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Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group

reslience runners


News, Events and Announcements 


The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), in its role as a coordinating office within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director (OD), established the Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group in 2019 to bring together NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) that have strategic priorities related to, or funds dedicated to, resilience programs. The group identified the need for a comprehensive resilience research model that complements the NIH’s mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and to promote the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. Currently, the 27 NIH Institutes and Centers largely focus on specific disease states or body systems and seek to gain a better understanding of the biologic, environmental, and behavioral components that impact diseases and diseased populations. This focus has enabled the NIH to identify and/or develop mechanisms to treat and/or prevent various conditions. Resilience research complements this focus with non-disease or disease-agnostic models for studying health maintenance and resilience.

More than half of the ICOs at NIH have strategic priorities related to resilience or funds dedicated to resilience programs. In addition, NIH-sponsored forums have highlighted the important role of resilience research studies toward the advancement of the biomedical sciences. Several overlapping outcomes and recommendations were products of the forums, with a key recurring outcome being the specified need for common frameworks to define and assess resilience across various health/disease domains.

The Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group's efforts to advance NIH research on resilience include:
  • Development of a common resilience definition and conceptual framework 
  • Development of a resilience research design and decision tool
  • Webinar series on resilience research designs and outcomes
  • Coordination of trans-NIH resilience activities and initiatives

Defining and Conceptualizing Resilience

NIH seeks fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability through the study of resilience.

Resilience encompasses the capacity to resist, adapt to, recover, or grow from a challenge.
The infographic below illustrates the concept that over time, a system's response to a challenge might show varied degrees of reactions that likely fluctuate in response to the severity of the challenge, the length of time exposed to the challenge, and/or innate biological factors.

 reslience infographic

A system can be represented by various factors that impact human health, including environmental or community exposures as well as an individual's psychological, physiological, and molecular capacity. When systems are impacted by a challenge or stressor, the magnitude, duration, or type of stressor may determine a system's response. For example, if exposure to a challenge or stressor results in no perturbation to a system, then the system has responded by resisting the challenge. If the system is initially stressed, recovers from the challenge, and the recovered state is an improvement compared with baseline, then the system showed growth or an adaptive response to the challenge. If the system is initially stressed but is ultimately restored to baseline status, then the system recovered from the challenge. Each of these reactions may encompass a resilience outcome. However, resilience is diminished when a system's recovery from a challenge results in a worsened condition compared with baseline (maladaptive response), and resilience is lost if the system fails to recover from a challenge (collapse). The dynamics that influence resilience outcomes are in constant flux over time.

Resilience Research Design Tool

The Resilience Research Design Tool utilizes key resilience research terms and a decision tree to identify experimental designs in funded or proposed studies that best advance the science of resilience. The tool provides guidance on best practices for designing studies that are intended to target resilience outcomes. Download and use the key research terms and decision tool when planning your resilience research designs.

 Resilience Research Design tool and terms  

Resilience Across NIH

The Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group was established to facilitate the coordination and harmonization of a resilience research agenda across NIH. The group is chaired by LaVerne L. Brown, Ph.D., at ODS. Members of the core working group include representatives from ICOs that have strategic priorities and/or funds dedicated for programs related to resilience. ICO representation at the inaugural working group meeting included National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and ODS. The working group has since expanded to include representation from National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR).

Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)

Request for proposals and other research opportunities funded by ICs across the NIH can be accessed here: Listing of resilience FOAs.

News, Events and Announcements

The Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group Inaugural Webinar, Designing Resilience Research in the Context of Military Stress
The recording of this webinar is now available for public view on the NIH VideoCast Past Events website: (Originally presented on May 19, 2021)

During this 1-hour presentation, Drs. Melissa Polusny and Christopher R. Erbes from the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minnesota VA Health Care System, discuss their strategies for designing resilience research within the context of military stress for their National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) sponsored study. A brief panel discussion follows the main presentation.

About the Speakers
Melissa A. Polusny, Ph.D., L.P., is a clinical psychologist at the Minneapolis Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System and core investigator in the Center for Care Delivery and Outcomes Research, a VA Health Services Research & Development Center of Innovation. She also holds a joint appointment as professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Dr. Polusny is director of the Readiness and Resilience in National Guard Soldiers Research Laboratory. She is principal investigator of the ARMOR Study, a large multi-level, prospective longitudinal study investigating resilience processes that promote adjustment among National Guard service members. Dr. Polusny’s research strives to identify neural, behavioral, and interpersonal pathways to resilience to develop interventions to enhance well-being and prevent stress-related psychopathology.

Christopher R. Erbes, Ph.D., A.B.P.P., is a clinician investigator at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, specializing in assessment, treatment, and resilience processes for mental health problems related to traumatic stressors. He is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School. His research has focused on interpersonal context as a risk or resilience pathway for posttraumatic stress among National Guard soldiers exposed to military stressors. He is the co-director of the Readiness and Resilience in National Guard Soldiers Research Laboratory with Dr. Polusny and heads the clinician investigator team of mental health researchers at the Minneapolis VA.


Resilience Virtual Webinar Series

Call for Speakers

The Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group is seeking speakers for a virtual webinar series, Experimental Designs and Outcomes that Advance the Study of Resilience in the Biomedical Sciences. The ideal speakers should have funded research projects and/or publications that meet the criteria for best practices for designing studies to investigate resilience in the biomedical sciences. In addition, potential speakers should be able to discuss best strategies and measurements for exploring resilience outcomes. Forward your speaker nominations to Dr. LaVerne Brown, chair Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group,

Contact the Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group

LaVerne L. Brown, Ph.D. 
Chair, Trans-NIH Resilience Working Group
Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health