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Psychologist David Abrams to Head Key NIH Office
By Patricia Kobor
Brown University psychologist David Abrams has been tapped as the third director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at NIH. He succeeds Raynard Kington, who was appointed Deputy Director of NIH in 2003. Demographer Virginia Cain has served as Acting Director of OBSSR for the intervening 18 months.
The OBSSR director is responsible for advising the NIH Director and other relevant governmental officials on issues relating to the range of basic and clinical behavioral and social sciences research on health that is supported by NIH. The position was created largely in response to advocacy by APA and other behavioral and social science organizations, which argued that a high-level position was needed to ensure that the NIH leadership was made aware of behavioral and social science research issues. The Office was authorized in the NIH Revitalization Act of 1994.
Abrams is Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Professor of community Health and co-director of Transdisciplinary Research at Butler Hospital, Brown Medical School. He as been at Brown University since 1978. Abrams is also the founding director of Brown's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Miriam Hospital. He is a fellow of APA Divisions 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology), 38 (Health Psychology), and 50 (Addictions).
Abrams holds a BSc.(Honors) in computer science and psychology from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He holds Masters and Doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Rutgers University. He is a licenses clinical psychologist, specializing in health psychology, behavioral and preventive medicine, addictive behaviors and risk factors for chronic disease. He is past president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, a member of the Board of Scientific Affairs of the National Cancer Institute, and a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Transdisciplinary Tobacco Etiology Research Network. He is the lead author of the The Tobacco Dependence Treatment Handbook: A Guide to Best Practices (Guildford Press, 2003), and has served on several Institute of Medicine expert scientific panels. In addition, Abrams has served as the principal or co-prinicipal investigator on over 65 NIH grants from various institutes.
"Dr. Abrams is a superb choice for the position of OBSSR Director," commented Steve Breckler, APA's Executive Director for Science. "His own research experience broadly encompasses topics from basic biobehavioral mechanisms in the self-regulation of human behavior, through clinical research and outcomes evaluation. He is scientifically 'multi-lingual,' given the transdisciplinary focus of the centers he has headed, and this will help him serve our sciences well in his new job. We look forward to working with him."