Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
Spring 2018

Editor's Note

William Sieber, PhD
William J. Sieber, PhD

How do you talk to famous faculty? What approaches should a student use? What do famous faculty not want someone to do?  What is the best way to network at a conference with senior faculty as a student?

First, remember that senior-level researchers all were once junior people just like you, and most of us remember the “jitters” that one can get when thinking about approaching a senior researcher.

Second, clarify to yourself then to the other person why you want to speak with this “famous person”. For example, do you want to ask a question, or ask for an extended time (e.g., 20 minutes) with this person sometime later. It often helps to have a specific question in mind when you approach such a person, which will focus the conversation and signal to the senior person that you are respectful of his/her time. 

Third, as you approach enjoy a prolonged exhale!

Fourth, be polite and sensitive to the person’s time and the current context that you are in. (For instance, attempting to talk with a person as they’re preparing to go up and deliver a talk is likely not the best time to do so!).

Fifth, it can help to have one of your more senior colleagues or someone who specifically knows that person to introduce you to the ‘famous faculty’ either beforehand by email or in that moment.

Finally, if a senior person responds to you in a way that seems to be brusque or dismissive, consider the following:  It’s likely Not You. More likely options include: 1) Perhaps the timing of your approach was not the best for that person; 2) perhaps the person is having a bad day; 3) perhaps this is a person who is not very approachable!

I thank Abby King for contributing to this response.

-- William J.Sieber, PhD

President's Message: Refresh, Renew, and Reach

Gary Bennett, PhD, SBM President

James F. Sallis, PhD, SBM president
Gary Bennett, PhD
SBM President

In just a few weeks, we will gather in New Orleans for the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s (SBM's) 39th Annual Meeting. I look forward to every SBM meeting, but this one is especially poignant because it marks the end of my presidential term. After a year in this role, I can report that our society is healthy, vibrant, and focused on impact. Today, I am even more confident of what I wrote in my first Outlook message, nearly a year ago: "Rarely in our country's history has there been greater need for what SBM members can uniquely provide -- evidence-based insights and solutions that can improve Americans' health."

In my conversations with members this year, I have frequently asked what they envision for both the field and the society. They often mention wanting more federal support for behavioral medicine, more training opportunities in emerging areas, more fora for inter-society interaction, and more time in the day. However, most frequently, our members say that they want our work to be more prominent.  It's become a familiar refrain for me -- members want our science to be more widely recognized, differentiated from similar-sounding areas (e.g., behavioral health), and visible in the products, policies, and health messaging that we experience each day.

One member captured this notion by saying that he wanted SBM to be, "the go-to source for what works in behavior change." I share this perspective. I think our science is too good -- and too important -- to keep to ourselves. When a journalist is covering a topic that is relevant to behavioral medicine, I want our members to get the first call. When a company is developing a new behavior change product or service, I want them to integrate our member's science. When policymakers are looking for ideas that work to improve health, lower costs, expand the reach of evidence-based treatments, I want them to come to us.

We live in a culture that prizes prominence for its own sake, and I'm certainly not arguing that we should seek fame. SBM may never [need to] be a household name. But I and others believe that heightened visibility can confer real returns for the society and its members. It's not possible to complete this task in a single term, but we decided to get started by focusing on SBM's brand. 

Why rebrand? How many times have you discussed behavioral medicine with others, only to have them mistake it for behavioral health? Or, try this: contact a colleague and ask how she describes behavioral medicine to others. It will almost certainly differ from your approach. Now, contact another colleague, and you'll find the same result. I suspect that you'll hear as many different strategies as colleagues you contact. This isn't an internal concern, but it challenges efforts to communicate our mission to external audiences. And we brand not for ourselves, but for others. 

To achieve the translational goals that many of us hold, I've argued that we will need to extend our reach to engage a range of stakeholders who are unfamiliar with our work. Today, those efforts are challenged by the "competition" we face in the marketplace of ideas. Indeed, it's becoming harder to differentiate behavioral medicine from behavioral health, lifestyle medicine, wellness, and even behavioral economics. With more interest in behavioral science coming from a range of academic disciplines, we will face increasing competition for members, sponsors (including those from federal and philanthropic organizations), as well as potential dissemination partners. Again, we SBM members understand our differentiators, but we brand for others, not ourselves.

Brands are probably unfamiliar for most of us, but they matter. After Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize for his work in behavioral economics -- a field that has captured the attention of funders, the public, policymakers, and the private sector -- he said, "the term 'behavioral economics,' as it is used today ... that’s really social psychology. "Social psychology," he argued, "had to disguise itself as economics before it had an impact on the culture." Although we may recoil at this notion, the sentiment is clear: brands matter, even in science. 

Last summer, our Board decided to engage a partner to lead our brand refresh. We conducted a national search and ultimately retained the Infinia Group, a New York City-based consultancy that has previously worked with nonprofit organizations in health and healthcare. Over several weeks, Infinia met with a range of SBM stakeholders, including new and established members, former and current board members, Wisdom Council members, and those who were external to the society. Infinia also performed a competitive analysis, benchmarking SBM against our peer organizations. Throughout, they assessed how we define and describe behavioral medicine, what we want from and for the field, and where we fit in the broader behavioral science marketplace. The iterative process culminated with a strategy session at our fall Board meeting in Washington, DC. There, Infinia presented several ways of reimagining our presentation to external audiences. We discussed potential taglines, organizational descriptions, and had robust discussions about new programmatic directions for the society. Over the next several months a small working group has worked with Infinia to develop a reimagined visual identity, including a new logo, mark, website design, print collateral designs, as well as identities for some of our new assets (including our upcoming podcast). 

You'll be able to see the new SBM logo very soon. We plan to reveal it after the awards ceremony, following my talk at the upcoming Annual Meeting. Join me at 5 p.m. April 12 in Ballroom CD.

Change is never easy, and many seem to think that we academics have a genetic aversion to it. I'm pleased to say that my experience has been quite the opposite. On this, and the full range of activities we've pursued this year, our members have been deeply invested, engaged, and willing to share their talents in service to our field and society. Enhancing the field's visibility is a multi-year effort, and I am thrilled that our future leaders will push this work forward. I consider myself hugely fortunate to work in a field that is enriched by the generosity, creativity, and dedication of so many colleagues. Together, I am confident that we will achieve our goal to improve and extend lives as we cease being the "best-kept secret in health and medicine."

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve. I encourage you to do the same. 

Digital Pills and Artificial Intelligence; Where is the Behavior in Digital Health?

Margaret Schneider, PhD, Member Delegate and Heather Cole-Lewis, PhD, Digital Health Council (DHC) chair

In November of 2017, the FDA approved a digital pill; a medication that is embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine.  This technological strategy for addressing a behavioral issue—medication non-adherence—is but one example of the many innovative and, to some, controversial ways that the digital revolution is opening new horizons in health care.  Although these innovative approaches to health care offer fascinating new tools to address longstanding gaps in clinical care, they do not obviate the role of behavior as a key element influencing health.

Rather, these new technological approaches to promoting health and preventing disease introduce new behavioral challenges.  As critics of the digital pill have pointed out, providing a schizophrenic patient with a “smart” pill that allows the health care provider or a family member to track medication adherence may feed into the paranoia that often characterizes this condition, and therefore may have no benefit for medication adherence.

Many of our members have ventured into the digital health arena, using apps to promote behavior change, or wearable monitors to inform medical decision-making.  At the same time, many experts in informatics are designing systems to house digital health interventions.  Yet, all too often, these two fields of expertise fail to integrate their knowledge bases in such a way as to optimize the success of these innovations.  There is clearly a need for better communication between behavioral and information science experts.

Recently, the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) Board had a fantastic opportunity to facilitate cross-pollination between the fields of behavioral medicine and digital health technologies.  The SBM DHC, together with the SBM Scientific and Professional Liaison Council jointly proposed that the SBM Annual Meeting be linked with a 1.5-day meeting of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) and a panel session of the Working Group on Interactive Systems in Healthcare (WISH) in 2018.  The proposal was unanimously approved, and the workshop and panel have been scheduled to take place in New Orleans!

The mission of Computing Research Association’s Computing Community Consortium is to catalyze the computing research community and enable the pursuit of innovative, high-impact research. CCC conducts activities that strengthen the research community, articulate compelling research visions, and align those visions with pressing national and global challenges. CCC communicates the importance of those visions to policymakers, government and industry stakeholders, the public, and the research community itself.

The CCC will sponsor a workshop titled "Sociotechnical Interventions for Health Disparity Reduction: A Research Agenda" before the SBM's 39th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions on Monday, April 9 and Tuesday, April 10, 2018 in New Orleans, LA. This cross-disciplinary workshop will bring together leading researchers in computing, health informatics, and behavioral medicine. The workshop aims to develop an integrative research agenda regarding sociotechnical interventions to reduce health disparities and improve the health of socio-economically disadvantaged populations.

Additionally, there will be a WISH panel session during the Annual Meeting hosted by the Digital Health Council and Scientific and Professional Liaison Council. WISH is collaboration between the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and the Association of Computing Machinery’s (ACM) International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (ACM-CHI).  A full-day WISH meeting has historically alternated between the annual meetings of AMIA and ACM-CHI.  This year, members of the WISH community will attend the SBM Annual Meeting and hold a panel session to explore the possibility of future joint meetings, in rotation with AMIA and ACM-CHI. During this meeting, leaders from WISH will share information about the WISH community and annual workshops. Participants will discuss opportunities for collaboration and synergies that exist, given that researchers from both communities work to improve health outcomes using behavior science and technology. 

These cross-disciplinary collaborations are the type of initiatives that distinguish SBM among professional societies.  We hope that you, our members, will seize this opportunity to harness information technology for the enhancement of behavioral medicine.

40 Years of SBM and the Biopsychosocial Model: With Middle Age Comes Thinking of the Next Generation of Population Health – From Microbes to the Masses

Karl J. Maier, PhD; Mustafa al’Absi, PhD; Reema Persad-Clem, PhD, MPH (cand)

It’s no coincidence that the 40th birthday of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) follows the 40-year anniversary of George Engle’s seminal 1977 paper introducing the biopsychosocial model. Some might argue that this work provided half of SBM’s DNA, so to speak.

As SBM reaches “middle age,” there are reasons to be pleased. SBM and the biopsychosocial model, born out of limits to Western medicine’s historic reductionism, have matured over 40 years through critical periods of development. The recent addition of psychosocial and behavioral content to the Medical College Admissions Test is one salient example.

Yet, the future is always unfolding. We are at a time of great innovation at the nano, molecular, and genetic levels, with discovery surrounding the human microbiome particularly exciting for its potential revolutionary significance to health. Surely, there are great hopes for all these advances. But ask any member of SBM, and there are limits to reducing health or disease to any one factor.

This contrast represents a bit of a “mid-life crisis” for us. How do we continue advocating for a holistic view of medicine in a time of unprecedented progress at the micro-level of intervention?

Well, crisis is opportunity. Bridging these historically competing narratives is not only possible, but necessary to fully address our most demanding health challenges. For example, today we find mounting evidence of epigenetic effects on genes relevant to disease that emanate from proximal physiological systems to the most distal environments. Likewise, social integration, policies, and the broadest cultural and economic factors have long been considerations in population health for their impacts on health behavior and physiology. And, microbiome research is quickly linking together all of these systems in ways that could transform our understanding of health and disease.

In essence, the evolving body of knowledge in the biopsychosocial tradition is maturing into an ecological paradigm for understanding individual and population health – one spanning microbes to the broadest ecosystems (Maier & al’ Absi, 2017).

A biopsychosocial ecological paradigm makes explicit what many in SBM have long appreciated - that biological, psychological, and social factors interact in a dynamic way. In our view, hierarchical levels with fluid boundaries can also be discerned within each of these domains; the immediate level includes molecular, genetic, and neural processes that support proximal, higher-order systems involving our physiology, emotion, and even social integration. Intermediate factors such as our built environments, behaviors, and societal practices bridge the proximal to the most distal factors like our natural environments, attitudes and other high-level psychological constructs, and broad cultural, economic, and political influences on health.

The ecological view can help address in a holistic way some of the greatest challenges in medicine today - from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, asthma, and cancer, to emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases, and antibiotic resistance. These problems all can (and need to) be addressed on multiple fronts, from the smallest levels of the microbiome and genetics, to the broadest environmental, behavioral, and social domains like education and policy – things that surely excite anyone in population or public health!

Beyond SBM, global entities such as the World Health Organization have identified planetary health, and in particular biodiversity loss at all levels, to be the most critical threat to human health. Likewise, the One Health approach emphasizes the interdependence of human, environmental, and animal health. Collectively, mainstream medicine is beginning to appreciate the importance of an ecological view, for example, as reflected in recent findings of the The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. Finally, the US Precision Medicine Initiative with its All of Us Research Program will examine genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors at an unprecedented scale of measured variables and observations.

As we mature into “middle age” an ecological perspective clarifies opportunities to engage from a broad, integrative, systems view that also incorporates the tremendous advances occurring at the micro level today. This of course resonates with SBM’s interdisciplinary heritage. But the technological and statistical tools becoming available to access these systems, from genomics to epidemiology, also complement SBM’s strategic emphasis on digital health, and SBM’s forward view on the importance of leveraging large-scale data.

So, as Engel’s offspring, the biopsychosocial ecological paradigm doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree. As SBM continues to mature with next-generation micro-level discoveries, an ecological view embraces this progress and welcomes the major shifts of the broader medical community that increasingly reflect SBM’s longstanding motto: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

The biopsychosocial ecological framework extends Engel's (1977) original biopsychosocial concept by explicitly considering the dynamic relations across the biopsychosocial domains and their various levels, characterizing environmental and human factors as dynamic interactive processes that comprise a global ecological system over time. As an ecological system, the biological, psychological, and social factors are mutually determined and fluid between these domains and across levels of relative scale within each (immediate, proximal, intermediate, and distal). Population and individual health is thus a function of continual interactions among biopsychosocial domains and levels, from the most immediate micro-level factors to the broadest biological, psychological, and social systems. Concept and copyright by Karl J. Maier, PhD. Illustrated by Design Dedeaux.

Source: Toward a Biopsychosocial Ecology of the Human Microbiome, Brain-Gut Axis, and Health Psychosomatic Medicine79(8):947-957, October 2017.

Career Advice from SBM Consultants: “Do a few Things Well”

Education, Training, and Career Development (ETCD) Council corner

Amy G. Huebschmann, MD, MS, ETCD Council chair

Welcome to the fourth “ETCD Council corner” segment.  In each issue of Outlook, look to the ETCD Council corner for information related to our mission, which is to provide Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) members with opportunities and support to enhance their training and career development throughout all phases of their careers in behavioral medicine.

Coming soon at the SBM 2018 annual meeting, the ETCD Council will be providing an opportunity for all SBM members to receive tailored career advice, as we host our 4th annual forum for members to discuss career paths to success in a small group format. This year, we will be highlighting our SBM Consultation program. SBM Consultants offer many services, including:

  • Career advice, such as reviewing your CV before you go up for promotion
  • High-level input on a specific aims page that is relevant to their work
  • Recommendations for possible consultants for a specific research method

To highlight the career advisory expertise of our SBM Consultants, the ETCD Council is hosting a special “Meet the Consultants” session at the SBM Annual Meeting.  In anticipation of the career guidance that will be provided in this session, we asked some of our current SBM Consultants to share some career advice that has stuck with them over the years.  Here are their responses:

  • “Do a few things well”
  • “Get a good mentor and nurture that relationship”
  • "Take a deep breath" - this is a paraphrase of an experience I had with my graduate advisor after I went to her in a panic about a dissertation data collection issue. Challenges are common in academia and it's important to remember to take a deep breath and focus rather than constantly react from event to event
  • "Breathe and persist" — keeping calm and carrying on are the keys to maintaining your momentum in your career
  • “Do what you love to do with people that you enjoy working alongside.”  Both parts of the advice are valuable since working with a great team inspires so much more creativity in the area that you are passionate about and can make you excited to go into work every day.
  • “Use highlighters to identify key points” — this is true in its traditional use of fluorescent highlighters when reading textbooks/articles, but is also relevant for the judicious use of bold and/or underlining text effects when you are conveying key information in papers, manuscripts, and grant applications.

Interested in more career advice?

If you are interested in contacting an SBM Consultant, go to this website and login with your SBM member information: http://www.sbm.org/membership/members/consultation

If you are interested in more information about the “Meet the Consultants” session on Friday, April 13, 2018 from 3:30-4:45 pm, please e-mail ahahn@sbm.org.  Please plan to RSVP in advance if you are interested in this session, as there will only be limited walk-in slots available.

Training and Mentorship Updates from the Student SIG

Dorothy McLeod Loren, Student Special Interest Group (SIG) Chair and the Student SIG Board

As one of few SIGs united not by a research topic but by a shared training status, the Student SIG has spent the year working to identify and then enact initiatives to support the training and mentorship of our members. The first step in this process was identification of student needs, accomplished by reviewing the 2016-2017 Student SIG’s post-conference survey. As a result of this review process, we identified several student priorities (learning about nontraditional career options, networking with relevant program leaders), and barriers to participation in SBM’s Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions (primarily geographical and/or financial).

The year’s planning and events followed from this identification of needs. For example, our Student SIG board began by reviewing our existing sponsored awards, moving to increase support for first-time student attendees to the conference in order to broaden access to educational and networking opportunities. In addition, in collaboration with the Physical Activity  SIG, Obesity and Eating Disorders  SIG, Cancer SIG, and Education, Training and Career Development  Council, we piloted a series of mentorship-related webinars, beginning with our February 8th Graduate School Basics: Managing Time, Money, Projects, and Professional Relationships. We hope that these initiatives will remove barriers to participation in two ways: by increasing the number of students able to attend the Annual Meeting and by providing additional programming for those who remain unable to do so. Recordings of these webinars can be found on SBM’s website here.

Finally, for those students who do plan to travel to New Orleans for the 2018 Annual Meeting, we will be offering and co-sponsoring many exciting mentorship-related events for students. These events begin with a clinical psychology internship meet and greet on Thursday morning (10:45-11:45am, Salon 4), which will allow potential interns and post-docs to network with representatives from clinical sites who place an emphasis on behavioral health. In addition, post-doctoral students thinking ahead may enjoy an afternoon panel on transitioning from post-doc to early career positions (12:45-1:45pm, Salon 10). On Friday, the SBM ’18 student attendee has a myriad of options, beginning with a breakfast workshop for perfecting your “elevator speech,” (7:00-7:50am, Ballroom B) and also including afternoon sessions such as panels on grad school basics (12:45-1:45pm, Salon 21/24) and careers in cardiovascular behavioral medicine (12:45-1:45pm, Salon 12), as well as a speed-dating style event for learning about non-traditional careers (10:45-11:45am, Marlborough).

In summary, the Student SIG board continues to strive to improve SBM’s student programming. In that vein, all SBM members, particularly members of the Student SIG, should free to email our board members with feedback and suggestions for future programming. Furthermore, we encourage any students who attend the annual meeting to complete the post-conference survey in order to ensure next year’s student programming will continue to be tailored to student needs and preferences. Cheers to 2018, and we look forward to meeting many of you in New Orleans!

How Technology is Being Used to Influence Behavior Change in the Fitness Industry

Ciarán Friel, MS, Behavioral Informatics and Technology Special Interest Group (BIT SIG) member

Helen Coons
Alex Zimmerman

Health technology has become a vital tool for many researchers in the design and implementation of interventions to improve population health. Questions about validity, reliability and best practice for use are continually being investigated and debated. How those outside of a research setting, such as gyms and fitness clubs, use technology to influence behavior change is less clear. Ciarán Friel, a BIT SIG member, spoke recently with Alex Zimmerman, Director of the Tier X personal training program at Equinox to find out how technology is being used to impact the behaviors of their members and how research is used to guide company strategy.

BIT SIG: To what extent does your company use technology as a means to effect changes in members’ health behaviors?

Mr. Zimmerman: This is the very core of what we do. We leverage evidenced-based methods around behavior change and motivation to be delivered by our coaches through our digital platform. Equinox and Tier X have pioneered a behavior change platform that is habit-based, allowing us to track our clients’ behavior relative to their health and performance outcomes. We looked to behavior change theory when developing this platform, drawing on the Transtheoretical Model, the Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness model (SCARF), and Self-Determination Theory. Following the conclusion of each month of training, we use outcome-based decision making to guide the next steps with our clients through a collaborative process.

BIT SIG: Can you give examples of technology that you find to be particularly impactful? Any examples of things that you don't think work well in your population?

Mr. Zimmerman: The Movement, Nutrition, Regeneration (MNR) tracker is our primary means of engaging the member on an ongoing basis. We also have a series of advanced diagnostics that we perform at the outset of our intake process and repeat intermittently over time. These tests are used to establish baselines and to make the member more aware of their potential. Our process includes metabolic testing, 3-Dimensional  body scanning, and bioelectrical impedance analysis. In addition to these components, we currently have an exclusive partnership with a neural priming stimulation device that has been proven to enhance motor control and performance. In regards to population biases towards the benefit of our technology, I would say that it has more so to do with level of engagement and phase of change, with some of our older members, who may not be as tech savvy or outcome oriented, less interested in our tech solutions.

BIT SIG: To what extent do you look to researchers and clinicians for guidance when considering behavior change strategies and use of technology?

Mr. Zimmerman: We work very closely with clinicians in driving a holistic continuum of health care. For example, we work with a clinical psychologist to teach our staff motivational interviewing techniques and through that process we identify change talk. From there, we apply Self-Determination theory to ensure that members’ needs are considered during any task whether it be physical or lifestyle oriented. We firmly believe that when our clients are able to experience competency, autonomy and relatedness, their ability to take ownership over their health and fitness is incredibly empowering and motivating. We aim to apply this science of motivation throughout the Tier X experience.

Application of the SCARF model allows our coaches to establish a framework for effective collaboration with clients. We believe every member interaction is critical and when our coaches are constantly thinking about how they impact their clients’ status, certainty is created around where the client is going and what to expect.  By, involving clients in the management of their own process we promote autonomy, and relatedness in that the coach understands and supports their overall goals. Lastly, we  demonstrate fairness through our coach following through on the commitments made in the initial meetings. 

We have also recently begun discussions with a major research institution to further evaluate the effect of our interventions on members in the hope that we can create predictive models for optimizing health.

BIT SIG : How do you personally use technology to help manage your health/fitness?

Mr. Zimmerman: I am very engaged in tech, ranging from wearables to apps to medical models that are heavily driven by technology. I believe Forward Medical are a good example of a company who use advanced technology to proactively manage health and redefine the patient experience. 

Alex Zimmerman (@alexzimmerman07) is the founding Director of the Tier X program at Equinox, and is responsible for driving the overall vision, programming, growth and qualitative aspects of the department. Tier X is an elite personal training program that is designed to manage all aspects of each member’s health and well-being through Movement, Nutrition, and Regeneration with an emphasis on behavior change. Tier X aims to bridge the gap between medicine and fitness through groundbreaking relationships in the medical and research communities. Alex has a Master’s Degree from the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences at Teachers College, Columbia University and carries many advanced certifications in the field.

SBM Joins Forces to Help Students Do International Research

The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) has partnered with several other organizations to offer a special award that allows students and early-career professionals to visit the labs of international mentors to help advance research projects or program development projects.

A past award recipient from India visited the US lab of SBM member Patricia A. Parker, PhD, director of the Communication Skills Training and Research Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The collaboration helped develop research that tested the disclosure decision-making model in cancer communication.

Other award recipients have traveled to Australia, Germany, and Chile to

  • design, implement, and evaluate strategies to influence the behavior of children in selecting and consuming healthy food options in school settings;
  • evaluate the role of emotion regulation strategies in acute stress reactivity; and
  • evaluate psychosocial factors and cardiometabolic dysregulation in adult cancer survivors.

The award, formally called the Health and Behavior International Collaborative Award, is being offered thanks to a partnership among SBM, the International Society of Behavioral Medicine, the Society for Health Psychology, and the American Psychosomatic Society.

SBM is a new partner this year, and leaders are delighted to work with these organizations to help the next generation of behavioral medicine researchers.

“International experiences remind us of how culture shapes science, including the kinds of questions we ask and the way we answer them,” explained SBM member Kristie Foley, PhD, one of SBM’s representatives on the award committee. “I’m delighted to participate in an initiative that can offer a truly formative experience for a young scholar.”

SBM’s other award committee representative, Kelsey Vaca, MS, is similarly excited, especially since she is a young scholar herself.

“Applying for grants and funding awards can be a daunting process at the beginning of our careers,” she said. “I hope fellow students and recent graduates will view this award as something accessible to them and consider applying.”

A total of four awards, each worth $3,000, will be given this year. One of the awards is specially designated for an SBM member. Applications are due May 1.

Find more information and apply.  

SBM Welcomes Keynote Speakers to Its 39th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions

SBM is proud to welcome the following keynote speakers to the 2018 Annual Meeting!

Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, believes public health must do more than improve healthcare. For the public to be truly healthy, public health professionals must fix the social problems that cause poor health, problems like poverty, violence, and mass incarceration. Dr. Galea is dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He has published more than 700 scientific journal articles and 13 books, including his latest, Healthier: Fifty Thoughts on the Foundations of Population Health. Dr. Galea writes a column for the American Journal of Public Health and is a regular contributor to Fortune. Thomson Reuters has named him one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.”

Thursday, April 12; 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.; Grand Ballroom CD

Gary Bennett, PhD, is SBM's president and a prominent researcher who designs, tests, and disseminates digital obesity treatments. He co-founded two digital health startups and developed the interactive obesity treatment approach. His work has been featured in The New York Times and TIME Magazine as well as on NPR, CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox News. His research has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Bennett is a member of the American Psychological Association’s obesity treatment guidelines panel and works with committees at the Institute of Medicine, American Heart Association, and American Council on Exercise. Dr. Bennett directs Duke University’s Global Digital Health Science Center and serves as the school's  Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. He previously served on the faculties of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Thursday, April 12; 5 – 6 p.m.; Grand Ballroom CD

Gary Bennett

Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, has spent her career improving healthcare for those who need services the most, but have the most barriers to access and adherence. A New Orleans native, she was a professor of medicine and vice dean for community affairs and health policy at Tulane University's School of Medicine. After Hurricane Katrina, she founded an award-winning network of community-based healthcare providers to serve low-income, uninsured, and other vulnerable individuals. She also served as New Orleans health commissioner, restoring healthcare to devastated areas and establishing a new public hospital. Under the Obama administration, Dr. DeSalvo worked as assistant secretary for health and national coordinator for health information technology, the government’s top health IT post. She is a newly elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and recently joined the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin's Dell Medical School.

Dr. DeSalvo will be joined by Aaron Carroll, MD, MS, a professor of pediatrics and associate dean for research mentoring at Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Carroll writes the popular Incidental Economist blog as well as a New York Times column.

Friday, April 13; 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.; Grand Ballroom CD

James Hamblin, MD, and Gretchen Reynolds write about healthcare for well-known and prestigious media outlets, helping millions understand the complexities of health and wellness. Dr. Hamblin writes and edits for The Atlantic, hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk, and authored a health book with the same name. He has been called one of "the most influential people in health media." Ms. Reynolds writes the popular Phys Ed column for The New York Times, and authored The First 20 Minutes, a book that blends science and personal stories to advocate for physical activity. She has won a number of awards for her writing and reporting, including two nominations for the prestigious National Magazine Awards.

Friday, April 13; 5 – 6 p.m.; Grand Ballroom CD

Tom Farley, MD, MPH, has taken on Big Tobacco and Big Soda. As the current Philadelphia health commissioner, he restricted tobacco marketing. As New York City health commissioner under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dr. Farley worked to ban smoking in city parks and to prohibit tobacco sales to people under 21. He also helped propose the much-talked-about ban on large sodas. Earlier in his career, Dr. Farley worked for the Louisiana Office of Public Health and Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Farley advocates for prevention, and believes in enlisting community leaders to help combat health problems. He has authored books on his experiences, including Saving Gotham: A Billionaire Mayor, Activist Doctors, and the Fight for 8 Million Lives.

Saturday, April 14; 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.; Grand Ballroom A

Looking Forward to SBM's 39th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions


The Society of Behavioral Medicine's (SBM's) 2018 Annual Meeting is quickly approaching! The 2018 Annual Meeting Program will focus on the theme of "Extending Our Reach." We will feature inspiring presenters providing concrete ways to expand the impact of behavioral medicine to policymakers, government agencies, community organizations, journalists, healthcare practitioners, industry partners, and other sectors interested in “better health through behavior change”.

Keynote speakers include, Dr. Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, Dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health, whose work focuses on social problems that impact population health, issues like poverty, violence, substance use, and mass incarceration. He will be focusing on the connection between social divides and health. Also included is Dr. Gary Bennett, PhD, SBM’s president and a prominent researcher at Duke University who designs, tests and disseminates digital obesity treatments in the U.S. and globally. He will be highlighting how we can extend our reach and impact as behavioral scientists. Dr. Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc has served as New Orleans health commissioner and assistant secretary for health under the Obama administration. She is currently faculty at The University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School, and will be in conversation with Dr. Aaron Carroll, MD, MS, to discuss health beyond healthcare and building partnerships to impact public health. Participants can learn more about communicating behavioral medicine to the public from leading journalists in a keynote featuring Dr. James Hamblin, MD, writer and senior editor at The Atlantic, and Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times columnist. Finally, our closing keynote will feature Dr. Tom Farley, MD, MPH, current Philadelphia health commissioner and prior commissioner of NYC under Mayor Bloomberg. Dr. Farley has experience addressing health issues related to Big Tobacco and Big Soda and will address the role of marketing, counter-marketing and politics in promoting health behaviors.

Master Lecture speakers will include Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, founders of GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African American women and girls in the US that encourages them to walk their neighborhoods to “heal our bodies, inspire our daughters, and reclaim the streets.” Dr. Karen Emmons, PhD, past SBM president, member of the National Academy of Medicine, and professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health will present as the winner of SBM’s 2017 Distinguished Scientist Award. Dr. Judy Ockene, PhD, MEd, MA past SBM president and chief of the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Salud America!, a nonprofit working to prevent obesity for Latino children and families, will present as awardees for SBM’s 2017 Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement. Additionally, we will have a panel focused on translating behavioral science into policy, featuring Drs. Binta Beard, ScD, SM (Equinox Strategies), Sara Bleich, PhD (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), and Christina Roberto, PhD (Univ of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine). Dr. Joe Smyser, PhD, MSPH will present a lecture as the CEO of The Public Good Projects, a nonprofit that uses the power of mass media and communication to solve social problems. Finally, we will have a panel focused on engaging industry to enhance the impact of behavioral medicine, including Jeff Dachis (CEO, OneDrop), Dr. Deborah Kilpatrick, PhD (CEO, Evidation Health), Drew Schiller (CEO, Validic), and Vanessa Mason, MPH (co-founder, managing director of P2Health Ventures).

We also invite you to come to the opening and welcome of the conference on Wednesday evening, which will include comments by LaToya Cantrell, the first female mayor for the City of New Orleans. We strongly encourage you to stay through Saturday to hear our closing keynotes and master lectures, and the exciting science of your fellow colleagues. The conference hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city of New Orleans, close enough for you to take a walk to enjoy food and music in the French Quarter. 

There is still time to register for the meeting, online registration is open through Tuesday, April 3 and onsite registration will be available beginning Wednesday, April 11 at 7:00am on the first level of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Don’t forget to register for continuing education credit and pre-conference sessions, and to book your hotel room if you haven’t done so, as the French Quarter music festival is occurring at the same time. A full schedule of session information is available here and via the 2018 Annual Meeting mobile app by searching SBM 2018 in your app store.

We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!

SBM’s Pilot Mentoring Program: Sponsored by Spirituality and Health, Health Equity, and Violence and Trauma  

Charlene Niemi PhD, RN, PHN, Violence and Trauma SIG; Robert Newton, PhD Health Equity SIG chair; Karen Yeary, PhD, Spirituality and Health SIG chair

Three of SBMs Special Interest Groups (SIGS) have joined forces to create a one-on-one mentoring program for SBM members whereby junior members have the opportunity to collaborate with senior members over a 1-year timespan to build their professional skills, networks, and products.

For the inaugural year, three mentor-mentee partnerships were chosen through a competitive process to undergo the 12-month mentoring program. Each pair will develop Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound (SMART) goals to be accomplished over the year, which may include but are not limited to, grant submissions, submitted manuscripts, networking opportunities, or professional guidance. Mentor-mentee pairs will present the results of their partnership at the 2019 SBM annual meeting.

Mentors are senior investigators from Health Equity, VT, or Spirituality and Health SIG (including fellows, advanced associate or full professors)

Mentees are current members from Health Equity, Violence and Trauma, or Spirituality and Health SIG at the time of application.

Depending on the success of the pilot year, the mentoring program may grow to include other SIGs.

If you have any questions or comments please email Dr. Charlene Niemi at Charlene.niemi@csuci.edu.  

Honors and Awards

Congratulations to the following Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) members who recently received awards or were otherwise honored. To have your honor or award featured in the next issue of Outlook, please email ahahn@sbm.org.

Robert K. Klepac, PhD, ABPP
Dr. Klepac was elected as the representative of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology to the Board of Directors the American Psychological Association’s Division 12.

Courtney Peasant Bonner, PhD
Dr. Peasant Bonner was awarded a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded Diversity Supplement to work on an R01 titled Expanding HIV Testing and Prevention to Reach Vulnerable Young Women under the mentorship of Wendee Wechsberg. This supplement will allow her to assess how substance use and mental health symptoms, and sexual risk are related; to identify individuals most in need of substance abuse, mental health, and HIV prevention services; and to investigate how substance abuse treatment can be integrated with mental health and HIV prevention services for adolescent girls and young women who use substances in Cape Town, South Africa.

Maija Reblin, PhD
Dr. Maija Reblin received the 2017 Moffitt Cancer Center Population and Quantitative Sciences Junior Faculty Research Award. This award is given to recognize assistant professor-level faculty for excellence in scholarship, service, and teaching. Dr. Reblin is a social psychologist in the Department of Health Outcomes & Behavior who studies relationships and communication in advanced cancer caregivers.

Jasjit S. Ahluwalia, MD, MPH, MS
Dr. Ahlualia was elected as a Fellow of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco in February 2018.

Cheryl Albright, PhD, MPH
Dr. Albright and colleagues at UH Mānoa Nursing received half a million dollars for three years of funding from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, an institute within the National Institutes of Health. The grant aims to increase physical activity and decrease sedentary time in 250 Filipino lay leaders who represent their church within the Oahu Council of Filipino Catholic Clubs.

Katarzyna Wac, PhD
Dr. Wac has had a project accepting in the area of digital solutions for behavior change by The Computer Society and has been selected for the IEEE Distinguished Visitors Program for 2018- 2020  to talk about digital health.

Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, PhD
Dr. Trudel-Fitzgerald received the Early-Career Best Individual Presentation Award from the International Positive Psychology Association for her talk on the relationship between optimism, happiness, and the future likelihood of adopting a healthy lifestyle over time.

Members in the News

The following Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) members and their research were recently featured in news articles, videos, or journals. To have your news spot featured in the next issue of Outlook, please email ahahn@sbm.org.

Eliza Gordon, MS
Eliza Gordon wrote an article for Thrive Global on food addiction.

Katarzyna Wac, PhD
Dr. Wac has created an informational video on digital health. In her video she talks about how behavioral medicine practitioners can use digital health to improve quality of life.