2022 Request for Proposals: Connecting Emotional Well-being Interventions to Health Outcomes

The Network for Emotional Well-being: Science, Practice, and Measurement (NEW-B), a collaborative project between UCSF, UC Berkeley, and Harvard announces a funding opportunity for research to advance the science of emotional well-being (EWB).

To encourage innovative study of how promoting emotional well-being (EWB) can benefit health and longevity, NEW-B will provide funding for three to five projects that examine the mechanisms that underlie potential effects of EWB-promoting interventions on downstream biobehavioral health outcomes. Two levels of funding are offered—$50,000 and $100,000 total for project expenses (institutional F&A costs may be added)—for projects that can be completed in an 18 month time frame.

A critical question is whether, how, and for whom interventions that aim to modify EWB can also lead to biobehavioral changes (behavior, physiological processes, or both) that also impact physical health and longevity. This could include indicators of physical health (e.g. coronary heart disease, mortality), health-relevant outcomes (e.g., physical activity, investment in social relationships, altruistic behavior), and/or biological/physiological responses linked to health (e.g., blood pressure or physiological outcomes broadly defined). Relatedly, which EWB-modifying interventions most reliably change physiology and/or health behaviors that are already known to be linked to better long term physical health? In this context, physiology is defined broadly to include autonomic nervous system, blood-based measures such as neuroendocrine, inflammatory, and cellular measures, or any biological changes hypothesized to occur, in the short term and ideally longer term, in response to changes in increases in EWB.

EWB can be defined as a multi-dimensional composite that encompasses how positive an individual feels generally and about life overall. It has both experiential features such as the emotional quality of momentary and everyday experiences and reflective features such as judgments about life satisfaction, sense of meaning, and ability to pursue goals that can include and extend beyond the self. These features occur in the context of culture, life circumstances, resources, and life course.

A core aim of this RFP is to stimulate work that pushes the boundaries of current approaches to investigating well-being and health. We welcome novel and field-advancing ideas, inclusion of understudied constructs (e.g. specific emotional experiences), populations, measures, and metrics, and generally work that might be considered a pilot study.

Additional information about these pilot awards:

  • We encourage studies that can leverage already funded EWB intervention research by using this award to incorporate EWB or physiological measures into an existing protocol.

  • Funded projects must use some standardized measures of EWB to make it possible to compare results with other intervention studies.

  • We are particularly interested in mechanistic studies that apply the experimental medicine model (Figure 1) (or related frameworks such as the NIH Stage Model) to examine mechanisms of change. For example, this model might suggest addressing questions such as how much does an EWB intervention increase some aspect of EWB and how much does this, in turn, impact physiological measures linked to better health?

  • Experimental designs can include in-person experiments or studies that repeatedly sample behaviors and experiences in real time and/or natural contexts during and around interventions (e.g. ESM, EMA, daily or weekly measurement). Sensitive repeated assessments of EWB allow us to better measure and detect changes in EWB and infer its causal influence on hypothesized proximal factors that influence physical health, including changes in physiological and/or behavioral profiles. We encourage applicants to design studies that use more frequent measurement of EWB and relevant outcomes, e.g. using technology for naturalistic measures.

Application: The mechanism for funding these awards is via subaward from NIA grant # U24AG072699. Applications will be reviewed by our Emotional Well-Being Network team and also require approval from NIA. Thus, application instructions involve NIH forms and procedures. Please upload four separate PDFs with the PI's last name as a filename that includes:

1) Project title and narrative description of up to 6 pages, single spaced, 11pt Arial font, 1-inch margins - excluding references (i.e., specific aims, background and significance, relevant preliminary work, and procedures/approach/methods for study with reference to the research team and environment).

2) Completed PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information form including Study Record Form attachment. Human Subjects and Clinical Trials resources and annotated forms are available here.

The Study Record Form must include:

3) Itemized budget and justification on the NIH RR_Budget_3_0_A-V3.0.pdf, and institutional F&A rate agreement (i.e. detailed list of costs of intervention development/delivery, participant compensation, RA support, etc...).

The PHS 394 Form Page 4 and Checklist form can also be used.

4) Current NIH Biosketch for all key study personnel. Current NIH Biosketch Format Pages, Instructions, and Samples are available here.

Eligibility: Research scholar affiliated with an accredited University in the United States. We encourage early-stage investigators and under-represented minority candidates to apply. Postdocs and graduate students please include a letter of support from a faculty advisor.


Date due: Accepting applications through Friday, December 16, 2022

Award finalists announcement: Late January 2023

Awardee announcement: Late March 2023

Funding period year 1: May 1, 2023 - Jan 31, 2024

Funding period year 2: Feb 1, 2024 - October 31, 2024

You can download a PDF of the application instructions below, and direct further questions to Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas at emotionalwellbeing@berkeley.edu

Here is an example of the model your study might fit within:

Model of Early Stage Intervention Research
Figure 1: Model of Early Stage Intervention Research