Social work researchers have long recognized the importance of family and other social environments. In order to develop appropriate interventions, social work researchers often consider information about a client’s family background a vital part of the assessment. However, studies of the family in the social work literature are often limited to psychosocial descriptions of family members, communication patterns, social interactions and other aspects of the environment. Recently, social work researchers have begun to expand family studies to include genetic factors and gene and environment interactions. Over the past 20 years, remarkable advances have been made in genetic technology and research methods that are now being used to better investigate many social and behavioral health problems. Social work and genetic researchers need to work together in these advancing research methods, as they will provide knowledge that will allow scientists to best address pressing individual and social problems. Thus, it is important for social work and genetic researchers to collaborate to understand the state of the science and to identify areas where they can directly contribute.
The National Institutes of Health will sponsor a one week summer research institute on applications of genetic research techniques and methods relevant to social work problems. The summer institute will be held August 8-13, 2010 in Bethesda, MD.
The intense program will cover several topic areas including reviews of genetic studies related to both physical and mental health; an overview of genetic epidemiology (focusing on behavior genetic studies); basic genetic technologies; study designs; developing and assessing clinical, social and behavioral-phenotypes; assessment of different social environments; and data analytic strategies using genetic information.
The session on study design will focus on the interplay between genes and environment. Since social work researchers who become involved in genetic research are likely to collaborate with scientists in several other disciplines, a portion of the workshop will be devoted to strategies for building transdisciplinary research teams. Prospective participants will be required to submit a brief description of a research proposal in their area of interest for consideration.
In May 2003, the National Institutes of Health developed the first trans-institute plan for social work research. The NIH Plan for Social Work Research made a series of recommendations to further enhance this area of research in the extramural program. One of the proposed initiatives was for NIH to conduct a Summer Institute on Social Work Research. This initiative has focused on various research methods since the publication of the NIH Plan, including: qualitative and mixed research methods, behavioral intervention research, community-based participatory research, and cross-systems research to improve health outcomes. These methodologies represent frequently mentioned research infrastructure and training needs in the field. Specifically, the NIH plan proposed to:
Develop and implement an NIH Summer Institute on Social Work Research offering new researchers intensive exposure to issues and challenges in the field of social work research. The program of the Summer Institute would include lectures, seminars, and small group discussions in research design relative to social work as it relates to health, discussion sessions on methodological approaches and interventions, and consultation on the development of research interests and advice on preparing and submitting research grant applications to the NIH.
The Institute is intended for investigators who have COMPLETED THEIR DOCTORATE and who plan to develop NIH grant applications (e.g., Ks, R03, R21, R01 or other) for research in this area. Faculty will include established investigators from social work and other relevant fields. The goal is for every participant to develop a draft grant proposal by the end of the training that will eventually lead to a grant submission to a relevant NIH institute.
Participants will spend mornings in instructional sessions with Summer Institute faculty. Early afternoons may be spent in instructional sessions or working on research proposals. Participants will re-convene in late afternoons to discuss cross-cutting issues and share the progress of their work. Specifically, participation in this institute will include the following:
- instructional sessions with Institute faculty;
- discussion of cross-cutting issues;
- discussing and receiving feedback on iterations of the proposal under development; and
- development and refinement of a draft research proposal
In order to achieve the objectives of the 2010 Summer Institute, it is expected that participants will work on their proposals during the evening hours.
Participants are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to bring a laptop to participate in the Summer Institute.
The Summer Institute will be held in Bethesda, MD.
Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
5701 Marinelli Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20852 USA
No fee is charged for the Summer Institute Program. Room and board and materials will be covered by NIH. Travel expenses and the cost of meals not provided for you will be reimbursed at the conclusion of the Institute.