President's Message

Michael A. Diefenbach, PhD, SBM president

Join Me in Accelerating our Science

Michael Diefenbach, PhD, SBM President

I am very honored and excited to start my year as your SBM president. I hope you feel like I do, and are energized from the Annual Meeting just a few weeks ago. Immediate Past- President Sherry Pagoto, PhD, Program Chair Eric Heckler, PhD, and Co-Chair Alison Phillips, PhD, put together a thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating meeting that was attended by more than 2,000 of our members. The meeting featured more than 200 sessions and 1,127 posters. In addition, we had an active pre-conference program featuring 18 workshops and seminars. I want to particularly highlight the Mid-Career Leadership Institute, which was held for the fourth time under the expert leadership of Past-President Marian Fitzgibbon, PhD. The institute gives a selected group of individuals the opportunity to acquire leadership skills for the next phase of their careers. We will have a five-year anniversary in 2020 and I’m looking forward to hearing from the experiences of past attendees. For the first time at this year’s Annual Meeting, we added an Op-Ed Project workshop. Initiated by Dr. Pagoto and attended by about 20 members, it is the perfect example of how the meeting’s theme of “Leading the Narrative” has been translated into action. This workshop gave attendees the tools and skills to communicate our science into easy-to-understand, relatable language. I am excited to see the op-eds that will likely follow over the coming months. We will keep track of this progress and I’ll let you know the results in a future column.

Those who attended the business meeting on the last day of our Annual Meeting will remember that the theme for the coming year will be “Accelerating our Science.” I see this as a continuation of efforts in prior years to broaden the reach of behavioral medicine and to enhance our communication strategies. To achieve this vision, we are planning to ask our members to develop “Provocative Questions in Behavioral Medicine.” I would like you to think about the most pressing issues and challenges we are facing over the next five and 10 years. This means not only thinking outside “your” box, but also inside somebody else’s box. Be creative and think big. I know this can be challenging, but I think everybody has had the experience of wanting to know more about some basic processes or relationships.

While we are laying the logistical groundwork for this project, I ask you to keep the provocative questions project in your mind. If you encounter a scientific or methodological problem that you have been interested in, struggled with, or that just baffles you, make a note and consider it for inclusion into the provocative questions questionnaire when the time comes.

In addition to this new project, we are continuing to pursue opportunities that were started over the past years. We will reach out to likely users of our science in industry to expand our scientific impact, as well as broaden our financial basis. We will also engage our partners from the International Society of Behavioral Medicine in these efforts. Lastly, we are looking for a new editor for Annals of Behavioral Medicine. I am grateful to Megan McVay, PhD, new chair of the Publication and Communications Council, and past chair David Conroy, PhD, who agreed to stay on during the search process. The call for applications has gone out and more details can be found here.

In closing, I would like to mention two more points. First, I would like to thank Lindsay Bullock, the executive director of SBM, and her excellent team for their untiring efforts managing the day-to-day operations of our society and for organizing the Annual Meeting. Their outstanding behind-the-scenes work is the reason that everything keeps running so smoothly.

Second, last January’s election resulted in the selection of two excellent members to the Board of Directors. Monica Baskin, PhD, was elected president-elect and Rachel Shelton, ScD, was elected member delegate. Please join me in welcoming them to the Board.

We have a thrilling year ahead of us. I am excited about the ideas you will be generating and the provocative questions you will be asking. I am looking forward to working with you all.

Best wishes,