The Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch supports research fundamental to understanding human behaviors, social context, decision-making, and clinical practices associated with cancer etiology, prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.
We cultivate a portfolio of basic experimental studies involving humans or animals, observational studies, and mechanistic clinical trials.
We strive to ensure that fundamental knowledge arising from our portfolio has the potential to reduce the burden of cancer at the individual and population levels. Thus, we prioritize studies that engage individuals and segments of the U.S. population that have been typically underrepresented, underserved, and excluded from biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences research.
Lived experience and social identity shape how knowledge is generated, interpreted, and translated for public health benefit. We have a scientific and ethical imperative to nurture and sustain a diverse pool of talented researchers engaged in biobehavioral and psychological science research that informs cancer prevention and control.
The branch supports the systematic analysis and investigation of the molecular, cellular, neural, psychological, and social processes underlying health-related behaviors and decisions identified as attributable risks for cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality. Research that employs observational or causal experimental designs in controlled or natural conditions with human or animal subjects is supported. Studies that combine diverse levels of analysis and examine reciprocal interactions among levels are encouraged.
Research domains cultivated by BBPSB:
- Cognition, emotion, judgment, and decision-making
- Sensation, attention, and perception
- Biological pathways through which psychosocial stressors influence cancer biology and outcomes
- Methodology and measurement of biobehavioral moderators and mediators
- Identification and validation of psychological and biobehavioral mechanisms or processes hypothesized to be measurable, malleable, and implicated in behavior change
- Short- and long-term effects of cancer and cancer treatment
- Ethical issues in behavioral research
- Psychological and behavioral aspects of cancer treatment adherence
Initiatives and Measures
BBPSB Grant Portfolio and Funding Opportunities
After a decade of working with caregivers of patients with all sites and stages of cancer across the entire caregiving trajectory, it became clear to me that caregivers have become the invisible backbone of our healthcare system. These clinical experiences, and my own caregiving journey, inspired my work to support caregivers, to help them engage in caregiving without personal detriment, and to assist them in enhancing and sustaining well-being, resilience, and growth in the face of suffering”Allison J. Applebaum, Ph.D.
I was first directly exposed to fMRI maps when interviewing for fellowships over 20 years ago. Actually seeing activation of the motor strip exactly where it "should" be in the brain gave me my first real glimpse of the potential power of the technology for exploring brain-behavior relationships and understanding cognitive dysfunction, which has been the focus of my research for the past two decades.”Brenna C. McDonald, Psy.D., M.B.A., A.B.P.P.
In early surveys of the cognitive rehabilitation outcomes literature, I recognized that focusing solely on enhancing memory performance as assessed by neurocognitive testing was incomplete; cognitive abilities - e.g., memory, attention, emotion regulation - exist to perform valued activities in daily life. Using effective behavior change methods to enhance performance in daily activity was key to quality of life and functional improvement, regardless of the cognitive change one experiences after cancer.”Robert J. Ferguson, Ph.D.
Read peer-reviewed manuscripts, funding analyses, and reports on behavioral research issues in cancer prevention and control.
Career and Training Announcements
View our scientific, administrative, and fellowship opportunities.
Data and Tools
Get information about data collection and analysis tools, cancer control publications, and other resources to support behavioral researchers.
Meet Our Staff
Our team of accomplished scientists and research associates, fellows, and administrators is dedicated to advancing behavioral science research in cancer prevention and control.BBPSB Staff