavior Change
National and international behavior change research experts will discuss how research groups, scientific societies, and other stakeholders can promote a unified science of behavior change, continuing to capitalize on emerging basic science to accelerate investigation of common mechanisms of change, and promoting applications across a broad range of health-related behaviors. What are the core principles that should guide our collective work in SOBC and related initiatives? Can we collaborate to unify the conceptual and methodological approaches in the field to promote rigorous and systematic behavior change research? Roundtable panelists will discuss opportunities to fortify the SOBC evidence base, identify near- and long-term needs, and envision the future. 

Moderators: Christine Hunter, OBSSR, and Paige Green, NCI


  • Susan Michie, Human Behaviour Change Project
  • John Ruiz, Behavioral Medicine Research Council
  • Donald Edmondson, SOBC Resource and Coordinating Center
  • Kevin Volpp, CHIBE
  • Kim Lavoie, International Behavioural Trials Network

 Moderated Discussion/Q&A 


Closing Remarks
Speakers: Paige Green (NCI), Christine Hunter (OBSSR), and Lis Nielsen (NIA)

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Speaker Bios

SOBC Capstone Conference - Speaker Bios

Click on the hyperlinks below for more information about the SOBC Capstone Conference speakers:

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Meeting Outputs

SOBC Capstone Conference - Meeting Outputs

Thank you to all who attended the SOBC Capstone Conference on February 22-23, 2021. The summary report is now available! Click on the video below to watch a recording of the meeting.

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This page last reviewed on August 18, 2023