Robert Kaplan leaving OBSSR for AHRQ

NIH affirms need for continued support of behavioral and social sciences research.

Robert M. Kaplan, director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health, has left NIH and moved to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), effective May 5, 2014. Kaplan will serve in a new position at AHRQ as chief science officer. The announcement was made on April 11, by James Anderson, director of NIH’s Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI).

In a memo to the NIH's behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR) community, Anderson pointed out that "support of BSSR is a priority for the NIH." He also noted the "important role" OBSSR plays in "stimulating, initiating, and promoting such research," and affirmed that DPCPSI understands "the need to provide continued leadership following Dr. Kaplan's departure."

Anderson highlighted Kaplan's numerous contributions to BSSR at the NIH, including bringing together leaders in mobile technology, behavioral sciences and clinical research to forge new partnerships in mHealth; leading a variety of activities in dissemination and implementation research in health; providing support for training in systems science methodologies to facilitate the study of behavioral and social dimensions of health; and representing the NIH with stakeholders, including scientific societies, international organizations and scientific leaders in the BSSR community.

At AHRQ Kaplan will have responsibility for the review and funding of approximately $100 million in comparative effectiveness research. The Affordable Care Act designated three homes for this research that is meant to provide the evidence base for improved health practice and systems: in addition to AHRQ, part of the research is housed at NIH and the largest portion at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

For more information, please contact Pat Kobor of the American Psychological Association’s Science Government Relations Office.